Story: Hero

Heids was a vivacious woman and the belle of the Founder’s Day Ball. Nowadays, she was careful to not be obnoxious like she had been in her youth. On the contrary, she had turned into a voracious reader and stayed out of trouble. She’d labeled herself as “boring,” because no one took any interest in her. Well, no one but Henry. Heids sighed. Much to her surprise, she realized she was quite dispensable. She could easily be replaced as the city librarian, so who was she kidding? Just as sadly, no one was breaking her door down to spend time with her.

Henry thought Heids was indispensable, since she was so important to him. Not just for helping him at the library. No, he loved her for more than that. He figured the sun rose and set on her–why would he need more reasons to love her? He decided to state his feelings to her if he could get her alone.

Henry made the rounds at the ball. He ignored the old women gossiping at one end of the room, where they could see everything that was happening. All the better for gossiping, you see. Their husbands were on to them, of course, so they left the building by way of a side door. The weekly cigars they allowed themselves couldn’t wait any longer.

There were a few young women by the punch bowl, and they pretended to ignore the young bucks leaning against the wall. Otherwise, Henry saw a sea of faces and didn’t notice anything special going on. Henry knew he wasn’t all that attractive, and maybe he was boring, but even he was bored at this party.

The only reason he was here was because he worked for the Chamber of Commerce, and he had to make an appearance. He wondered where Heids was. She’d mentioned to him that she would probably try to be here. Too bad I didn’t officially ask Heids to be my date. If she was my date, I could’ve made sure she was here.

Meanwhile, Heids felt herself swallowed up into one big funk. She asked herself why she’d bother to come here tonight. She grew sweaty, and when she saw Henry on the opposite side of the room, chatting with a tiny little lady, she held her stomach. Then the room spun despite her admonishing herself to hold it together. She needed fresh air right now.

Heids hurried out the front door of the old, beautiful, saltbox-style home which held the Founder’s Day Ball. Two deep breaths later, two big guys jumped out of the bushes lining the walk. One of them held a handkerchief to her face, as it had been laced with a liquid knock-out drug. The other guy pushed her into the bush opposite the one they’d jumped out from.

Sixty minutes later, Heids stirred. Ouch! The bush she was stuck in scratched her face and unfortunately, her eyes too. Her limbs felt as stiff as concrete. Through half-closed eyes she noticed the front porchlight threw beams of light her way, but no one else was out there. Come to think of it, she couldn’t hear any music, either. What time was it, anyway?

“Oh my gosh,” someone yelled. The voice was familiar but she couldn’t place it. “Heids? I was wondering what happened to you,” Henry said.

“Help me,” Heids groaned, sounding guttural.

“Let me help you up,” came the words so dear to Heids. Now she knew she had been wrong about him. He was rescuing her from God-knows-who. Someone who treated her so well couldn’t be all that bad.

Heids found it amazing her mind was quick-moving, even if her body wasn’t. Every inch of her hurt. Finally the long branches of the bush released her into Henry’s arms. In the dim light, Henry anxiously searched her face.

“I’m going to help you get to my car, okay, Heids? I have a first aid kit in the front seat–you need it badly!” With one arm around her waist and the other one holding his phone, Henry guided Heids the short distance to the car. Being careful, he stood her up next to the car and called the police. Then Henry seated her in the front seat, sideways, so he could attend to the cuts on her face.

“Poor kid. Who did this to you, Heids?” Henry was ready to see justice done for Heids’ sake.

“Don’t know,” she mumbled.

With his first aid job done, Henry covered Heids with a blanket from the back seat, and he leaned against the car. The police should be here any minute now, and sure enough, they arrived quickly.

The police woman and her companion asked Henry and Heids about the evening. They promised to stay in touch if they found the perpetrator.

“Heids, I’m going to drive you home now. We can get your car back tomorrow. Right now, I think you need some sleep,” Henry said.

“…all taking charge and everything,” Heidi said. Henry smiled to himself. At least she didn’t try to get rid of him.

Upon reaching her driveway, Henry came around to Heids’ side of the car and opened the door. “Let’s get you inside. Here we go,” he said. But she burst into tears.

“I can’t move, really I can’t,” Heids said.

“No problem. Up we go,” he said as he lifted her gently into his arms and walked her up the front sidewalk. “I hope you have your keys with you.”

“Yup. But you have to dig in my purse for them.” Henry stood her up, steadied her with one hand and found her house keys with the other. In the dark, Henry had a hard time finding the lock on her door. Finally, they made it inside to her living room.

“Thank you, Mr. Florence Nightingale,” Heids tried to joke after he had given her some pain reliever he found. He’d also made sure she drank the full glass of water he’d poured.

Henry chuckled. “It’s my privilege and honor, you know?”

“Really. Then where have you been all my life?” she asked. She smiled in thankfulness when he swung her legs onto the couch and covered her with an afghan.

“Well, I’ve been waiting to tell you that. What I want to say is how I feel about you. How I’ve waited a long time to have you see me as more than just some dumb, awkward guy,” Henry confessed.

Heids yawned and scrunched up her face in pain from the scratches. “The joke is on me, then. You see, I see you in a new light now.”

Henry lifted up her feet and set them on his left leg where he sat. “How do you see me?”

Heids cleared her throat. She’d better tell him her feelings already.

“I see you as very important, very loving. A beautiful person. Oh, and something else.” She let her statement sink in before she continued.

“I announce to you, Henry McDermott, that you are my hero,” Heids said.

Henry let out a breath. “Wow, I have to make sure I don’t get a Popeye complex from that flattery. But seriously, I can say you’re my hero, too. Know that?”

“I know that now. I’d say you make a pretty good case for both of us being rescued tonight,” Heids said quietly.

“Whatever you say, pretty lady. I do know, though, that I should let you get some sleep. I’ll call you in the morning, okay?” Henry stood up and went to scrounge up a pillow for under Heid’s head. With the pillow in place, he kissed her lightly on her forehead and left the house.

It was surely a good night for heroes to get their sleep. A bright future awaited them.

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