When the storms brought stories home.
April 29, 2015
I AM mesmerized by storms.
Always have been.
And during the past couple of months, we have been besieged with storms.
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.
Dynamite with a growl.
Lightning cuts ragged seams above the trees.
One can’t wait to end so another can begin.
And pale yellows.
The thunder, they say, gets your attention.
The thunder rocks your house.
But it’s lightning that does the damage.
Not even a crackle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Caleb Pirtle III is author of Little Lies.