Tag Archives: thunder

Loud Noises and the Storm

A Pagan Day

Image via Wikipedia

The two German shepherds were usually on self-imposed duty protecting the children.  They lay by the door watching cars and people go by on the street.  Sometimes their ears would turn and focus on certain sounds.  If the sounds were benign or considered normal the ears would relax.  If the noises hinted of trouble the ears would swivel and face the location.  Then their low throaty growls would gradually get louder until the problem was resolved or I told them it was okay and they could relax.  I thought they were rough and tough and ready for any situation that arose.

There were exceptions to their tolerance to noise.  Although they had been trained to ignore gunshots while in protection mode they were never quite ready for fireworks and firecrackers.  The sudden splashes of light and sound, as well as their confusion when pops and bangs came from varying locations, startled them into jumping and running for cover.  They never learned to adjust to any fireworks whether the explosions were large or small.  When the first firecracker exploded on special occasions both dogs became nervous shaking puppies.

Thunderstorms were another source of noise that could not be avoided.  When one of those dazzling displays of lightning occurred with accompanying thunder, Rex and Cleo would crowd closer to me, content to have my hand pat them occasionally. When the thunder became too loud and took them out of their comfort zone, they would dash for the bed and squeeze underneath.

One night in the midst of a very loud and powerful storm the power went out.  It was already after ten so my wife and I hurriedly put the children to bed and retired for the night.  We lay in bed talking about the events of the day, the children, and things we needed to do tomorrow.

Lightning struck a tree outside splitting it in half, and the resulting boom shook the house.  At the same time our bed rose several inches.  My wife screamed and the children came running and piled on top.

She tried to slide off the bed to get everyone resettled.  As she turned to get up, a head met hers, made one big slurp and dived underneath the bed again.   She screamed even louder this time.

Thinking we were under attack by the elements I grabbed the children and headed for the basement.  Rex and Cleo chose this moment to escape the close quarters.  They jumped on the bed and knocked my wife to the floor.  She screamed again and then fainted.

I called Rex and Cleo and they slunk down the steps and hid.  I went to find my wife, concerned that she was badly injured.  She wasn’t in bed nor did I find her in the bedroom.  I didn’t know she was on the other side of the bed, on the floor, next to the wall.

I went from room to room, tripping over all the things left behind when the lights went out.  Ignoring the pain I continued to search.  The lights came back on.  The children returned and I ordered them back to bed.  The dogs returned and I ordered them back to their beds although they returned several times to see if I really meant for them to get out.

Everything was returning to normal but I had to find my wife.  Had she ventured out into the storm?  Was she injured or worse?  My mind was exploding with possibilities.   Despite my commands Rex and Cleo bounded past me and squeezed between the bed and the wall.  Unfortunately it was at that precise time that my wife awoke.   She screamed again.  The children came running, the dogs started giving her doggie kisses, and I thought she was injured for sure.

After the dogs and children were resituated I pulled my wife to her feet.  She looked at me crossly.  “Don’t you dare say anything,” she snapped.

I turned around and walked out onto the front porch. I studied the clear sky and took a deep breath of fresh air.  I tried not to smile but I couldn’t help it.

In a few moments my wife joined me.  “Aren’t you coming back to bed?”

“I’ll be there in a few moments.  The air is so clean and crisp after a storm and I want to enjoy it.”

She put her arm around me.  “”I want to hear your version of tonight’s events before I go to sleep.  I’ll bet it’s funny.”

“Honey, It wasn’t funny until I knew you were okay.  Then I grinned, that’s all.  It was a rough scary night.  One I’ll remember.”

She hugged me and went inside.  I knew things were going to be all right.

 

 

 

Sons of Thunder

The Sons of Thunder

 

There were early warning signs that violence was on the way.  The two boys were untamed, unfettered, and usually unsupervised.  Their mother had disappeared mysteriously, leaving her husband alone with three children. The father refused any help from the community, insisting that the family would work out their own problems.  Alicia, the beautiful eldest child, reportedly kept the house running smoothly.  She and the boys, James and John, were always clean, fed, and well dressed. Their father, known to drink a bit but not to excess, paid the bills and saved money. Although the father was gone frequently and sometimes for long periods of time there wasn’t anything specifically anyone could point a finger at, yet we all knew there was danger lurking behind the façade.

Alicia never went on dates, although at sixteen she caught the eye of every eligible male in the surrounding areas.  Frankly, they were afraid to ask her out.  Her dad made it a point to seek out prospective suitors and let them know their lives were in danger around his house or around his daughter.  Alicia meekly followed orders, kept the house immaculate, and maintained her straight A average in high school.

