Wonder had him in its grip and worked him over, tossing him into past years as clean as a pistol shot. More than half a century flipped through his movie mind, stopping whenever he wanted, at whatever spot and breaking loose the sounds, the smells, the fingers touching, the skin knowing again, rocking him with total recall. He saw again the older woman who paraded nude behind a window, who finally beckoned when he was on the way to school one day, calling him on to manhood, and to silence and war, and to the eternal draw.
Two days ago there were still those who went about saying that Peter was a false Tsar, perhaps the Anti-Christ himself. But then, just as the hour of three was being struck, two long, thin clouds joined in the form of a cross above our village. It was a Friday according to the new reckoning. Marina, the serf girl, was the first to see it. She fell to her knees and crossed herself, then ran to tell the priest, my father. If he was drunk, as usual, he was nevertheless quick to realize how he could use this “sign”. Were the rumblings of those who opposed the Tsar to go unchecked, the soldiers would soon be set upon our village to leave behind the smoldering remains of peasant huts and bodies swaying from scaffolds. So I was ordered to toll the bell which summons the peasants to the village square where my father put them on their knees in witness to this miracle. Such a voice he had!
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.
This Story is Dedicated to the Memory of Buster Dunlap
It was the summer of 1974, after I got out of high school. We were getting the machinery ready for harvest, and my dad was always in a hurry when it came to the process. Get the grain cut as soon as it was ripe, get it in the bin or hauled to town, out of the field, out of harm’s way before the wind or hail, wiped out an entire year’s work.
Every other year my children, Martin, Malcolm, and Harriet, and my seven or however many there may be grandchildren, vacation at our family home outside of Palmyra, Virginia in Fluvanna County.
The rental car’s radio faded to static right as the interview started to get interesting. Of course, Nadine thought. The way inspiration had eluded her lately, she would expect nothing less.
It just sort of came out.
They were sitting on the couch. Dave was watching and laughing at a screwball comedy where, during their honeymoon, the hero and his wife get their signals crossed. She winds up in Bermuda at a four-star hotel while he finds himself with the Inuit eating muskox somewhere near Greenland. Somehow, they reunite.