The Courage of the Mystery Man – by Terry Howard

      “… You can call it fate or call it destiny. Sometimes it seems like a mystery. Timing is everything!” ~ Garrett Hedlund

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

Fate? …Destiny? … I cannot explain it.

You see, someone recently sent me a quick read on courageous acts by courageous people. “So, are you trying to tell me something?” I thought to myself while putting the piece aside. Now by coincidence – or destiny? – I remembered that Deborah Levine and Marc Brennan are about to release their long-awaited book, “When Hate Groups March Down Main Street.”

All that said, days later I received the following story from “Mariah,” that provided an opportunity for me to pull all these pieces together:

It was a Sunday afternoon. My dad was about to take my brothers to get haircuts and advised my sister, cousin and I not to go outside until they got back. My daddy trained dogs. Not only did he train them but bred and sold them as well.

So here we are, three young girls watching TV on that day. Since we’d become bored, my sister proposed that my cousin and I play truth or dare and dared me and my cousin to run outside in the backyard, touch the jungle gym and run back in. Without second thought, I accept the challenge. Now remember, we weren’t supposed to go outside.

Now we were standing at the back door preparing to run out. My sister started her countdown. Once she reached one, I burst out in full pursuit of the jungle gym. My cousin bailed out at the last minute. Next thing I hear is, “Mariah! There’s a dog behind you!”

Before I had a chance to look back a dog came from around the side of the house in full pursuit. I ran my fastest while my heart was exploding with adrenaline fueled by fear. Before I knew it, that dog had sank his teeth into the back of my leg and yanked me down to the ground ripping and tearing through my jeans as his jaws locked on my flesh. I wailed as I fought for my life. My sister and cousin were in sheer terror and panic, doing whatever they could to help except coming out of the house to distract the dog.

Once the dog ripped out the first morsel of my flesh, he ran off. I tried to get up and run back to the house, but he severed a nerve in my leg which caused me to be paralyzed from the waist down. I did manage to flip myself over onto to my back and scoot back toward the house.

The dog then came back for a second helping of my leg. This time he attacked the front of my leg, dragging me back toward the back of the yard. After the second chunk of my leg was ripped out, he lounged for my neck. But by the grace of God, I was able to block the attack with my arm. He took a couple of plugs of flesh from my arm, as a result.

45 minutes later, a man out of nowhere jumped over the 6-foot privacy fence that separates the two residents, into my back yard. He grabbed a shovel and began to beat the dog in the head. Once the dog ran off, this man started pulling me back toward the house. But the dog came back! This time he tried to attack the man.

Anyway, this mystery man now had to drag me a few feet, put me down, hit the dog, pick me up, drag me a few more feet, put me down, hit the dog and pick me up again. This went on for about another 10 minutes until he finally hit the dog hard enough to seriously daze him and we made it back to the house. I looked down at the damage and all I saw was grass, dirt, blood, flesh, bone, then blacked out.

The above incident happened years ago while “Mariah” was growing up in California. Since then she’s lost contact with that “mystery man” and is left with visual reminders of his heroics – scar tissue from multiple surgeries and a noticeable limp.

Today “Mariah” is the CEO of a local urgent center and, despite her unfortunate experiences of years ago, has a disarming demeanor that’s infectious. You’ll find her doling out hellos and compliments to those she knows and those she doesn’t know. She’s a leader in the truest sense of the word.

And so are those contemporary “mystery men” (and women) in gun-crazed America. You see, we’re fortunate to have witnessed and heart warmed by “mystery men” who sacrificed their lives to prevent additional killings during recent blatant acts of domestic terrorism.

Yes, “mystery people” are in our midst today and – like “Mariah’s” “mystery man” – are ready to spring into action, leap over 6-foot walls, when we need them the most and drag us out of harm’s way…When Hate Groups March Down Main Street! 

Terry Howard

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and story teller. He is also a contributing writer with the Chattanooga New Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Shenandoah Valley Hit, Catalyst, The Echo World, founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award. He can be reached at wwhoward3@gmail.com

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