Monday, February 25, 2013

The Truth Will Set You Free. Or Will It?

The moment I heard the train coming, I knew I was in deep shit. You can't grow up in this part of Texas without experiencing tornadoes. In fact, my first memory in life centered around a tornado. I was only a year old when it happened, yet I clearly remember bits and pieces of that dreadful day. The tornado siren was wailing and the dark clouds were literally boiling overhead. My mother had me in her arms and she was running to a neighbor's yard to join the other women and children who were already safe in the storm cellar. We lived next door to  Barbara Sue and her mother was the self-appointed neighborhood tornado watch. Barbara Sue's mother was yelling for all the neighbors to run to the cellar. I remember my mother being scared which made me scared, so I was crying as I was carried  into the safety of the cellar.  Since it was the middle of the day, all the men were at work except for Roy, an elderly gentleman who had no children of his own. Roy mistook my cries  of fear for cries of  hunger and in hope of ending my crying, offered to get me a snack from his house across the street. All the woman begged Roy to stay in the cellar, but he would have none of it. He was going to be the man who was in charge of the neighborhood women. Several of the women stood outside and held the cellar door open so they could keep watch over Roy in his mission of mercy.  Just as Roy stepped off his porch with a small, red apple grasped firmly in his hand, a funnel dropped from the menacing cloud and touched down just yards from Roy. The women began screaming at Roy to run for his life. Roy reached the cellar just in time to slam the cellar door and grab the rope to anchor it shut as the freight train passed overhead. When the tornado had passed, Roy proudly walked down the steps to put the apple in my tiny hands. I never hear a tornado siren without thinking of Roy.

But this time there wasn't a tornado siren. The twister caught the town by surprise. Once I heard the freight train, I knew I had to get out of my trailer park. To say that trailers are tornado magnets would be an understatement. Cooter had left home earlier in the pickup truck, so my only means of escape was in Cooter's '47 Willys Jeep which he had converted into his hunting vehicle. Genevieve was the name he gave to his precious Willys Jeep. Although Genevieve was his pride and joy,  he never got a roof for her because Cooter claimed that he liked all his women topless. But I didn't have a choice. Top or no top, I had to get out of that trailer park.

It had already started raining so I grabbed a plastic WalMart bag and pulled it over my head as I jumped into Genevieve. I had gotten no further than the exit of the Shangri-La-La-La Trailer Park when the hail started. Neither Genevieve nor I needed more dents in our bodies, so we hauled ass down the dirt road looking for cover. We finally found shelter at the Washed in the Blood of the Lamb Church. I steered Genevieve under the awning which covered the old gasoline self-service area of the converted convenience store. Those neon crosses covering the old gas pumps were like beacons in the night guiding us to safety. The hail was pelting the old plastic awning so hard that I couldn't hear the sound of the freight train. When the baseball sized hail stones started falling and the plastic awning started breaking, I crawled under Genevieve for safety. It was at that very moment that the freight train arrived. I held on to Genevieve for dear life as the noise level became unbearable. I started praying to be saved when one of the neon crosses was ripped from the gas pump and flew through the air. Then just as suddenly as it had started, it was over. 

When I crawled out from underneath Genevieve, all I could think about was finding Cooter.  I had to make sure he was alive and well. I had no idea where to look for him, but decided that The Rack 'n Roll Pool Hall was a good place to start. Genevieve and I slowly made our way down the street weaving around uprooted trees and downed power lines. My heart was pounding fast as I got close to the pool hall and saw a smashed pickup truck  lying greasy side up on the sidewalk in front of the pool hall. Then I saw my dog, Buster, limping around the truck. It was then that I realized that the crumpled piece of metal was my truck. I jumped out of Genevieve and ran to the truck to see if Cooter was trapped inside. I couldn't breathe until I saw the truck was empty. I walked around the truck to verify that it was mine. I was sure it was mine when I saw the bumper sticker.

Don't drink and drive...
You might hit a
bump & spill some.

