Not Easily Brokenby T. D. Jakes, Tracey Leigh
Clarice and Dave have differing opinions on what it means to be
After years of disagreeing on what true happiness, success, and love really is, Dave and Clarice Johnson finally face the breaking point of their marriage. When Clarice's leg is crushed in a car wreak, the obvious truth that more than just her injuries need immediate attention is finally exposed.
Clarice and Dave have differing opinions on what it means to be successful and to live a meaningful life. Clarice is driven by her quest to climb the social ladder. Dave is satisfied coaching little league and running a janitorial service. Dave feels at home in his blue jeans and pick-up truck. Clarice is a designer label-luxury car kind of woman.
After Clarice sustains injuries in a car accident, the constant presence of her physical therapist, Julie, and the mentoring relationship between Dave and Julie's son create strife that quickly moves the Johnson's marriage to crisis. Clarice and Dave struggle to find restoration as they learn the importance of promises made and kept.
This is the saga of a disparate couple struggling to save a marriage that seems doomed. Clarice's bitter, single mother raised her to believe that trusting another and relying on anyone for help and comfort demonstrated a weakness that would get her hurt. As a result, Clarice is busily climbing the ladder of success while being ashamed of her husband's "lack of drive." Dave, on the other hand, is committed to helping others. A former schoolteacher, he has started a janitorial service to provide jobs for individuals who don't have the skills for any other type of work. He also coaches a Little League baseball team in the inner city. Dave and Clarice's marriage is successful on the surface, though lack of communication and common goals have severely undermined its stability. An automobile accident exacerbates their problems, as Clarice, though severely injured, refuses help and comfort from Dave, who aches to show his love through caring for her. The question arises whether either Dave or Clarice still care enough for each other to save their marriage. Tracey Leigh is an excellent reader; she makes each character individual and easily identifiable by voice and accent, and her portrayal of Clarice's mother is priceless. Though this isn't a pleasant book, it is a gripping portrayal of a marriage in trouble. Recommended; especially suitable for Christian fiction collections.
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Not Easily BrokenA Novel
By T. D. Jakes
FAITHWORDSCopyright © 2006 TDJ Enterprises, LLP
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBy the time Dave Johnson saw the oncoming headlights it was too late to do anything but hold on and pray. He jammed his foot onto the brake pedal and twisted the wheel to the left, but the blur of steel and glass still came straight for the passenger side of his pickup.
It was weird. One part of his mind knew things were happening in split seconds, but everything also seemed to slow down, like an instant replay where the sportscasters try to show whether the receiver's foot was or wasn't inbounds when he caught the ball. Dave heard Clarice screaming as the oncoming car slammed into the side of his Club Cab. Tortured metal squealed and there was a crunch as the safety glass in the passenger window disintegrated. Dave felt the air whoosh from his lungs as his chest slammed into the shoulder harness; the pickup skidded sideways and the tires screamed against the pavement.
Finally, everything stopped moving. Dave's fingers were jerky and uncertain from the adrenaline pouring through his body, but somehow he thumbed the button on his seat belt. He pulled the latch and shoved against his door. To his surprise, it swung open easily, as if nothing had happened. The damage must be completely on the passenger's side. Clarice!
He leaned toward her. "Baby! You okay? Clarice?" Her eyes were closed and her head lay back on the headrest, her face turned toward him. Dave'sheart crowded up under his Adam's apple. He put his hand on her neck, then her chest, feeling for a pulse, for breathing, for anything. "Clarice, honey! Wake up, baby!" There ... her chest rose and fell. She was breathing. Relief flooded through Dave like cold water rushing over parched ground. She was alive. But why wouldn't she wake up?
Dave got out of the truck and ran around to the passenger side. He sucked in a breath. The right side, from the passenger door to halfway across the front quarter panel, was completely caved in. His wife must be pinned inside the vehicle. Someone was grabbing at him, talking to him.
"Oh my Lord, man, I'm so sorry!" Dave pulled his eyes away from the pickup and looked into the pale, scared face of a kid who might be as old as seventeen. He had his cap turned backward and the ragged, sleeveless T-shirt he was wearing said something about not caring so much about reality. His chin had a few stray reddish-blond hairs sprouting from it, the beginnings of a beard.
"Man, I tried to stop, I swear to God. Was the light red? Oh God, man, are you okay?"
"You got a cell phone?" Dave said. The kid nodded.
"Call 911." "Okay, man, but are you okay?"
"Just dial it! My wife's in there and she can't get out." "Oh, sweet Jesus-" "Dial the phone!"
The kid's head bobbed up and down. "Yeah, sure, okay." He tugged a palm-sized silver phone out of his pocket, flipped it open, and started punching buttons.
People were coming out of the grocery store located at one corner of the intersection. Somebody was trying to direct traffic around the scene. Another onlooker peered into Clarice's window. Dave turned back to his pickup.
"I saw the whole thing," a man said while coming up behind Dave. "You had the green light. The kid never even slowed down. Probably high or drunk or something."
