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80 Years Ago

Archives 12-13-2000

North County Lines by Bob

An Award Winning Column

For comments or questions contact Bob at bobncl@hotmail.com




Strange visions frequently inhabit my dreams. What happened after I drifted off to sleep last night illustrates what I mean.

I was walking down a hall. A translucent angel floated beside me.

A door suddenly appeared. Pushing it open, the angel said, "Observe the scene closely."

A group of people were passing a baby around, tickling it, talking to it, trying to feed it, trying to make it respond. The baby was obviously dead. But for some unknown reason the people handling the infant didn't know or didn't want to accept the truth.

"Do you know who the child is?" the angel asked.

Walking over to the baby, I removed it from the hands of a bystander. I gently embraced the infant and placed the tiny body in a small coffin.

"This is my brother I never knew," I said. "He died long ago. I never had a chance to hug him and say goodbye until now."

Looking at the people standing around, I said, "This child is dead. Bury him on a shady hill overlooking a green valley, where he can rest until we meet in a better world."

The angel said, "Are you certain you'll see your brother again?"

"No doubt about it," I replied. "When my human form exhales its final breath, he'll be waiting for me on the other side, laughing and wanting to play. We'll run through the woods, climb trees, build forts, chase imaginary outlaws on imaginary horses. We'll fish side by side in rivers and oceans that flow beyond the horizon. We'll do all the things we never did together in this life."

The angel smiled and closed the door. "Time to move on."

We continued down the hall until another door appeared. Pushing it open, the angel said, "Observe the scene closely."

The walls were covered with images of flying bats and circling vultures and hissing serpents and lusting, grinning satyrs, some standing, some on all fours. Three women, dressed in black, with faces melting like hot candle wax, were hovered over a cauldron of a boiling, slimy green liquid.

As they stirred the mixture with large, twisted spoons, a swirling vapor of brimstone ascended from the cauldron. The thick, sulfur fog spun faster and faster until it was transformed into an enormous horned beast with razor-sharp claws and gnashing teeth.

I walked toward the beast. "Perhaps," said the angel, "being afraid and running the other way would be better."

"No one said I wasn't afraid," I replied. "But many years ago, when blood and death had me cornered, I learned an important lesson."

"What lesson?" the angel asked.

"You're an angel," I said. "You already know."

"Tell me anyway," the angel replied.

"When confronted by fear," I said, "be more dangerous than danger and the fear will disappear."

"A peculiar philosophy," the angel replied. I walked closer and closer toward the monster until it evaporated into nothingness. "It only sounds peculiar," I said, "until you discover it works."

The angel smiled and closed the door. "Time to move on."

We continued down the hall until another door appeared. Pushing it open, the angel said, "Observe the scene closely."

Giant, blue-eyed men wearing animal skins were seated at a table that appeared to stretch out forever. Some were drinking ale from large mugs. Some were shoving enormous portions of roasted venison into their mouths. Some were wiping their mouths with the back of fur sleeves.

Snarling dogs were gnawing bones tossed to the floor. Stout, robust maidens in diaphanous silks and satins were dancing in moonlight streaming through vast, open windows. A sea breeze blew heavily across the room and caressed my face.

"Do you know where we are?" the angel asked.

"In Valhalla," I replied, "the hall of valor, created by Odin for warriors who fought on when all odds were against them. These men are Vikings, Scandinavians, my ancestors. Their blood flows through me. They discovered and mapped the so-called New World 500 years before Columbus was born. I feel my father's presence. Is he among these men, feasting and drinking?"

"Why would he be?" the angel asked.

"When his time was up," I said, "he faced death without a whine or a whimper. He went out laughing and smiling. He died like a true warrior. He's one of the few heroes I've ever known."

"He's among these men," the angel said. "Do you want to see him, talk with him for a while?"

"Not now," I replied. "My sorrow over his passing is too deep. If I saw him and lost him again, it would be like giving me my heart back and ripping it out again."

The angel closed the door. "Time to move on."

We continued down the hall until another door appeared. Pushing it open, the angel said, "Observe the scene closely."

My temporal self was asleep in bed. "Time to return," the angel said.

"Not yet," I replied. "Stay with me a little longer."

The angel said, "Whether you're sleeping or awake, I'm always with you. Whether you see me or not, I'm beside you every step of the way."

"Thank you," I replied. The angel smiled and closed the door.


Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486

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