QUIET CRUNCHING by mia hinkle

The Scribes assignment was to write a Thanksgiving story or a Halloween story. This is what I came up with. It is both a Halloween and a Thanksgiving story. Again, a true story.

“Now try to relax, Mr. Hinkle. You’re going to feel sort of a…well…a quiet crunching.”

The smooth steel rod had already been inserted firmly up the nostril against the cartilage. With a quick jerk, the doctor’s small but strong fingers snapped the nose again. The room went white. The taste and smell of blood was overwhelming, but the pain in his face, so near his brain, was off the hook! A hundred times worse than the pain he had felt just 24 hours ago when his nose was broken the first time, leaving it in a Z formation, drifting from the center of his face off to the right.

The pain made him sick to his stomach and weak in the knees. They had tried to deaden the tissue by sticking swabs soaked in a cocaine derivative into his nostrils. It was a flash of light and sound. Was it a quiet crunching or the sound of a nail gun going off in his head? It was hard to sort it out or think clearly.

“We’ve almost got it,” said the little doctor (he was about the size of a hobbit).




And…CRRRUNCH!…one more time aligning the septum with the rod.

In just a few moments the searing pain settled into the feeling of a screwdriver embedded between his eyes and silly putty up his nose. They handed him a mirror. He looked like Robert De Niro in Raging Bull…unrecognizable.

In the blink of an eye, yesterday’s fishing trip with his little boys had turned ugly. It was a warm sunny day in Chanhassen, Minnesota. They had borrowed Grandma’s car, grabbed the tackle box, and headed to Lotus Lake. At the top of the hill, they stopped to open the gate. He set the emergency brake (which incidentally hadn’t worked in years), put it in neutral, and got out to unchain the lock. Walker (age 6) and Jackson (age 3) unbuckled their seat belts and stood up, excited to finally be at the lake and ready to go fishing.

He walked around to the front of the old Honda Civic. As he reached for the chain and padlock, he noticed a crew of men working in the yard next to the beach property. About that time, he heard one of them say, “Oh oh!”

No time to react. No time to turn around and see it coming.

Now rolling at a pretty good clip down the steep driveway, the car hit him in the small of the back and threw him up on the hood. His head flew back and shattered the center of the windshield. There he lay…spread eagle atop the hood of the little car, the back of his head lodged in the dent of shattered safety glass. Thank God for safety glass!

The sky was so bright, like looking directly into a grand opening searchlight.

Then in an instant…BAM! The diagonal pipe of the iron gate smashed into his upper lip.

And again…BAM! The same pipe caught the bottom of his nose, collapsing it and pushing it off to the right in that Z formation.

And then…SCRRRAAAPE…across his forehead, before it came to rest at the very top of the windshield, preventing the car from traveling down the driveway between the trees and into the lake.

All of this happened in less than five seconds. In the blink of an eye.

Like a rag doll, he slumped forward off the hood onto his hands and knees in the gravel. Blood was pouring from his nose. One solitary thought, “I can’t let my sons see all this blood.”

The workmen came running. They called 911 and got the boys safely out of the car. A neighbor lady came out to see what all the commotion was about. She whisked the boys off to her house to play with her kids as the sirens of the ambulance drew closer.

We later asked Walker, who was standing up in the front seat, what he did when he saw Daddy’s head coming through the windshield. He said, “Well, I just stood up and shook all the ‘ice’ off my shirt.” Jackson, who was in the back seat, was so little, all he remembered later was playing foosball with the neighbor kids. He still has an aversion to fishing and lakes.

This may sound more like a Stephen King story than a Thanksgiving story, but I am here to tell you how thankful I am that it ended the way it did.

I am thankful the gate held…my little boys were in that car, and the lake was at the bottom of the drive.

I am thankful that my husband’s nose wasn’t driven up into his brain. I am thankful his skull wasn’t crushed or his neck broken. His teeth weren’t even chipped. Just a little lower and the pipe surely would have strangled him or at the very least damaged his throat. Just a little higher and the car could have slipped under the gate and down the hill with him still on the hood.

I am thankful he was hit before he unchained the gate. He would have been run over by his own car as it careened down the drive between mature trees toward the boat access.

I am thankful the safety glass remained intact. The back of his head and neck were not cut, although he did comb shards of glass out of his hair for a few days afterward.

I am thankful that none of that “ice” got in Walker’s eyes. Both boys escaped unscratched.

I am thankful the neighbor (who just happened to be a nurse) was home that day, and that those workman were right there (one of whom was an off duty EMT). Both gave him good advice and care until the ambulance arrived. The rest of the neighborhood was quiet and vacant.

Most of all, I am so thankful that God was watching over and protecting my family that day—

that I am not raising my kids as a single mother,

that they are not growing up without a dad,

and that I did not lose the love of my life that warm summer day.

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