Elby Rogers: Tornado Valley
Fiction » July 2000

Tornadoes brought us together. An ecru sky spun down silk monsters that would have made even Dorothy Gale piss her knickers! Love is a strange thing... Father never understood the expediency of running away from a twister...especially when you're caught on open ground with a 4 by 4 vehicle not ten feet away from you. He is not a son of the plains, that's for sure.

Everything was strange that day. It was like looking through a blurred lens. We had taken our golden retriever for a little joy ride. She was a city dog, so we wanted to give her a chance to frolic in the land of Hanalei before old age or disease claimed her doggy soul. Yes, dogs have souls. Don't let the holy rollers fool you. If anyone or anything is soulless it's that lot! Hannah, our Golden, had brought love back into a house that had forgotten the word love. I'm telling it to you like it is...was...or ever shall be forever and ever, world without end, amen.

We were still very much islands of love, but we would meet in the center of our animal's affection. It occurs to me now that maybe love does kill. The crone - our neighborhood spinster. She had sprayed some kind of poison on her flora, which made my fauna very sick. I had wanted to kill the bitch! Well, believe it or not, about six months later she died of an obscure disease. She turned yellow and croaked. The world is strange too: yellow witches, spinning clouds, love without love.

Even religion had ceased to be a common ground for us. I had traded in my bible black for a more liberal philosophy. So, there we were - a tired triumvirate. It was a mystical day: little lambs bleating, our dog frolicking, a Charlie Brown sky. It was at that moment that "love came to town"in the form of killer cyclones. He was a badass Eros bent on ripping apart butterflies and jump-starting emotions. One minute it was a summer idyll, the next it was wind and Wuthering. Mom had scooped up Hannah and was making a bee line for the car. Dad was transfixed by the surreal sight unfolding before him. It was as if ropes of black spaghetti were destroying the world. It was more akin to a Fifties horror movie than real life. Dear papa is and always will be a realist.

His son the surrealist was quite prepared to except the concrete reality of tornadoes! The dramatis personae - Eros, a temperamental Greek god, Hannah, a friendly golden retriever, Ephram, father of Heathcliff (Don't even go there!), Charlotte, wife of Ephram and mother of...well, you know. In ancient times I would have told him to move his bag of bones, but I was having what the poets call an epiphany. I told him I loved him. I also told mother. This was his inspiration for flight. Mom and Hannah were already ensconced in the 4 by 4. Dad and I made a mad dash for the car before heaven could swallow the newly reborn extroverts.

Was the sky magic that day? Probably not, but as soon as we were off for greener pastures (at 70 miles an hour) a blue sky and sun were revealed. The rain and dark had been my companions for so long, but I was beginning to see the light. You know?

Elby Rogers lives and works in New Castle, Delaware. He writes for the Discover Tribune and has just started "testing the waters," writing short pieces of fiction. When not wordsmithing, he plays guitar for Urban Sprawl, a Delaware-based rock band. Check out their CD, "Beyond The Bridges" at www.urbansprawlband.com, due for release sometime this month.

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