Fumblin' Bill

Bill was just a natural born fumbler. In fact he came from a long line of fumblers. Old Granddaddy Jim fumbled his way though life until he had almost reached his eightieth year. Then, one day with the sun shining brightly in his old, defeated eyes, he approached an excavation and toddled off into space.

Bill's father was a chip off the old block, and one day walked into the heels of a kicking mule.

Bill's mother had died at the birth of her only child and Bill was just eighteen years of age at the time of his dad's last fumble. Bill had attended a country school, off and on, but didn't seem to take to "book-learnin", and was the despair of his teachers. In the games with other children he had never been popular for he just didn't seem to fit, for there was no incentive to accomplish anything. He drifted about doing odd-jobs for the neighbors, but his efforts were so half-hearted that he was firmly placed as a fumbler just as his dad and his grand-daddy had been before him. After his father was laid away in the little country cemetery, Bill felt utterly dazed and helpless. He hired out to a farmer, but his performance was so indifferent that he found himself all but penniless and out of a job. He aimlessly walked down the road. He had no destination in mind, but merely by instinct he moved on.

Bill scarcely knew when he was crossing the intersection of two heavily traveled highways, and neither did he see the large automobile bearing down upon him. In relating the incident later, Bill said, "The first thing I knowed, I didn't know nothin". When he began regaining consciousness, Bill thought that he must surely be in Heaven. Soft hands were smoothing his brow, and then his head was cradled in arms that seemed to give him the greatest peace that he had ever known. Then fully awake, he gazed up into the clearest eyes that he had ever seen. Eyes as blue as the blue-bells that bloomed dawn in the old pasture with the morning dew clinging to their petals. And then a voice, sweeter than any music he had ever heard said, "He's coming to, Daddy". A gruff male voice answered, "Thank God". The man raised the boy tenderly in his arms and placed him on the rear seat of the limousine standing by the roadside. Bill, with his gaze still on the girl, murmured "what happened"? The father answered, "later my boy for the details, we're on our way to a hospital now".

The girl slipped into the seat beside Bill and the father speeded the car toward the town. Bill felt, what he termed "Sort o' Woozy"; but with the girl's supporting arm around him and his head pressed down upon her shoulder, he in his heart gave thanks for automobiles that could "Knock a feller into a Paradise like this".

The doctor said, "Bruised and shaken up a bit, but nothing serious, nothing at all to worry about. Better stay in bed until tomorrow, then you can go home". "Go Home", and then it came to Bill that of all the countless millions of people in the world, most of them had homes; but he was without a home, without money, and altogether useless. The man and girl left him, promising to return at an early hour the following morning. When they had gone, it seemed to Bill that clouds had hidden the sun. He had never really been lonely before. True, he had spent much of his life without the company of others, but this was different. For a little time he had felt that he somehow belonged to somebody, that someone was really interested in his welfare. But now, such a feeling of aching emptiness overcame him that tears of self-pity coursed down his cheeks unchecked.

The next morning Heaven again opened, for coming toward him was the vision that in his dreams had bound up his wounds and healed his hurts. And when her hand was in his he felt a new life coursing through his veins, and the smile on her lips and the song in his heart gave promise of tomorrows to come, where the road lay straight and true, ever upward to the heights. And for Bill, there would be no more fumbling.

February 19, 1950