His jeans were frayed and worn. He wore big black boots with steel toes. He was a metal-worker. He could peel an apple with this knife in one long strip. I used to sit in his lap and watch the blade slice through the red skin of the apple, guided by his thumb. He would slice the apple into crispy, ivory sections while I reformed the shape of the apple with the peel.
As I reached for the dead, but ringing cell phone, my right hand brushed against the familiar worn leather case that held Papaw's knife. As always, I found a deep sense of my own meaning in that smooth, worn leather that had ridden on his belt for decades.
In disbelief I held the phone, staring at it while it continued to ring out the X-Files ringtone. I found it ironic that I was standing in the dark, abandoned on the road, watching my dead phone light up to that sci-fi theme.
I could see the caller id. It was Edgar. I was afraid to answer... somehow fearing that my attempt to answer it would shatter the miracle. And so I answered it in a swift movement and breathlessly said, "Edgar?"
"Chad... where are you? Go back to the truck. Don't leave it." Edgar had shaken the alley ways and far reaches of Guatemala to find a guy who had a friend who had a friend who was a mechanic in Solola. We were to stay put until he came to inspect our vehicle and to wait with us until help arrived. Edgar was very clear... you must make sure you have the right man. Be sure to make him tell you his name. His name is Arturo. If it isn't Arturo, you must get away.
I hung up the phone and gave the family this welcomed news. Help was coming. Knowing a local man who would stand with us changed everything. We would be safe. I gave everyone strict instructions... "when he walks up, do not say his name. I have to make sure it is who I am looking for."
We stood on the side of that road for another 20 minutes. Somehow my cell phone was now at about 25% capacity. It had increased. From the darkness above, silhouetted by traffic lights, walked two men coming near to us. I could hear their voices. One pointed at us. They increased their speed towards us.
I was looking for ONE man. Not two. Maybe Arturo brought a friend? I couldn't chance it. We were too close to finding a way home. I remembered Papaw's knife. With the main blade open it is 10" long, with the blade being half that measure. I turned sideways so the motion was unseen and I unclipped the holster, removed the knife, opened the main blade, spun it so the edge faced down and out and held my hand slightly behind the backpack strapped on my back.
I had learned years ago that holding the knife in this manner allows you to slice in a upward motion as well as stab in a downward motion. This grip gives you an attack move whether your arm is going up, down, or sideways, and also reduces the risk of slicing your own hand.
I slid my left hand into my pocket and grabbed the keys to the Terracan, with the keys protruding out from between my knuckles. I was prepared for whatever was to come. I wrestled with this in my mind. Was this the right thing to do for a pastor, for a man who says he trusts in God? Shouldn't I turn the other cheek? Shouldn't I just trust in God?
I figured the answer just might be yes. But I couldn't live with that. I would rather die, attempting to defend my children and face God, trusting Him for the judging of my soul, than to live an eternity knowing I stood by while my family was harmed. Let the judgment fall on me. My God is a just God. I asked Him to give me wisdom... and a sure set of hands.
Of course... I was probably over-reacting. The men approached and began speaking rapidly in Spanish. They had to shout because of the noise of the traffic and even still the occasional screech of tires and blast of horn. I interrupted him and demanded his name.
His name was Freddie.
No. Oh no. This is not my man. This was NOT Arturo! He kept insisting that he was a mechanic and that he could help me. He and his friend continued to step closer. I readjusted my grip on the blade and the keys. I felt sweat run down the center of my shoulders and I resolved myself for what was to come.
I leaned in towards them and with intensity I said, "I don't know you, you are not the man I'm looking for. He will be coming. GET AWAY FROM MY FAMILY NOW."
Every muscle in my body was tensed for what was to come. My God have mercy on what I am about to do...
...and may I strike true.
(continue the story here Breakdown in Solola: (6) We Need Help)