MAERD DAB A
Wherever I was, it was hilly and rural and green. Maybe it was Scotland. I’ve never been to Scotland, but I’ve seen Highlander and Braveheart more than twice. And I do have Scottish blood, according to my mother. Wherever it was, I’d driven there in a car reminiscent of the “General Lee” from the “Dukes of Hazard.” Presumably, the muscle car, true to form, leapt from the continent (presumably the North American one) to the island (presumably the British one), since I don’t believe in airplanes, and since I’ve no recollection of how I found myself behind the wheel of said vehicle. The car belonged to my father. Or that’s what he’d led me to believe. Unless it’s what I’d led myself to believe. I stood (and presumably parked) outside of a massive, red bricked citadel atop a wide, curving ridge. The stronghold’s impossibly tall walls weaved over the length of the ridge like a colossal brick snake. My father rang my cell phone. If I took the call, I didn’t mention the car. Had I “borrowed” it without asking? I couldn’t tell you a thing about our conversation. Not a thing. Here’s hoping it was too boring to make note of. It was probably more awkward than boring, though. We’re both awkward. And creepy. Well, he’s creepy. Or, more creepy. No one’s ever called me creepy. Well, not to my face. It’s a fair bet Dad’s passed a few creepy traits on to me. But maybe I didn’t even answer his call. That would’ve made sense. Anyway, Dad doesn’t really figure into this whole thing. Well, maybe he does, but only figuratively. Meanwhile, tornadoes tore across the rolling, Scottish-like landscape. I sought shelter in the cavernous entrance hall of the brick citadel. (Do citadels have entrance halls? Well, this one did.) This prodigious hall boasted many windows, tall and wide—which made it less cavernous and more spacious, I suppose. Several people stood feet beyond the towering doors of the entrance hall. Why? Were they curious to feel and smell the looming storm? Were they fools, daredevils, or foolish daredevils? Others scurried down steps to safety deep in the citadel’s bowels. Were these others prudent, cowards, or prudent cowards? I tarried in the glassy entrance hall. This citadel, newly erected, served as some sort of school. The structure itself stood there to teach a lesson to all of existence. But as it is with all educational efforts, what is taught is not necessarily what is learned. I studied the few people inside the entrance hall with me as they watch the turbulent sky. An intense pulse of energy surged through me, but I was not frightened. (Nor had I been struck by lightning.) A squall, more sudden than most, swept up all of the people standing outside. I can hear the screams—even now—of a man and a woman who were pulled off their feet. (They’re feet went with them, too.) They were whisked away on their backs, soaring off with the trees that were ripped from their roots. What could I do? Nothing more than watch, remember, and recount. (Hencethus this recounting.) Every lofty window in the entrance hall burst. It was not unlike the climactic and final “There can be only one” moment in Highlander. And, just like in the cinematic moment so referenced, said windows all inexplicably burst multiple times. Then, like some famished giant starved for the innards of an orange, the winds peeled the roof free of the fortress. That’s right, the roof, as if the peel of an orange. Or a lemon. But not a cantaloupe. Or a watermelon. And right there, that’s when I woke. I was nearly completely, but not quite entirely consumed with or by terror. It was all so impossibly real. I threw off the covers and staggered to the door to check that it was locked. It was. I squinted through the peephole. No one was there. I checked the time. Three o’clock before dawn. I chain-locked my door. I felt so vulnerable, so defenseless. I didn’t even have a baseball bat. Must get my baseball bat, I thought. I needed to protect myself somehow. From something. I kneeled at my futon and prayed. Then I spread a thicker comforter across it. Now I had two comforters. I crawled beneath them and lost myself to sleep again.
6 August 1997ish