John, the middle child, had an explosive temper that occurred with increasing frequency. Often I would confront him in school about some infraction and his face would become contorted with rage.  His voice would shake and obscenities would pour out. Sometimes I asked him to walk around the schoolyard in an effort to cool his anger.  I would watch him pick up a stick, point it at me, and pretend to shoot.  Since I knew he hunted the fields around the school and around my house it was reason for concern.  I knew he would seethe for hours until his anger finally abated.  John was also very intelligent.  He did well in his school subjects and also stayed informed about world politics. He had great plans for his future but I worried about his bouts of anger and how that anger controlled him at times.

John and James were unwelcome in neighboring homes because of their destructive hunting forays and their penchant for breaking things just for fun.  One day they followed their dog down the road and into the driveway of a neighbor’s house.  The dog chased chickens while the boys whooped their support.  Finally the neighbor stepped out of his house.  “You boys go home. I don’t want anything killing my chickens.”  The boys didn’t listen.  Instead they entered the barn and began breaking windows while the dog continued his relentless pursuit of squawking chickens.  The neighbor stepped out of his house onto his front porch, holding a shot-gun.  “Please take your dog home.  He doesn’t belong here. You go home, too!”  “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.” 

The boys left, only to return a short time later with their dad.  He had two six shooters strapped to his sides, gunfighter style.  He confronted the neighbor.  “If you want to have a shoot-out, then let’s get to it.”  The neighbor backed down, uneasy about an altercation with a crazy man.  And so it went, from that moment the community shied away from any arguments with the dad.

The family business was another strange thing that was rarely discussed.  The dad made caskets.  The boys often bragged about their personal coffins, made from the finest materials and ready to be used. “You should see the polished wood and the blue silk.”  “When I die, dad will make mine even better,” the other replied.

James was known for his antics, his infectious smile, and his sudden angelic appearance.  He could be deeply in trouble and yet somehow escape unscathed.  Once, as a fifth grader, he had been caught peeping over a stall in the girl’s bathroom.  He received no punishment because he was so sorry it had ever happened.

One day in spring, after the fire at Christmas had burned the school totally, and we were in school at the church, a strange thing happened.  On this rare day James was sitting quietly in class trying to decipher the big words.  The teacher,  however, could not focus on the lesson.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “but there’s something that really stinks around here.”  She walked from chair to chair but to no avail.  She eventually walked to the closet.  “I think something died in there,” she announced to the class. She flung open the door and peered in, holding her nose.  The children’s coats were hung on pegs, waiting to be picked up.  The teacher went from coat to coat, sniffing and coughing.  She stopped at James’s coat.  “This coat stinks,” she said.  “What is the problem?”  James laughed.  “I slept with my dog in the bed last night,” he proclaimed.  “A skunk had sprayed it.  My dog was still scared so I hugged it all night.”

James was the center of the universe at times.  He could not read any words with more than four letters.  The principal proudly proclaimed he taught James to read.  Later, when James was discovered memorizing the lessons ahead, the principal was deflated and gave up.  He turned the task over to a young teacher who decided James was a worthy project.  For several weeks she toiled and James struggled onward. The reading project seemed a success until one day after school the woman turned her back on James.  He quickly closed the distance between them, reached around and cupped her breasts.  She was horrified and fled to the principal.  “What are you going to do about it?” she demanded angrily.  “You shouldn’t have been alone with him,” the principal snapped.  The conversation was over.  James and the reading lessons were over, but James continued on, oblivious to the fact that anything was wrong. 

In the eighth grade and in high school James proved to be outstanding in sports.  Grades were overlooked as long as James tried.  There were occasions when those in the stands were pleasantly surprised by his adroit moves and quickness.  There were also occasions when those same people were shocked by his ability to get confused.  When he got turned around he might run the wrong way in football or make the winning basket for the wrong team in basketball.  Yes, James was something of an enigma.

We didn’t hear much about Alicia after she graduated from high school.  The boys said she went to college but we didn’t know where.  And John?  He graduated from high school and drifted northward, working one job after another.  Later we heard he had been arrested in Seattle for armed robbery and would be locked away for awhile.  And James?  I had forgotten about James until one night at eleven o’clock I was awakened by the persistent ring of my phone.  I picked it up and was greeted by a familiar voice.  “Mr. Roberson, remember me?  This is James and I just called to thank you for all you did for me.  You didn’t give up and eventually you got me to reading.  I’m now a lumberjack in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  I volunteer at a local elementary school when I can.   I just wanted to thank you but I don’t want to keep you up.  Good-bye!”  And with that James was gone, but definitely not forgotten.  He was one of the more difficult students who had learning disabilities and social problems and somehow had managed to rise out of the murky depths. He had taken the next step and was reaching out to others and giving them a chance to succeed.  His persistence also woke me up.

 Sometimes I forgot that school was more than teaching subject matter.  It was about touching human lives.  I slept easier that night and for many nights to follow because I had made a difference in his life. James didn’t give me a chance to tell him, but he also had made a difference in how I perceived things.  I must have done something right, and to this day I still believe I can touch that invisible spirit, and bring it to a higher level.  Thanks, James, wherever you are, for giving me feedback.

 

By Dan Roberson  2/26/09