Constable McCoy's injuries were serious. “In that ordeal I suffered a broken coccyx bone, a chipped spinal cord, injuries to my knee caps and hands, plus numerous superficial injuries.” McCoy was taken first to the clinic in Lower Bogue--his wife, Portia, was told that he was dead -- and then air-lifted to Nassau where he spent a week and a half recuperating in hospital.
The next day, Tuesday, Sam Pedican was found floating face up south of the bridge near tiny Goulding Cay. He was naked.
The experience left McCoy with a dread of the bridge: “Even now, every time I reach that certain spot on the bridge and have to slow down, something in the back of my mind say that wave is going to come again and knock me over.” It also made a Christian of him. Before I left, he read me a poem he'd written one restless night after the rage that killed Sam Pedican, when he was having nightmares.
It was a cool and windy Monday morning;
I left home for work a few hours after dawn.
In route to the Glass Window bridge to render some help,
I never even thought of endangering myself,
I saw a crowd gather as we drew nigh,
The waves looked like they were reaching the sky.
Above the roaring waves and the air full of mist
I saw the gentleman we needed to assist;
My two comrades ran across the bridge quickly
As I waited for the man who had stopped suddenly.
He was saying something that I could not understand.
He then looked up at the sky and I reached for his hand;
I then heard a rushing wave, and the last thing I could see
Was a huge white wave crashing down on me.
I was afraid, I did not know what to do.
I felt I would never make it through.
My heart trembled with a fear that I could not confine,
My mama always told me that God is by my side.
I never thought that I would make it,
After being dragged and knocked about with rocks.
I heard someone say it was only good luck,
But I called on the Lord, oh, there is power in that name
And from that day on my life is not the same.
On that day He took one child home, and brought one to the fold.
He gave me a new life, and for Him I am bold.
Only God knew that I would make it that day.
What the future holds, no man can say,
For each of us God has a master plan;
You may run like Jonah, but you can't shun His hand.
God, He has seen what we all do.
When I was in sin, he saw me too.
He could have left me there to die,
Or even let the waves pass by.
God used the swelling tide to show me I cannot hide.
God could have done anything He wanted to do,
He let me live so that I can tell you.
He let me fall and fixed me back upright
And wrote my name in the large book of life.
From McCoy's house in Lower Bogue I drove north along the Queen's Highway past the airport road to Harbour Island (aka “Briland”) turning left to the Bluff settlement. Rolling into the village, I stopped to ask the first person I saw where Sam Pedican's widow lived.
“The blue house just there behind the church,” said the toothless old man from under his ball cap.
I turned and turned along the narrow streets, all the while in sight of Mrs. Pedican's house, but ended up at the public dock. It seemed that no street took my car to Mrs. Pedican's house, so I doubled back and parked at the church and walked to the neat, royal blue house where Sam Pedican's widow lived.
Pedican's teenage daughter Madeline, beautiful, barefooted, wearing a simple blue shift that accented her dark chocolate skin and small, uplifted breasts, answered the door. I was so taken by this lovely girl that I stumbled over my well-rehearsed greeting.
“My mama's not here,” she said, “she's in Nassau, visiting.”
“Well, I wanted to talk to someone about her husband's death.”
“He died in the rage last year,” she said without emotion. Inside the house I could see a young man--her boyfriend?--sprawled on the sofa in front of the TV. He was watching the NBA playoffs.
“His brother died the same day.”
“Really?” I knew this already.
“Yes.” She closed the white door behind her and looked down at the ground. I couldn't tell if she was saddened, or if simply the Pedicans had a familial habit of staring at the ground as Sam had when he started across Glass Window. “Daddy was just coming back over from Gregory Town that morning,” she continued, “where he went to get my uncle's casket, and when he was coming back over the bridge, the wave washed him into the ocean. They found him the next day and brought him back up here in a body bag.”
She quivered and her eyes suddenly welled with tears.
“I'm sorry,” I said, and touched her bare shoulder. She tolerated my hand briefly, until I realized I'd made a mistake and withdrew. Shifting the subject, I asked where her mother had been when Sam Pedican was killed.
“Moma been in Nassau then. She was sick in the hospital with stroke blood.” She wiped her tears with her finger and went on.
“I was there with her too, at the hospital, when my sister-in-law called and asked to speak to me. She said to me, 'Your papa gone down in the ocean. Your daddy gone. No more daddy.' Well, I had to be so brave because mama was so sick. I went into the bathroom and cried.”
I noticed again how beautiful she was, with her full lips and dark eyes, especially in this sad moment, crying in the hot shade under the afternoon sun.
“They found him naked by the rocks. The waves had tore all my daddy's clothes off him. And they brought him back here in a bag.”
I asked if she had any photographs of her father.
“Yes. Wait. I'll get them.”
She returned with a photo album opened to double pages of Sam Pedican lying in his casket. The images were ghastly: a swollen, barrel-chested man in a pin-stripped suit seemingly squeezed into the white silk lining of the body box, his hands folded just above his crotch, his eyes and mouth drawn tight toward the corners of his gray puffy face, his oval head covered with tight pills of white hair. The day he spent in the water had horribly disfigured him.
I asked where her father was buried and, half sickened by the heat and the sight of this lovely woman holding images of her starkly dead father, offered my condolences to Madeline Pedican and said good-bye. Following her directions, I drove past St. Paul's Anglican Church where Pedican's brother is buried, to the public cemetery at the end of the street where Sam reposes. Circled by a white cement wall waist high, the cemetery was overrun with dry weeds and vines. A pile of rubble stood beside an empty grave, freshly dug. Sam lay under a concrete slab near one corner.