A silent lifesaver
There has been a murder. Last night someone’s house got robbed. There was another case of human trafficking. Politicians are going after each other and the President of the United States is under attack.
Well, really, we are all under attack.
This is a mean ol’ world we are living in, a place where violent crimes are commonplace and one where we almost expect there to be another active shooter somewhere everyday. We are become desensitized to it all, I think. All of it can be quite overwhelming.
That is why when we hear of acts of random kindness or people going above and beyond, it warms our hearts. Things that days ago were once considered normal life are now kinda rare.
To me, they are important. They show us that good people still exist and the world is not void of kindness. When I hear about them I like to share.
For example, there was a massive effort over the last week to help a family. Their need was not ordinary. They didn’t need money, or a job, or a ride to Dallas. All they needed was, their dog.
You can read about that story and how it unfolded on Page 1 of this issue. It is one of those stories that shows that there are still people out there willing to make the world a better place.
Then there are stories that can’t be told when they first happen. They can only be told after the hero of the story has left us.
Such is the case of my story about Chilli Childers.
Chilli was my buddy almost from day one here at the Tribune. It didn’t take me long to learn that he might not be well liked by everybody around, and he might have been a little rough around the edges sometimes, but we were instant friends. He did things for me, and I did things for him, because that is what friends do.
Well, here is the story of how Chilli likely saved my life, and quite possibly the life of my family.
As a journalist looking to do something big, looking to make the world a better place, and get that elusive “scoop” that would knock the socks off of everybody that read it, I was foolish.
In the early days of my return to the Tribune, a story idea surfaced, and I jumped on it. Six months later, the story had taken me places that were a tad scary and I had notes that contained names of some scary people. This was the story that was going to make me a star, I thought, but in fact it was the story that was likely going to get me killed.
There were threats made, ominous phone calls, and even a message left on my car. It had started getting pretty serious.
I was never really sure how my buddy Chilli came to find out I was working on this story. But he did, and one day he texted me and asked to meet me in town. I went to see him thinking maybe he needed to run some ads or had a story he wanted me to work on, but when I got there he was very somber. Not his usual self.
He wasted no time and immediately began to tell me I needed to stop my investigating, stop working on the story, and cease all communication with my “guy on the inside” of what I was working on. He told me the threats were very real and not to be ignored. He also told me that if I would promise to stop what I was doing and never print what I had, he could promise me the threats would go away.
Chilli could be pretty persuasive and I could tell that he was serious. And I knew that I had to do what he said, and I did.
It was not until a couple of years later that I found out that Chilli had likely saved my life that day. For that, I will forever be grateful.
Michael “Chilli” Childers left us this past week after being sick for a while. He left family that loved him, and I know that sting. I spoke with his daughter, Amanda, after the service on Sunday. There really are no good words to say to someone who has just lost their daddy. The almost cliché words ring so empty in the ears of someone who is experiencing that kind of pain.
But, I told her I would tell her how her daddy once saved my life. And now I have.
Maybe the moral of the story is that there is still good in the world but sometimes the story can’t be told until later. I don’t know. I just know Chilli was a good man, and I will miss him.