Louisville Magazine

SEP 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.16 43 Unbroken He runs a little water in the tub before he picks up Spike by the sides of his shell. One hundred and thirty-five pounds is a lot of tortoise, but William Duncan's big arms, thickened over with gray hair, still take the weight just fine after some seven years lifting a member of the third-largest tortoise species alive. Spike barely fits, about an inch between the flared edge of his shell and the tub. Once he was the size of a golf ball. Pretty soon, Duncan knows, he won't be able to bathe him inside. But today water runs over the rocky geography of Spike's body. Duncan slides his hand across the living stone and sweeps veils of dirty water off the edge. He is clean. June 20 was so hot it hurt to talk about the weather even more than usual, so hot the outside world slowed down — everything except for the cold-blooded reptile, who crossed a baking plain of blacktop heated and happy, still sharp from his bath. His 60-year-old human companion followed him outside to the parking lot like he followed him everywhere. People think Duncan leads Spike on their long walks through downtown and NuLu — "Is that a turtle?" passersby say, or don't have to say — but most of the time, Spike goes where Spike wants. Wayside Christian Mission, the homeless shelter and recovery center on Jefferson Street, is his kingdom. He pa- trols the basement, the hallway, the elevator, even wanders into people's private rooms. Now Spike wanted to snack on grass in the juicy sun. He lifted himself over the curb and sat upon a patch of green. Duncan stood at the entrance of the parking lot, talking with a friend of his named Bill about something or another. Who could remember, after what happened? A deep-blue car glistening like a rare fish pulled into the lot. Duncan says he can't remember the make or model — it was a newer Chevy Cruze — but remembers the color, the bright- ness. He looked around for Spike but couldn't see him. "Hey!" he shouted. But the car didn't stop. It all happened before Duncan could even run the few steps over the Tic Tac box of a parking lot beside Wayside. e front left tire rolled up and over Spike's side at a sharp angle. If the driver — a Wayside volunteer — had stopped when she first ran over Spike, his shell might have protected him. But appar- ently unsure what had happened, she tried to back up. When that didn't work, she pulled forward again. Duncan says she dragged Spike about 10 feet. And then the car crashed down, the frame slamming Spike's shell. A sound like a firecracker exploding. Exploding in Duncan's stomach. He knocked on the window and the woman got out of the car. Duncan thinks she was crying, though this part of the story has gotten hazy. What he remembers, all he remembers, is Spike, trapped under the frame of the car, behind the wheel, busted open like a watermelon, his craggy legs lifting feebly. A vertical crack opened the left side of Spike's shell, just behind his front leg. A tiny river delta of blood escaped him. Someone, maybe Bill, maybe a Wayside staffer named Dale, called the police. Dun- can looked for a jack to get the car off Spike but couldn't find one. Wayside residents gathered in the lot. Staffers at Wayside relayed the message to the president and CEO of the organiza- tion, Tim Moseley. He called his wife Nina, Spike's owner and the chief operations officer at Wayside, and she drove over in a rush and dropped down to the ground beside Spike. About a dozen officers showed up. One of them asked the woman who had hit Spike if she had a jack, and she said that she didn't know. She tried to open her trunk, fumbling with the button, but couldn't get it to pop. Finally, an officer realized that her car was still in gear, stuck it in park and got the trunk open. ere was a jack inside. Officer Shaun Sargent catapulted the car up with the jack. Sweat rolled off him. "How does someone run over a tor- toise?" he thought. Around him people spoke gravely into cell phones, others holding their mouths in their hands. e car was smashing the life out of their friend in front of them. Sargent worked as if it were a person trapped under there. When he got the car off Spike, the sound of shell popping from the change in pressure cannoned through Duncan's ears. Spike's legs kicked back and forth, faster now. e crack on his left side like a door left ajar on a nightmare, nothing but blood and meat beyond. A big gash cut across the top of his shell, a thin window to internal organs. Spike was shattered, shards of his shell crumbling into his wound. It looked like someone had dropped an axe wedge on the center of his shell. No, it looked like he'd been run over by a car. "is is the end of Spike," Duncan thought. Moseley looked up from the bleeding ruin of the friend she'd known for nearly his whole life of 13 years. His legs lift- Spike the tortoise helped put William Duncan's life back together at the Wayside Christian Mission homeless shelter. On June 20, Spike got run over by a car. Now he's the one who needs healing. By Dylon Jones Photos by Mickie Winters

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