Storms always brought me new stories.

Storms dancing from black skies, cut open by flashes of lightning.
Storms dancing from black skies, cut open by flashes of lightning.

I AM MESMERIZED by storms.

Always have been.

There’s one outside this morning.

Tornadoes dancing from black skies, or so I’m told.

Hard rains.

Stronger winds.

Often the winds blow the rain sideways and in sheets.

And we wait for the hail.

We dread the hail.

Above me, I hear the constant rumble of thunder sounding much like a marching section of kettle drums in the sky.

Sudden explosions.


And far.

Dynamite with a growl.

Lightning cuts ragged seams above the trees.

Constant flashes.

One can’t wait to end so another can begin.

Stark whites.

And pale yellows.

The thunder, they say, gets your attention.

The thunder rocks your house.

But it’s lightning that does the damage.

No sound.

Not even a crackle.

Not even a sizzle.

Lightning is the grim reaper of the sky.

Maybe I am mesmerized by storms because they conjure up memories of another time, back in the 1950s, when all of East Texas sought to escape their wrath in storm cellars, concrete shelters dug out in the backyard.

Tornadoes were raging that year.

We lived in a forest of oil derricks, and the derricks were at the mercy of the wind.

They stood tall.

And strong.

They were toothpicks in the wind.

Friends, families, and neighbors gathered in the shelters, lit by kerosene lanterns, which cast strange shadows upon concrete walls, and men sat back in old folding chairs, telling stories in the darkness.

Growing up when the farms were new.

Growing up when the roads were made of dirt.

Going to war and not quite sure where it was.

Going to war and never expecting to see home again.

Hard times.

Bad times.

Thank God for the good times.

No one ever spoke of falling in love.

But their wives were with them.

Their children were asleep on cots.

They had obviously fallen in love once upon a time.

But no one talked about it.

The storms were endless.

So were the stories.

These were the times I liked best.


And stories.

My world changed forever when I realized that books had stories inside.

They didn’t just have a bunch of assorted words scattered on a page.

They had real, genuine stories.

I didn’t know if they were true.

I didn’t care.

I no longer had to wait for storms to hear them.

I could read them.

And the library was full of them.

One day I would tell stories.

I tell them so I can hear them.

Once I do, they never leave me no matter how hard they try.

Book one of the Ambrose Lincoln series, Secrets of the Dead.


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  • Once you’re a reader, words have got you by the throat – and a lucky few have the need to contribute to that feeling for others.

    Lucky? Well, maybe not.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I still have a feeling of anticipation when the storms start coming. I know a new story is on its way. I’m lucky that way.

  • jack43

    I well remember the time I discovered books. It was a dark and stormy night… Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself…

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Jack, I’ve reached the point where most of my nights are dark and stormy.

    • Hahahaha.

  • Our childhood world definitely shapes us. Do you think you’d still be a writer if it weren’t for those storms? Probably. It’s embedded in your soul like the rest of us. Still, if times were different, imagine all the stories that wouldn’t be told. Thank God for the storms.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I think I’d be a writer, Sue, but the storms gave me a sense of emotion. I could feel the thunder and almost hear the lightning sizzle.

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