Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nightmare On Route 66

by steven masone

It was a typical hot sweltering Georgia summer day. As I drove my recently purchased
old Ford truck down the winding driveway, I felt that relaxing calm come over me as I felt coming home every day to my new country ranch style abode. It was my little slice of heaven with it’s own stocked catfish and bass lake. It reminded me how happy I was to have left the fast lane of California by accepting a Pastor position here in West Georgia.

As my cell phone rang, I saw my daughter’s number appear on my screen and I knew in my spirit something was amiss. Hello? “Daddy!” she cried in that urgent tone I knew so well,“ Daddy, I need money to move right now!” “ I am so scared daddy, you won’t believe this!” After I slowed and calmed her down, I realized my perfect world just came to an end. My daughter had moved into a new apartment in Sacramento and didn't take my advice to check out the neighborhood at night.

I warned her to look for drug dealing and traffic that one cannot tell in daytime if gangs are prevalent. So now, I find out that a gang member lived right next door to her and he shot holes right into my grandson’s bedroom while trying to shoot his own girlfriend. Of course it was my decision to see my world change because I did not have the money to get her moved, it was a no brain-er that I would get to her aid as soon as possible. She heard the gang member yelling and screaming at his girlfriend and saw him shooting. She called the police and was now a witness against him. She had received threats not to testify in court, or else!

One never knows when life can change dramatically and so very suddenly. Exhaling a big sigh... I took one last panoramic view of my secluded four acres of solitude, where the beautiful lake drank it’s fill from an effervescent underground spring, gurgling up from the deep, making all the trees and indigenous foliage… a lush green paradise. I packed all that would fit in my used Ford truck and resigned myself to being prepared for a coast to coast road trip as fast as I could go. I looked out the rear-view mirror one last time, saying goodbye to my gigantic fig tree that just now was almost ripe with it’s delicious sugary fruit, and the tasty catfish my own private lake generously offered up to the wiggling worms dug from the rich red Georgia clay.

It wasn't more than one hour across the Alabama state line, when third gear began
making an ugly noise. I could tell it was going to be a problem. So instead of the middle route that would take me over higher mountains, I detoured to the southern historic old Route 66.

By the time I got twenty miles into Tennessee, I realized this was the worst maintained stretch of highway I had ever driven on. After about fifty miles later, the pot holes and cracked broken up asphalt was taking a toll on my poor suspension system. Then just when I thought nothing else could go wrong, my right rear tire blew out and I wrestled the truck out of a wild out-of-control spin. Then I found out the spare was rotted and useless, I bought a new one nearby and raced back into my nightmare.
The worst part began as the storm clouds seemingly formed out of nowhere, I felt a panic grip my heart as for a moment I went blind, I thought, but then I saw it was the downpour from the cloudburst that came out of nowhere.

A sinking feeling rose up as I remembered I had not checked to see if the windshield wipers
worked. They barely worked at all but soon that point was moot. Golf ball size hailstones began crashing into my vehicle with a deafening roar. I could hardly see nor hear a thing. I did the only thing now I thought would do any good, I prayed! Afraid to try and pull off for fear of a vehicle behind me smashing into my rear, I felt a moment of relief when the hail and rain suddenly stopped… and then I saw the twister.

As a very young boy I had seen a tornado when my family and I lived in Lubbock Texas. We saw it in the distance and even though we were going down into the safety of a storm cellar, it was a fearsome sight. I was later told it was a level three with level five being the worst. The one I now stared at, praying as I have never prayed before, was at least a level four! And it was headed right towards me.

It seemed like an hour, but it was only a moment when at the last minute, my nightmare turned right, and the road turned left. Shaken, but ever so thankful, I realized both second and third gear had gone out. First and fifth gear were the only ones that worked. Zooming through Arkansas, while I began to cross the mountains of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, It was metaphorically downhill all the way as I finally limped my Ford truck into my daughters apartment knowing absolutely, that whatever trouble was waiting for me there, I could just laugh at it…and I did. I will never forget Route 66.

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