Six-year-old Emily showed up at our house because her stepfather didn’t allow her to come home during the day, and she was hungry. Since then, she had become a wonderful part of my life. But as time went on, I knew I would soon finish my work in the area and would be transferred. I was concerned about Emily. Who would watch out for her?
But something happened that helped me know that she was going to be okay. One day my colleague and I were out working. We had just walked into a neighborhood when I heard a girl scream. I knew it was Emily, and looked toward the end of the street. A young man was trying to take her bike from her, and she was hanging on to it.
I dropped the things I was carrying and ran toward the two of them. But before I could get there, they were suddenly surrounded by a group of rough looking young men who were covered in tattoos and dressed in leather. I didn’t know what I could do against all of them, but, fearing for her safety, I never even slowed.
As I approached the group, Emily saw me and ran to me, throwing herself into my arms. But the situation was far different than I had thought, for the leader of the group of young men was speaking harshly to the one that had been trying to take the bike. “What are you doing to Emily?”
“This happens to be my bike,” he replied bravely. “I’d recognize it anywhere.”
“Oh, you’d look cute riding a bike with Teddy Bears on it,” one of the young men said.
The group laughed, but the first young man stood his ground. “I meant it was my little sister’s bike.”
“That’s a lie,” the group leader said. “I found this bike when it was just a piece of junk, and I gave it to Emily. She’s the one that got it fixed up.”
“It still belonged to my sister,” the first one said, “and she should get something for it.”
Feeling out of place in my suit, I stepped into the circle, and everyone turned to stare at me. “How much do you think your sister should have for it?” I asked.
“Ten bucks,” he replied.
“Ten bucks!” the group leader said. “*#&@, it weren’t worth a dime.”
I dug into my wallet, pulled out eight ones and awkwardly fumbled for enough change to make the other two dollars. Finally, when I had enough, I handed it to him. “Here’s the money. Now, you leave Emily alone.”
As the young man was about to leave, the group leader grabbed him by the shirt. “If you ever touch Emily again, it will be the last conscious thing you ever do. Got it?”
The young man nodded. The group leader then gave the young man a shove toward the street, and he headed off as fast as he could run. The group leader then turned to me. “I see you’re a friend of Emily’s.”
I nodded. “And I see you are, too.”
“We all are,” one of the other men said.
“And no one better touch Emily while we’re around,” another one added. “Or they will be *#&@ sorry.”
The leader held out his hand to do a knuckle bump. “J.C.’s the name, but most people call me Astro.” I introduced myself, and each of the young men in turn introduced themselves, with each introduction followed by a knuckle bump.
“Thanks for helping Emily,” I said.
“You, too,” the leader replied.
They all wandered off, leaving Emily and me alone.
“Emily, you know how you asked if God provides angels to watch over you?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Well, it looks like sometimes those angels come covered in tattoos and dressed in leather,” I said.