by The Butcher
There was a storm. . .
Picking up the pieces of your life
I’m going to digress for a moment today, and be an American. (Don’t y’all tell nobody!) There was a storm. It wasn’t the biggest storm there ever was, but it’ll do until one comes along. It hit Mayfleld, Kentucky exactly right, and it changed the lives of family and friends of fifty-seven citizens forever. It cause some people to reach for God, and some to reject Him. It left survivors picking up the pieces of their lives, their property, and families, and begin to think about rebuilding. That’s think about it. In the vacuum that a tornado leaves that’s about all you can do is think about it as you stare at the closed caskets, containing most of a lost friend, or family member.
Regulations imposed by those safe from the line of fire
I’ve seen this all before. In Austin, in Waco, and Killeen. Fort Hood. A sick man firing indiscriminately into a crowd at the University of Texas, A misogynist shooting ladies in the head at Luby’s Cafeteria as they gathered for lunch on Boss’s day, and saw a fire consume a church full of people (including children) because the Federal Law Enforcement didn’t have the training or patience to convince yet another madman to surrender and let the people out. And, let us not forget Fort Hood. Yet another madman, and the best among us reporting for duty at the gates of heaven, deprived of their weapons of their own defense by yet another useless regulation imposed by those safe from the line of fire.
Who you gonna call?
But a storm is different. Unlike a mass shooting or fire, there’s really no place to run, no place to hide. God can’t hear your prayers over the roar of wind, or the screams. A storm just is. You can’t kill a storm. You can only hunker down, and come out when it’s over to count the quick, and the dead. People don’t understand an F5 tornado if they’ve never seen one up close, and personal. I did. In Jarrell! An F5 tornado can rip up the asphalt from the street. It can skin a cow. It can atomize prescriptions in the houses, invading the very air, and harming first responders as they dig and search for survivors. And the power is unimaginable. I asked someone why there were no paved streets in an upscale neighborhood when helping with the rebuild in Jerrell and was informed that there were! The tornado fixed that! So, you see that thing coming . . . who you gonna call?
Half a man
So, there was a storm. Where I’d passed through town the day before, and stopped for a hamburger was only rubble. And the smell. I remembered that smell. Lake Charles, 1957, four hundred and sixteen souls called home. I was six years old. My dad took us down there because he had a contract to do roofs, and one Sunday he took us to see the aftermath of Hurricane Audrey. Nothing! A clean landscape with a lone barb wire fence snaking its was across a barren landscape. From the distance it appeared to have a trash bag hung up on it. As we got closer, it became apparent that it wasn’t trash, it was a man, or rather, a half a man. A body that had been slammed into the fence by the storm surge, taking everything from the waist down, and leaving the rest hanging there on the fence, with the crabs crawling in and out. A whole different idea of the food chain for the edification of a six year old boy from Shreveport who’s only exposure to violence was the natives chasing Johnny Weissmuller on a Saturday morning Tarzan movie.
And the smell. I can still remember it. The rotten, vinegar like smell permeating the entire atmosphere. You could feel it in your throat. It makes you thirsty. Combined with the humidity in South Louisiana, no air conditioning in the car, and the heat. It was enough to make the Devil want to go home to hell.
I grew up during the Eisenhower years. Back then we had a president. It had nothing to do with Eisenhower. It was the people. Back then we pledged allegiance to the flag each morning in school. The American flag! The President hung out in the White House, emerging now and again to say something “Presidential” or cuss the communists. TV was black and white and boring. Movies in the theaters were beginning to come out in CinemaScope, or wide screen if you will. They’d project it onto a curved screen. There were three projectors casting three segments of the picture to achieve the width, and you could actually see the lines of separation, but hell, it was in color! But not in Shreveport it wasn’t. We had to wait a bit for that. Until about the age of ten, I couldn’t actually remember seeing in color. Didn’t matter. Everything in Louisiana was earth tone anyway. Except the people. They was white, and black, or yankee, and I don’t know which minority was frowned upon more, black or yankee. I do know my dad would give a “Good day” to a black man on the way to work. He wouldn’t give the time of day to a Yankee.
God’s gonna want ‘em back!
But the respect for the President, America and God was universal. In the final analysis nothing would make the smell go away anyway. Then . . . There was another storm. Years later in a place called Mayfield, and for a brief period of time the country took a breath. Neighbor helped neighbor, people from the surrounding area brought food, and water. Bodies were buried, and roads were cleared. And The President came! President Joe Biden dropped in to survey the damage, lend a few words of comfort. Mayfield stood still, and listened. They joined the ranks of Austin and Waco, Killeen, Lake Charles, and Fort Hood. But The President was mindful of them, and no amount of political analysis could take those few brief moments from them. It was theirs forever. Forget about MAGA. Forget the midterm, who flies and who dies. Like so many others in a moment in time, the people of Mayfield just become Americans for just a little while. Try it. You’d be amazed. I found it in the ashes of Mount Carmel. In the words of Steve Jobs just before he died. Treasure the people God sends you because He’s gonna want ‘em back!
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