These were more than echoes, the soft sounds I was hearing from the rear of the barn sitting back from Route 182 in Franklin, Maine, half a dozen fat pigs to one side, corn as deep as Iowa on the other side, and the terrain across the road flush with blueberry bushes until a slow rise tipped the landscape in its favor… and in mine. In my son Tim’s favor, too. He lives by this barn. Perhaps I had lived waiting for its sassy voices.
Fear has seeped into my sixty-year-old bones. Dread is my shadow and accompanies my every step. Terror has hollowed me out, emptied me, leaving me broken and brittle.
The last time Christine-Ann Corbin wore a dress was two months ago when she turned twelve. Her parents had a small birthday party and celebrated with a few friends and neighbors. The conversation quickly turned to the unrest in Europe.
Rags, her son Greg’s dog, was a mutt who came home one day with her 12-year-old son, probably after being lost or dropped off by some callous owner and most likely hungry and attracted to Greg’s demeanor, soft voice, gentle hands, and a whistler, and that for much of his days when permissible.
For history and legend sakes, certain attributes, character traits if you will, have to be appointed here at the beginning of This old house (B. 1742), home for more than half a century of my life, and This old room, dressed with computer by me for the last 28 years. Yet I swear thick-cut Edgeworth pipe tobacco bears its welcome as strong as my grandfather’s creaking chair, diminutive Johnny Igoe’s chair. This most memorable compartment was also his room for 20 years of literate cheer, storied good will, the pleasantries of expansive noun and excitable verb, and his ever-lingering poems, each one a repeated resonance, a victory of sound and meaning and the magic of words. Yet be of stout spirit, for the chair mocks time only in the clutch of darkness thick as the eternal void, and the tobacco’s no longer threatening in its gulp.
When I was seven the world blew up.
I was in the depths of a nightmare when my mother, tears streaming down her face and her voice raspy like torn cardboard, shook me awake and dragged me from bed. I was in the air before I knew what was happening, my favorite friend Fitzy hanging from my frightened grip as we bounded down the stairs and headed out the back door.
It is horrendous out here! like God’s troubling the waters. I’m by my lonesome in my eight-foot Jon boat with my ancient, three-horsepower motor. I don’t have time to worry before the storm’s crushing me. I have handled rough water on this lake before with the same setup. At worst I would just pull ashore anywhere I could and seek shelter until the storm passed. But not this time. The storm erupts so suddenly, the clouds overwhelm the sky so quickly and pervasively that my visibility drops from twenty miles to about three hundred feet – like God switched off the lights.