To Alec’s surprise, Todd seemed neither upset not defensive at the accusation. He pushed his plate forward, and folded his hands on the table. “I’m not accustomed to speaking about myself, as I’d much rather heat what others have to say. But if it would set your mind at ease, then please, ask me any question you’d like. I promise to answer as truthfully as possible.”
“All right. Let’s start at the beginning. Who was — ”
A sharp cry from outside interrupted their conversation. Alec sat up quickly, recognizing the voice of his niece Amanda. Her mother reached the front door before Alec, and the two of them raced into the yard, where children were gathered in a circle. Ignoring the stream of frantic explanations, Alec helped pull the children away to give room for his sister-in-law to attend to Amanda.
“Mom!” Amanda was writhing on the brown grass, her right hand grasping at her left shoulder. “It HURTS so MUCH!”
“Just breathe, dear.” Amanda’s mother helped the girl sit up, her arm lying useless at her side. Alec’s medical knowledge was limited, but he knew his niece’s shoulder was separated. Amanda’s father was soon at their side — “Don’t worry, darling. We’ll get you to a doctor.”
“If I may.” All eyes, young and old, turned in the direction of Todd. “The nearest hospital is twenty minutes away, and who knows how the emergency room will be staffed today. I know how to help your daughter — please, trust me.”
A swift survey by Amanda’s father revealed that none of the adults had medical training, and Grammie Alice knew of no doctors or nurses in the neighborhood. The girl was whimpering, and the car ride to the hospital promised further discomfort, followed by a disheartening wait. The father sighed, and waved Todd over — “You’ve done this before?”
Todd nodded as he stepped forward. “I’m a volunteer on overseas missions, and work with children like your daughter on a regular basis.” Todd knelt down beside Amanda, and encouraged her parents to hold the girl as he took hold of her shoulder.
He brushed hair from Amanda’s forehead. “You are going to feel a sharp pain, but it will go away quickly. I need you to relax your body, as much as possible. Can you do that for me?” Amanda nodded, her face contorted with pain and confusion, as Todd nodded to her parents and then grabbed the girl’s shoulder.
“YEEEEAAAAAH” Amanda’s scream was filled with more agony than anyone in the family had heard before, and the girl shot from her parents’ grasp. She stumbled forward two steps, turned back to Todd — and raised her left arm, crying now in relief rather than pain.