She commuted 37 miles every day to Town and Country Ford in Oklahoma City. She started out in sales and worked her way up to finance officer. She had a good mind for business, knew what she wanted and how to get it. When the only Ford dealership in Guthrie closed down, she went to work on Fergie and convinced him that they ought to open one of their own. He was skeptical, but he came around. He liked Guthrie; liked the Old West feel of the place, the redbrick downtown (the Blue Belle Saloon and Restaurant, where Tom Mix, the cowboy star of early Hollywood, once tended bar; the corner of Oklahoma and Division, where a scene in Rain Man was filmed); liked the friendly way people accepted him and let him live his life. He joined the Rotary club, pinned down a couple of investors, got going on the paperwork. Assuming he got lucky this January, he and Mary Anne were going to call their business Hall of Fame Ford. So many plans they had.
It was on Sunday morning, Dec. 9, that Fergie got the word about Mary Anne. He was in Arizona on a two-month job coaching for the Sun City Rays in the Senior Professional Baseball Association, one week away from Christmas vacation. "There's been an accident at home," the clubhouse boy told Fergie when he arrived at the park. "You gotta get home as soon as possible."
He found her in intensive care in Memorial Hospital in Oklahoma City, heavily sedated, with tubes in her mouth, her nose, her arms (everywhere, it seemed that first shocking moment, except her ears). She had a broken neck, a broken clavicle, two broken ribs and a punctured lung. She was lucky to be alive.
Fergie leaned over the hospital bed, brushed his lips against her ears. "I'm here, Mary," he said. "I'm here, honey." And she started to cry. Fergie knew then that she was going to be O.K.
Route 33 west of Cimarron is not a bad road, not as bad as others. It runs straight and flat for miles through a lush landscape dotted with pumpjacks (only one in five in motion), grazing cattle and, here and there, a lonely spruce-ringed farmhouse. Two miles before 33 intersects with Route 74, 10 minutes from Lakeview Ranch, it makes a long, gentle bend to the right. Road conditions that Saturday night had been ideal—clear, dry, 57°. Mary Anne had driven this way hundreds of times before. It was her regular shortcut. She had to have known the curve was coming.
Her truck—a red 1991 Ford Explorer, a comp from the dealership—flipped three times before coming to rest in the gully beside the road. Mary Anne went through the windshield—sideways, probably, because two hours later, when the ambulance finally arrived and the attendants found her lying in the grass, her pretty face was unscarred and her body was hardly bruised.
Afterward, at the hospital, Fergie claimed Mary Anne's belongings: her trench coat, her handbag, her jewelry, nearly $500 in cash (she had been paid that morning), the dry cleaning (she had picked it up on the way home) and some Christmas boxes filled with sausage and cheese that Raymond was selling to raise money for his school. But what Fergie really wanted were her shoes, which no one found at the scene of the accident. He thought maybe she had been wearing high heels, and maybe her foot had slipped and somehow jammed the accelerator, and maybe that was why she had been driving 90 mph around that curve, the way the police said. He had to know; otherwise it made no sense. Back home he pulled out every pair of shoes in her closet. It was hopeless, of course. He never figured it out. And he never asked her to explain.
Fergie stayed by Mary Anne. Every day after he dropped Raymond off at school he drove straight to the hospital and sat with her through supper. Sometimes if he had chores to do he wouldn't arrive until midafternoon, but then he always stayed late. He was there at least seven hours every day, sometimes all night. The nurses never bothered him.
Mary Anne wore a metal halo that was so heavy she couldn't lift her head, so Fergie would prop her up in bed and fix the pillows. He would rub her back, her legs, her arms, her fingers. She complained of numbness in her left hand, and at first she couldn't move all her fingers. But as time went on, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that she was improving. Eventually she was taken off the respirator and was moved out of intensive care on the ninth floor and down to the seventh. She got so she could swing her feet down from her bed and touch the linoleum with her toes without getting dizzy. Raymond was still frightened; he was afraid to visit. But Fergie brought Samantha to the hospital, and Mary Anne held her in her arms.
Apart from Fergie, Mary Anne didn't get many regular visitors. The Jenkinses were new in Guthrie, comparatively speaking, and it was Fergie's way—an athlete's way, a farmer's way—not to lean on others in a time of emotional need. Folks watched him as he went about his business around town and never imagined how bad things suddenly had gotten.