The Tire Iron
by Peter Muilenburg
It’s a funny thing about coincidence…the dictionary defines it as something remarkable happening by chance… but the more powerful a coincidence is, the less likely it seems to be by chance. I experienced a “coincidence” once---was it just a fluke? Maybe, but you’ll never convince me… Some years ago my family and I were living on St. John -----the smallest and least developed of the US Virgin Islands. The old house we inhabited sat all by itself on a beautiful cove at at the end of a long unpaved road. Beautiful…but when we needed something it was a long way into town.
One morning while working on my boat I broke the last blade on my saber saw. Eager to get on with the job I decided to drive to a friend’s house and borrow a couple of blades.
But, lo and behold; my old vw bug had a flat tire. I crawled in the dirt under the car and positioned the jack, thinking wearily to myself that a lot of things seemed to be going wrong these days. I fumbled beneath the seat for the tire iron---a lug wrench that was a steel bar with a pry on one end and a curve with the exact socket on the other---but came up with zilch. I searched all through my shop, searched the house, asked the boys, with unnecessary severity, if they had been playing with it, then made them clean up their rooms anyway. Finally I had to trudge up the hill to see if any of my neighbors happened to have a lug wrench that would fit a vw bug. The day was glorious. Looking down the hill at the sea I could see the coast line blazing with aquamarine light, and right overhead I heard the throb of hummingbirds’ wings as they clustered around a century plant in full bloom. This was exactly why we had moved to “paradise”--- but I was too preoccupied to notice. None of the wrenches I borrowed fit. It was just one damn brick wall after another…! I was going to have to walk and hitch hike into town to buy one. Then I remembered it was a Sunday ---and everything was closed. My life was on hold till Monday. I had worked myself into self-pitying pit of bad feeling when my attention was drawn to a boat entering our cove. My good friend Bob Gross, shouted across the water “Hey Peter, want to go diving?”
“I’d like to but I’ve got a flat tire.”
“I said “diving” not “driving.” We don’t need tires.”
“Need a hand?”
“I need a tire iron for this relic of a vehicle---somehow it’s been misplaced, lost---or stolen!--- and there’s not another one like it on East End. I’ve been searching half the morning.”
“Well if you haven’t found it by now you might as well dive up some lobster instead. Anyway, it’s Sunday…day of rest. “
Clearly I needed to change my mood so I got my mask and fins and lobster snare, jumped into the boat and off we went, bouncing over the water, feeling the wind in my face and the sun on my back. My mood started to lift. I let myself go with the flow, and gave over the burden of making my life happen. We anchored off Turner Pt., a bold peninsula that juts almost a mile into the sea, put on our masks and fins, and fell into clear blue water, like liquid air. Our other senses stopped up by the sea, beauty entered through our eyes and exploded in our brains. We started free diving in about 20-30’ feet of water, we explored each cranny, looked underneath every ledge, peered into every cave. Up we went for new gulps of fresh sweet air, then down again holding our breath for another look The diving felt good, the exercise and the deep breathing, the blue water, the beauty of the coral . Relaxed now, absorbed in the sport, I glided down again towards a large brain coral that had a cave at its base. I looked in and saw a rock hind peering back and a platoon of glassy eyed sweepers patrolling restlessly…no lobster…yet there was something unusual, man made, resting on the sand. It was heavily overgrown with coral---and it looked a lot like a tire iron. Intrigued, I brought it to the surface and climbed into the boat. With a diving knife I started scraping off the coral. I could see it was steel. Bob emerged and watched fascinated as I scraped the coral off both ends… One end was like a pry bar and the curved end had a socket. No question…It was a tire iron. Incredulous now, consumed with curiosity, we forgot about lobster, got up the anchor and Bob fired it full throttle over the water back to our place. By the time we got there I had scraped the steel perfectly clean. Handling my find with a certain awe, I took it ashore, called my wife and the boys, showed them the tire iron…and holding my breath, tried it on a lug nut It fit. A snug, perfect fit Stunned, I changed the tire. Talk about coincidence! Hell, it was more like a miracle, that for a moment shifted the heavy curtain that almost blocks off everything behind this stage we’re playing on. It made me realize ---more is going on than meets the eye. So lighten up…
St. John Essence
Copyright 2008 by Thia Muilenburg
All rights reserved