It was the early 1930s in Chicago during the Great Depression. A doctor told this story to his brother…
Dr. Brown late one night was awakened from a sound sleep by the phone ringing. He groggily groped for the receiver trying to find his glasses on the nightstand.
A husky voice on the other end pleaded, “Is this Dr. Brown?”
The doctor reassured the caller that he had reached the right number. The male voice became more desperate, “Can you come quickly? It is a matter of life and death.”
Again the doctor reassured the caller, “Yes, of course, where do you live?” The voice mumbled a number and street as the doctor found his pencil and pad of paper, he asked the man to repeat it. “It is 17 Alan Street, please hurry.”
|State Street Chicago 1930s.|
It being the middle of the night the doctor drove across town quickly not having to fight the usual traffic. He drove into a neighborhood that was in a poorer section that was run down. He knew many who would not venture into this area even in the middle of the day.
He found the street and then the house number but oddly no lights were on at the address. He hesitated, then grabbed his bag and walked up the steps to the door. He rang the bell and waited, no answer so he rang once more. He tried a third time--still no response.
As he turned to leave he heard a gruff voice, “Who’s there?”
It’s Dr. Brown, someone called for medical assistance.”
“Nobody here called you. You best leave.”
The doctor retraced his steps to the car looking to see if he might have read the number wrong. He had written the number “17.” He looked around but none of the homes on the block had lights on. He headed home wondering if it had just been someone’s idea of a good prank.
He did not receive a follow up call that night or the next day so he soon forgot about the incident. Several weeks later he received a call from the hospital requesting he come to the emergency ward immediately.
A nurse at the reception area told him that a patient who had been involved in a severe accident had begged the staff to call him. She told him the man did not have much longer to live.
She escorted him into a large ward where a man heavily bandaged lay in a corner bed. Dr. Brown glanced at his chart but he did not recognize his name.
The man looked up at him, “Dr. Brown, you don’t know me but I have to talk to you. I need to beg your forgiveness.”
Puzzled, the doctor moved to the side of the bed and nodded to the nurse to leave. The dying man continued.
“Several weeks ago I called you late one night.” He hesitated and then continued, “My family, …I have been out of work for months, there was no money, I couldn’t feed my children…”
As his voice faded the doctor leaned forward to hear his words. “I need your forgiveness.”
More confused, the doctor shook his head no and stated, “You don’t…”
The man gripped his hand stopping him, “Yes, I do. You see that night I had planned to kill you. I was going to take your money and instruments.”
Horrified, the doctor managed to reply, “But you didn’t kill me.”
“I intended to, but when I saw the big powerful young man standing at your side I was afraid. So I sent you away. Can you forgive me?”
“Yes, of course.” Dr. Brown replied in a daze. The man’s grip loosened and fell from the doctor's hand. He had held it all this time. He took one last gasping breath and died.
As Dr. Brown recounted this story to his brother he paused, "I suspected it was just a prank. I didn’t even know I had come so close to death. Let alone that my guardian angel had saved my life that night." He shook his head in wonder, "he only appeared to my assailant."