"My wife's in there and I think she's pinned," Dave called, running around to the driver's side. In the distance, he heard a siren. He crawled back inside and realized the pickup's engine was still running. He switched it off and leaned over his wife, cupping the crown of her head in his hand.
Shouldn't move her, in case of spinal injuries. She's breathing, thank you, Jesus. Is she in shock? What do you do for somebody in shock? When's the ambulance gon' get here? Is gas leaking out under the truck? Hope somebody makes sure that kid don't run off. Are the paramedics here yet? Is my wife dying?
He stroked her cheek. "Clarice? Boo, I'm here with you. Baby girl, can you wake up?"
Her lips moved and she let out a low moan. Her eyes shifted back and forth beneath closed eyelids.
"Clarice? Baby, can you hear me?" The moan was louder this time. Her eyelids fluttered, then opened. Dave thought she was looking at him. "Hey, Reesie. That you?" He tried to smile.
Clarice moaned again, and this time the sound swelled and climbed the scale all the way to a scream.
"David, my leg, my leg! Lord Jesus have mercy, David, I think my leg must be broken!" She clawed at him and shoved uselessly against the mangled door pressing in against her right side.
Dave stared helplessly and tried to gentle her with his hands, his voice. "Shh now, baby girl, we gon' get you out, don't you worry. They almost here, we gon' get you out of there and you'll be fine, you'll see. Easy now, baby."
He might as well have been talking to the wind. Clarice moaned and twisted her body as much as she could. The pain was killing her, she said. "David, do something, get me some help," she pleaded.
Dave hopped out of the truck just as a fire engine pulled up, its air brakes yelping and hissing. Two firefighters jumped out of the cab and a third was already pulling a chemical extinguisher from a rack and eyeing the pavement beneath the two vehicles. As they came toward him, Dave noticed the kid's car, a mid-nineties Bronco. He realized he didn't need to worry about the boy fleeing the scene; the front end of the Bronco looked like somebody had tossed a hand grenade under the hood, then taken a jackhammer to the front grille. Dave had a fleeting sense of grim satisfaction.
"That your wife in there?" the firefighter asked him. Dave nodded. "I think she's pinned. Her leg's hurting pretty bad," he said, though he probably didn't need to, since Clarice's announcements about her condition had not decreased in volume. It was good to hear her voice, though; it told him she was at least well enough to keep her lungs aired out.
"We'll have to get the can opener," the firefighter said. He turned to his colleagues. "Hey, guys, we need the Jaws." He went over to Clarice's window and started talking to her. Dave noticed she seemed to be listening, nodding every once in a while. Good. She couldn't be that badly off if she could understand and respond. But her twisted face said she was still in immense pain.
Dave replayed the moments leading up to the crash. He and Clarice had been arguing-a scene all too common these last few months, it seemed. Dave searched his memory for any clue that his frustration with Clarice might have caused him to pay less attention. If Clarice hadn't been going off on him, would he have noticed the kid speeding up to the red light?
He could tell when he came home that the evening wasn't going to be smooth. The Board of Realtors dinner was that night, and wouldn't you know it, one of his building managers had a shift leader quit right before closing time. Dave had to go over there and calm down the agitated manager, then walk her through the process of setting up a temporary shift roster so the building would be covered.
They'd figure out a more permanent solution the next day, he told her. The main thing was that the customer's building was clean and ready for the next day's business.
So he got home an hour late, and when he walked in Clarice had that pinch-lipped look, and the hands-on-her-hips pose told Dave Mama ain't happy. Which was no big surprise, but he was hoping that for once he could get his explanation in without her going all eastside-westside on him. He couldn't.
"Are you telling me some minimum-wage vacuum jockey is going to cause me to be late to my professional dinner? Is that the best reason you can come up with to embarrass me in front of my peers?" Clarice's voice was rising and falling like a preacher coming to the end of a sermon. She had her dress on, the nice silky red one that draped her just right. She was made up, her lipstick all shiny and wet-looking on her full, soft lips. She was looking fine, or would, if her face wore some expression besides the one she was aiming at him now, looking at him like he was some raggedy, no-count kid who'd knocked a baseball through the front window of her plans for the evening. Clarice had one pump on, and she held the other in her hand and wagged it at Dave as she preached; he found it hard to take his eyes off the three-inch spike heel, considering the mood she was in right now.
"I couldn't help it, Boo, I told you. Charmaine's my newest manager and I had to walk her through this one time." "This one time. This one time, did you say?"
Dave caught himself listening for the organist to start the altar call. "How many times have you had to drop everything to rescue one of your managers?" The way she said the last word, it sounded like it had quote marks around it. "How many times have I gotten home, thinking we might have a quiet evening together for once, only to find out somebody didn't show up somewhere, and you had to take it on yourself to cover? I'm so tired of this, David. I work so hard at the agency to be professional. I work so hard to present myself to my colleagues and my clients in a way that speaks well of me ... and my family."
"Clarice, I know you do. You the hardest-working woman I ever saw. All I'm sayin' is-"
"But it discourages me when, at any moment, my husband can disrupt what I'm trying so hard to cultivate. It discourages me that I can't even count on one simple evening to go as I expected."