I picked up Buster and held him in my arms. He was so scared that he was shaking like he was trying to shit a peach seed. I put Buster in Genevieve to calm down while I headed into the pool hall.

I was relieved to see that the pool hall was in relatively good shape. There was broken glass and debris laying everywhere and, oddly enough, an old, pink icebox was sitting in the middle of the room, but the pool hall was intact. My eyes were trying to see through the dust hanging in the air when I saw Buck and Ethyl standing by a pool table in the corner with their heads hung as though in prayer. I felt as though my heart had stopped beating as I approached the pool table and saw the giant, neon cross from Washed in the Blood of the Lamb Church laying on top of a person. All I could see were fingertips and the toes of a pair of cowboy boots. My knees buckled. I looked at Buck and Ethyl.


"No. Bobby Lee."

A flood of relief washed over me followed by an intense feeling of guilt. Cooter wasn't crushed under the cross, but the man who was under the cross had been the object of my recent revenge. I approached the pool table.

"Bobby Lee, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I shouldn't have run to Barbara Sue to tell her what happened. I'm so sorry I threw you out of the truck. I shouldn't have gone with you to the football field in the first place. But if you will come back, Bobby Lee, if you will come back...I will go back to the football field with you. Please come back, Bobby Lee."

"Will you put out this time?"

I almost peed my pants when Bobby Lee spoke and the cross started to move.

"You sorry son-of-a-bitch!"

I turned on my heels to storm out of the pool hall when Buck stopped me. He put his arm around me and spoke in a fatherly tone.

"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

When Buck said those words, I realized that he knew what I had done. I was humiliated and scared. I started crying and heading toward the door while Ethyl started questioning Buck.

"Buck, did you just make that up?"

"No. Confucius made that up."

"How do you know that, Buck?  I don't ever remember studying Confucius at Ima Hogg High School."

"I know more than you could ever possibly imagine, Ethyl."

"Did you read that in Reader's Digest, Buck?"

I had almost reached the front door when I heard a noise that made my heart stand still.


"Get back in here."

I froze. It was Cooter's voice. I hadn't seen Cooter.  I turned around and saw him getting up from his sitting position on the floor in the corner.  I ran to him and helped him up.

"Oh, my gosh! Are you okay, honey? Are you hurt?"

"Not physically."

It was then that I realized that Cooter had heard my conversation with Bobby Lee.

"Come on, Cooter. Let me take you home. I have Genevieve outside."

"No. I want us to stay here and make sure Bobby Lee is alright. We were having a real interesting conversation right before the tornado hit. If he feels up to it, I would like for him to finish his story." 

"Cooter, you have been through a real traumatic experience. I think you probably need a drink and a nap. Let's go."

"A drink sounds like a good idea. Hey, Buck, if a bottle of Wild Turkey survived that big blow, pour us all a shot. Hell, pour Bobby Lee two."  

Cooter started picking up overturned bar stools and setting them upright at the bar as Buck lined up the shot glasses.

"Baby, why don't you call Barbara Sue and have her get over here. She needs to see Bobby Lee before we get that cross off of him. She might find some humor in all of this."

Cooter handed me his cell phone as he sat on a stool, patted the stool next to him and knocked back a shot of Wild Turkey.

"C'mon, baby. Come sit down and tell me your side of the story. Just don't make the mistake of making me wonder if it's fact or fiction."


Indigo threatened me if I skipped a day on my story entry, but it's like this, Blue Man...
there was this big bucket of ice cold beer and big tray of spicy, steaming mud bugs that came between me and my computer. You understand, right? Do you have crawfish in the UK? One of the benefits of living in the South.

So here I am catching up once again. What a surprise. Would anyone be shocked to know that I'm not good at deadlines? Oh, well. I'm determined to catch up on all my comments tonight. You are not really expecting that though, are you?

If you haven't been following the saga of Cheesy Mike's friends, Cooter and the gang, you need to do so. When you get through reading, go over to We Work For Cheese and read today's stories from the other participants of 30-2 Days of Writing. You won't be sorry.


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