From my most recent post (thank you thank you thank you for your lovely notes of niceness [is that a word??]), a few of you know that I have a gift, which opinion stemmed from an actual doctor, a real life, medically trained, diploma receiving, intern with 1 1/2 hours of sleep a day for two years, Ear, Nose and Throat kinda doctor. His office was staffed completely with female nurses (it was the late 60's) with the crispy white caps bolted to their heads, blazing white dress uniforms, and premises so gleamingly sterile you might have an epileptic fit if you looked at his autoclave for too long.
The gift? I have hearing on par with a German Shepherd.
The doctor, of course, had the bedside manner of a troll eating a small child under a bridge and being annoyed that you found him.
After my mother got over her shock ("My daughter has the hearing of a German Shepherd? The DOG?" and Dad chimed in with his usual snarky shot at Mom [I admit I got most of my own snark from Dad, who I can hear in Vegas now, six feet down, hammering on his coffin lid and calling me a liar], "No, Ellie, he means an Alsatian guarding farm animals!"). Mom sniffled into the tiny snippet of lace she called "a handkerchief", and asked, in a kinda whiny voice, "But what does it mean? What will become of her?"
Dad and the Doc looked at my mother as if she'd just had sea monkeys spew from her navel. The doc beat dad to an answer, though.
He said, "Not much. She's got good hearing. It's not like she's going to grow another leg or become a serial killer." (How he made the jump from "another leg" to "serial killer" even I thought was odd, and it made me finally look at this guy, sitting across the desk, looking professional and wearing an "I shall not be contradicted!" look, telling my parents the reason I could hear Stevie Rubenstein's mom calling him home for dinner, and they lived 4 blocks away, was that I had really, really good hearing.)
This "gift" was truly nothing terribly special. (Hell, if I couldn't make non-consecutively numbered paper money appear in mid-air, eh. That was my attitude. Eh.)
Until I was about eleven. A kid, from our neighborhood, had gone missing. Remember, this was now the very early 70's (and we had moved to Apple Pie Dancing Pixie Land Street). The United States didn't think kids could GO missing, and playing in the street or dangling by your foot from a tree was perfectly fine.
But this kid, this kid I knew. His name was Scott. He was my age. We played together. We rode bikes (at which I was I terrible and inevitably ended with my falling and skinning my knees and elbows and once, I klonked my forehead, and head or facial lacerations bleed like a sonofabitch. Scott walked me home; Mom saw the head laceration and immediately began treating it, and Dad fainted. (Didn't stop him from buying stock in Bactine the next day.)
When Scotty went missing, I was just as worried as the adults. But, as I was a kid, my opinions and thoughts about where he might be, were ignored.
Until one officer spoke to my mom, who said a few sentences (YES, I know, I couldn't HEAR them because there were 35 people in my house all babbling and crying and just making it impossible for the German Shepherd that is me to hear Mom clearly), but the cop walked right over to me, mom following.
The entire house of adults fell hushed. The cop introduced himself (Officer Daniels) and said, "Your mom tells me you have a pretty special talent."
"Talent"? I'd never thought of it that way. I said, "I can hear things, really well, if that's what you mean." He smiled and nodded.
Then he said, "Before we start wandering all over the place, can you think of anywhere Scott might be? Places that you play? Or hide?"
I could think of one such place, but my father had forbade me to go there because it was a woodsy (in L.A., yeah, I know!) spot. (Our house sat, with many other houses, on top of Benedict Canyon, beyond which is a steep drop to some producers backyard. And all around us was evergreen oaks, and tall shrubs and prickly little bushes and great places for kids to make a secret 'clubhouse'.) Alas, all of those verboten spots, and normal playing areas had been thought of, and searched, and Scotty remained vanished. But, my little brain whirred and I said to Officer Daniels, "Can we walk down the path to the (condominium) pool?" This path was about a 1/4 mile long, and "staired": four foot pieces of old railroad ties having been placed to make the trip to and from the poolhouse (and the beginning of my exercise addiction) easier. It was also fringed with wild growth, dense, scary at nighttime wild growth.
He said yes, took my hand and, with the adults on our tails, nearly silent, tiptoeing behind us, we went to those steps. We walked down carefully, Officer Daniels hand in mine (very comforting), about ten steps, and stopped. And I closed my eyes, and I listened.
It was getting dark. Being in LA, though, the only danger Scotty could be in (if he wasn't badly hurt if he WAS here), were coyotes.
Which meant Scotty, if he was here, was in trouble.
So I listened. For about three minutes. Then I heard it: Scotty's voice, now a tiny, whisper of a voice, calling out. I pointed down the steps, and said to Officer Daniels, "I think he's forty steps down, on the left." That's we had our 'clubhouse', the place to go where adults couldn't bug us. The place my father had forbidden me to make.
Officer Daniels dashed down the steps, stepped carefully into the brush and called Scott. Loudly.
Officer Daniels then broke through the shrubs and small trees, a big man crashing through shrubbery that we little kids just, well, walked through. Hedisappeared for one minute, and came back out, carrying Scotty.
Scotty had fallen on his way to the 'clubhouse' and broken his ankle. He could go neither up nor down. He was stuck. He crawled into our 'clubhouse', and tried to yell for help, but with the human and auto traffic, no one heard, so no rescue.
Until the human German Shepherd came along. All of the adults "huzzah'd!" and "hurrah'd!" and patted my on the back, and Scott's parents hugged me until my clavicles were in danger of snapping.
Scotty was whisked off to the hospital to get his ankle looked at and (I didn't know then, but do now), rehydrated. It had been a hot, dehydrating day in Los Angeles, what with it being December.
Officer Daniels and I walked back to my house, past all the people who were smiling and patting me on the back, and crying with relief, and in general making me feel pretty damned important.
Until I got home. The first words out of my father's mouth? "Didn't I forbid you from going into these woods? Didn't I? What if it had been you, and Scott couldn't hear you!"
Officer Daniels was about to say something to Dad, and I sensed it wasn't going to be a nice something, when Dad fell to his knees, swept me up in his arms, tears falling fast and hard down his unshaven cheek,and said, "You saved that boy. You and your crazy ears saved that boy."
I felt Officer Daniels anger abate, I really did. He took a card from his breast pocket and gave it to my mother, saying, "If you need me for anything, please call", doffed his cap, patted me on the shoulder so I looked up at him, and he said, "You are a hero, don't let anyone tell you different. And you have a great Dad." To Dad, he said, "You've got an amazing daughter. Don't screw her up, okay?" Dad wiped the tears off his face. Officer Daniels got back in his squad car and drove away.
Wow, this ended up in a completely different place than I thought it would! I had TOTALLY forgotten the story about Scott, until my fingers reminded me of it.
And next time, me and earthquakes. The guy at Sears thought I was a witch!