"Baby, we'll get to the dinner. Just let me shower and change real quick."
She looked at him slantways, clearly skeptical. They'd walked out of the house fifteen minutes before the dinner was to start, and Dave thought they were going to make it. The drive was silent for the first three or four minutes. Maybe, just this once, Clarice would resist the urge to take up her campaign for him to sell his janitorial business and find work "that amounts to something." But just after he pulled out onto South First, she said, "David, I know you don't want to hear this, but-"
He felt his shoulders droop and a sigh went out of him. He fastened his eyes on the road ahead and let Clarice's lecture tumble past his ears without stopping, like some kind of really annoying elevator music. Why couldn't she just be satisfied with him the way he was? What was wrong with All-Pro Janitorial and Carpet Cleaning? It was a good business, and he'd built it from the ground up, one contract at a time. After years of teaching and coaching, he finally had his dream: self-employment. They had a nice house and two low-mileage cars, and the only reason Clarice was still selling real estate was supposed to be for vacation money. These last couple of years, though, Dave had begun to suspect there was more to it than that.
Dave watched the firefighters positioning the Jaws of Life, a steel contraption with hoses and handles leading off every which way. The blades looked like they could cut through the hull of a battleship, and as Dave looked on, the firefighters positioned them at the seam between the passenger door and front quarter panel of his pickup. He heard the whine of the hydraulics and watched the blades bite into the frame of his truck. The metal growled and popped as the bottom hinge separated like construction paper cut by scissors. One of the men bent to support the door's weight as they moved the Jaws to cut the top hinge.
"Lean away from the door as much as you can, ma'am," one of them said to Clarice as Dave approached. "Can I help?" he asked.
"Stand back for just a moment, sir, and then we'll get you to help us make sure we get the door off without hurting her."
The Jaws sheared the top hinge and the door's weight settled into the firefighter's hands. Slowly and carefully, checking with Clarice all the while, they peeled away the caved-in door. Dave scanned Clarice's right side and was almost sick to his stomach.
Her leg below the knee was bent as if it contained pipe cleaner instead of bone. Already the swelling and purpling had transformed her shapely calf and ankle into something resembling a huge spoiled sausage. Her red high heel was still on her foot, but the flesh of her ankle had swollen around it so that the edges of the pump were starting to cut into her.
"Oh, baby girl. We got to get you to a hospital." "That looks like a pretty bad break," a firefighter said. "Anybody heard from the paramedics?" He reached for his walkie-talkie.
Clarice was moaning softly now, like a child worn out from too much crying. "It hurts, David. It hurts so bad."
"I know, Boo. We gon' get you fixed up soon as we can." He held her face and cooed to her, even as he wondered where on God's earth the ambulance could be.
In a minute or two, the ambulance whooped to a stop and the paramedics started unpacking a stretcher. As Dave looked on, they gently and efficiently unfolded Clarice from the ruined pickup and positioned her on the stretcher. They unfolded something that looked like a beach toy and wrapped it around Clarice's leg, fastening it with Velcro. They started pumping air into it with a small electric pump.
"Inflatable splint," one of the paramedics told Dave. "Should keep her leg still and more comfortable until we get her to the hospital."
A policeman tapped Dave on the shoulder. "Sir, I've already talked to several witnesses and the driver of the other vehicle. Everybody seems pretty unanimous that the kid ran a red light. Could I just get a couple of minutes? It'll be that long before the ambulance is ready to transport her. Just need your name, address, phone number, that sort of thing."
Dave talked to the officer, all the time keeping one eye on Clarice and the paramedics surrounding her. They put a neck brace on her. "Just a precaution," they said. They told her that her leg appeared to be broken in several places below the knee, and that she had severe bruising all along her right side and arm. One of them cut the shoe off her foot. Dave remembered the day Clarice had brought the shoes home. "Forty percent off at Talbot's," she told him triumphantly. Dave wondered how long it would be before she'd be able to wear spike heels again.
The paramedics loaded Clarice into the ambulance and Dave excused himself from the police officer. He crawled in beside his wife and took her hand. "How you doing, Reesie?" She looked at him. "What's going to happen, David? Where we going?"
"To the hospital, baby. We got to get your leg fixed." But she must have been addled from the pain, because it was like he hadn't said anything. "Where we going, David? Where we going?" She kept saying it, over and over, like she was talking in her sleep.
Dave patted her hand and wished the ambulance would hurry up and get moving.
Excerpted from Not Easily Broken by T. D. Jakes Copyright © 2006 by TDJ Enterprises, LLP. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
T. D. Jakes, one of the world's most widely recognized pastors, is the bestselling author of Woman Thou Art Loosed and sixteen other popular books. He has inspired millions through his speaking tours, and his television show, The Potter's Touch, airs weekly on Trinity Broadcast Network. The senior pastor of The Potter's House, a multiracial, nondenominational church, Bishop Jakes lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and five children. You can read more about Jakes and his ministry at tdjakes.org and thepottershouse.org.
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