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The making of a hero

It was a heartwarming story that could have had such a different ending. The anchor for the early evening broadcast beamed into the camera. “She was a surgeon in India, accustomed to saving people’s lives. Now she lives in Burnaby. He was a handyman who moved from Agassiz to Vancouver for a better life. Now he’s the hero. Let’s hear directly from Aksel Hansen, the man of the hour.”


            “I was standing on the platform with my headphones on. I was listening to Ripper, a Michael Slade thriller about an American feminist whose mutilated body is found in Vancouver. The killer was a psychopath who enjoyed murdering his victims.”


            The anchor flinched and then replastered a smile on her face.


            Aksel continued his narrative. “As I said, I was listening to my headphones and minding my own business when I felt something hit my chest. It was a woman’s purse. That really got my attention. I pulled off my headphones.


            “I heard screams. The woman who had thrown the purse at me was on the tracks. I knew she was in danger of being hit by a train. I crouched down and told her to take my hand. But she couldn’t reach it.


            “I grabbed the first thing I could find – a scarf from the top of her bag – and lowered it down to her. She caught hold of it with both hands, looped it around one wrist and placed both hands above the loop. Then she sucked in her breath and put her feet against the platform wall. She prayed. Tears sprung from her eyes as she climbed upward.


            “I could feel the tendons along my shoulder blades popping. I lift weights every day and I can clean and jerk over three hundred pounds. This woman is small, but it was very hard to lift her because I was lifting straight up. It was a deadlift and I wasn’t sure if I could do it.”


            The anchor interjected. “You’re on the edge of the platform. You hear a train coming in, and it’s taking all your willpower to help this woman. What a story!”


            Aksel nods modestly. “Yes, I was exhausted. But I knew time was running out when I heard the sound of brakes screeching against the rails. I was terrified that I might not be on time to rescue the woman. I guess you could say that the surge of adrenaline I felt when I heard the training entering the station gave me added energy. I tugged one final time on the scarf and managed to pull the woman up onto the platform. I never knew I had it in me to be a hero. Now I know.”


            The paramedic who treated the victim at the scene of the accident was interviewed. “Mr. Hansen truly is a hero. With only seconds to spare, he had the presence of mind to take immediate action. Thanks to his quick thinking, Jeannie Johal is alive today.”

           It was only later that the police determined that it was Aksel who pushed Jeannie onto the tracks.

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