The Luckiest Man in the World: Part IV

Chico’s Enterprise Record headline read, “He Really Is the Luckiest Man in the World!” This time his story received national coverage. He was interviewed by every major news organization and talk show; his 60 Minutes segment was the third most-watched in the show’s history. He was hugged by Michael and kissed by Kelly and Oprah, and Bob’s wife negotiated a million-dollar book deal with Random House. In every interview and in his book, Bob insisted that luck had nothing to do with what happened that day on Nord Road. No one believed him except God and the Devil.

In contrast to Bob’s almost immediate notoriety, Frank was allotted only fifteen minutes of fame. While his parishioners attributed his injuries to the Devil, it was obvious that his reckless driving could easily have killed Bob, the meteor strike notwithstanding. It was also true that an overwhelming majority of Evangelical Christians believed in a God that punished sinners using “natural events,” which clearly included meteors. In reality, of course, it was impossible to interview Frank for three months after the meteor strike—and after that, it was tedious in the extreme to interview someone who could only communicate by blinking his eyes.

The only picture that Edie supplied to the press (two weeks after the accident) was a grainy black-and-white passport photo. Everyone who knew Frank testified that he was unusually camera shy. Very little background history on Frank was possible. Every lead ended in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where not one resident could be found who knew him personally or recognized his picture.

scifi1

Edie’s friends and parishioners conscientiously spent time at Frank’s bedside during the three months he was hospitalized, and during the final two years of his life in a skilled nursing facility. Edie did nothing to assuage the notion that demonic forces had attempted to end the life and work of a powerful servant of God. She had three reasons for doing this. First, that idea almost immediately doubled church attendance. Second, outright donations and new pledges of future financial support enabled the church building committee to hire a contractor and begin construction within four months of the meteor strike.

Edie’s third reason was a personal one. The surviving contents of Frank’s car included an unfamiliar banged-up laptop computer, Easter Sunday airline tickets—SMF to ORD—for a Christopher Reason, and a 22-caliber Colt revolver loaded with hollow-point ammunition. In addition to house and car keys, there were keys to Frank’s desk and a small fireproof filing cabinet.

A week after the accident, Edie’s curiosity triumphed over her shock and grief, and she unlocked the desk and filing cabinet. In addition to discovering a small expensive-looking safe, Edie found that Frank’s files contained unsettling information about his past life and business dealings. When she had the safe drilled open and information from the laptop’s hard drive retrieved, she realized that she was lucky to be alive—and that she was, potentially, a very rich lady. The Internet made it remarkably easy, given the account number and security codes, to begin to transfer money from Frank’s bank account in Houston to her own.

Edie waited until Frank was out of intensive care before she told him that because of the accident, church attendance had doubled, the church building campaign was a success, and the new preacher and his family were the darlings of the community. She also informed him that there was still time to repent and give his heart to the Lord, and that his money was supporting Oprah’s Angel Network, and Doctors Without Borders. Edie had read somewhere that eyes were a mirror of the soul. In Frank’s case, she hoped it wasn’t so.

scifi3

Tags: