The following is an excerpt from chapter 15 of my autobiographical story, “Miracles, Signs and Wonders,” a 248-page manuscript that I hope to be putting up for you to read on my website www.propheticsignsandwonders.com.
My son Mike was ten years old at the time of this occurrence. At the time, I was getting around on a Suzuki S10 motorcycle. The motorcycle was economical, ran well, and I had already traveled halfway across the country on it.
Michael had hooked up with me at my mother’s house in Michigan when I was called to be there for a couple of films. I had just made my own first film in the small town of Eaton Rapids, where she lived and where we were staying together during summer school vacation. Summer finally ended, and I had to take him back to North Dakota to his mother and younger brother Matt for the school year.
Since the motorcycle was running well, and with nothing better to do while waiting for my call time, I phoned his mother to say I would be bringing Mike back through the Upper Peninsula and over Upper Chicago to the North country. Mike and I always chummed around together and went on camping, fishing, and exploring expeditions. This would be just another adventure for us. We would begin traveling on a Sunday when traffic would be sparse.
I had already become a somewhat seasoned “believer” and had no qualms about the undertaking. We had our two-man tent rolled up on the back of the bike, my big trusty hunting knife in a backpack, and a change of clothes – just in case.
The first part of our journey went without a hitch and was enjoyable with the breeze whipping by as we tooled along at about 60 miles an hour – both of us wearing helmets. We were making good time.
We stopped about halfway to the Upper Peninsula to rest and eat, then continued. The traffic was light, but it was getting late, and I was tired. So we stopped at a 7/11 store; it was about eleven at night. The clerk was a young hippie-type girl about 20 or so years old. We ate a hot dog, and I asked if we could pitch our tent behind the store. The girl made a phone call and said, “Come and spend the night at our place. I live in a commune close by.”
Why not, I thought. I thanked her and followed her home.
The others were expecting us and were friendly, but they were the typical hippy-types, and although they offered us some spaghetti, we declined. Our lady friend showed us the empty room where a mattress was laid out on the floor for us. Mike and I were both tired and lay down immediately after I fished the hunting knife from our backpack and tucked it under my pillow.
We could hear the ugly hard-rock music emanating from the living room wafting on heavy pot smoke. We both finally went to sleep and were up early in the morning. The motorcycle had strangely begun acting up by the time we began making out the Mackinac bridge in the distance. We could see it from miles away. Little did I know the size and height of the bridge. As we drew closer, it became intimidating, and I began having serious thoughts about turning back.
I thought about all the things that could go wrong once we got on the bridge and felt a cold chill crawl across my body.
Suspension bridges are designed to move to accommodate wind, change in temperature, and weight. The deck at the center span could move as much as 35 feet (east or west) due to high winds. The bridge is one of the highest in the world. The height of the roadway at mid-span is approximately 200 feet above water level.
Suddenly, I remembered the story about a car blowing off the bridge a few years before. (In a highly publicized incident, a woman came to a stop in her ’87 blue Yugo on the enormous bridge, attempting to wait out high winds, when a 55-mph gust blew her car over the edge. Plunging to the water below, she did not survive the accident.) Having hung from off of towering structures during my welding days, I wasn’t too fearful of heights, but I had my young son with me and was responsible for his health and wellbeing. What an arrogant fool I had been to get us into this predicament, I rightly thought. I shuddered and said a silent prayer.
Just then, the motorcycle began to spit and sputter and eventually ground to a halt. Michael and I had just dismounted when an eighteen-wheeler pulled up behind us and offered us a ride. The middle-aged man and I loaded up the bike on the empty flatbed and tied her down.
Mike sat behind me and looked over my right shoulder as we crossed the bridge at the water 200 feet below. He, like me, isn’t squeamish about anything.
We made it to the other side, and wouldn’t you know it, off to the left was a campsite, so we set up camp after eating. I thanked God for our good fortune, but He wasn’t finished yet.
Mike’s mother arrived that very night, awakened us, and took Mike away. I cried – my little pal was gone, and I was all alone in the world again.
Long story short, I made my way back to the gas station where we were let off the day before. After coffee, I went back outside, looked the motorcycle over, and surmised that there was no hope of fixing it out here in the open. Then, just as I was despairing, I happened to glance directly across the highway. Lo and behold, there was a motorcycle leaning up against a house that looked like mine. In fact, it was identical!
I hurried over to see if it was for sale since I could make out that it hadn’t been moved in a while. Sure enough, the owner confirmed that it had been sitting a while but that it wasn’t for sale. “Best bike I ever owned,” he said, “I’m gonna fix her up as soon as I find parts, which is hard to find, don’t ya know?”
A light bulb went off in my head. “Look across the street,” I said, pointing. “See the motorcycle sitting over next to the gas station? It’s exactly like this one, and you can have it for parts for three hundred dollars.” The man looked over at my bike and, with hopeful eyes, said, “Nope! Best I can do is two fifty!”
“It’s yours,” I replied. I bought a ticket on the bus and made it back in time to work on the movies, “Collision Course” and “American Cops,” an Italian film in Detroit.
The moral of this excerpt is that God will sometimes intervene with incredible fixes to our mistakes – if we are His.