Where was Cuz? Hadn't he heard me yell for help? A derelict kid was after me with an open pocket knife.
Shaking, I picked up a river rock in my hand. It was smooth, except for one jagged edge. I tensed the muscles in my arm. The rock was my only defense.
I closed my eyes. Mom always told me God would be my rock. Well, I needed Him now.
That's when I heard sounds. I cautiously stepped to the edge of the tunnel and peered out.
There he is. At the top of the embankment.He hesitated. Then jumped. Swoosh. Slid in mud. Thud. Hit river stone. Heard the pained cry. On his back in the mud. Not moving.
My mind reeled. He was hurt. Maybe bad...what if he landed on the knife?
I summoned courage to step out of the tunnel, and waded halfway across the creek. Not too close.
I looked over at the bank. Kid still not moving. Oh, dear God....
In a shaky voice, I called out. "Hey...you... You okay?"
The kid moaned, then began to roll over.
He's standing up! Swiping at the mud on his face, he glared at me with cold, hard eyes.
I froze, gripping the rock in my hand.
"Whatcha' got there, girly?" he scoffed. "Gonna' hit me with the rock? Ha! What's it to ya'?" He spit on the ground.
That was it! I clenched my jaw, engaged my arm, and pelted the rock as hard as I could, nicking his shoulder.
"You [explicative]! he hollered. Stepping into the creek, he lunged at me. I backed up, just in time to miss the swing of his muddy arm.
Cuz suddenly appeared, stepping between us. "Leave her alone!"
He raised his arm, and that's when I saw the flash of metal. Cuz had the open pocket knife in his hand, brandishing it like a trophy. I didn't know how he found it, but I was glad he did.
The kid looked flustered, stepping backwards. "You'd...better give that back!"
"Lose something, kid?" Cuz bantered.
The derelict retaliated. "Give me the knife," he pointed a muddy finger at Cuz, "or my Dad's gonna' sue you!"
Cuz held his stance, knife in hand. The kid backed away. He cursed, and swore his father was going to come after us. He turned and climbed out of the ravine. Soon he'd disappeared over the embankment.
Cuz and I smiled and exchanged a high five.
As I thought about it on our walk home, I told Cuz there was only one thing I regretted. "If I ever see that kid again, there is something I'm going to say to him. It would go like this:
The kid says, "The rock...Ha! So what's it to ya"?"
And I'd say, "Everything, kid. Everything."
"The Lord is my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge." - Psalm 91:2