FLASHBACK FRIDAY: DOOMSDAY # 1
In 1968, I experienced “Doomsday #1”. I’ve found it practical to enumerate the “Doomsdays” occurring in my lifetime because, in Cuthbert, there was always a Doomsday lurking just over the horizon.
Even at the age of 6, I could recognize the arrival of a Doomsday. It could be heard in the hushed tones of grown-up conversations. It could be heard in gossip—half-whispered—by adults when they wished to avoid detection by puerile pinnae; the type of articulations abounding with spelled words; a tactic designed to cloud children’s comprehension of these covert conversations. Did I mention that by the age of 6 I had already become an excellent speller? Well, I had. My younger brother and sister relied upon me to interpret these conversations; many times, from the back seat of our parents’ vehicles.
News of Doomsday #1 arrived on the wings of eagerly whispered, awe imbued rumors. According to the prodigious dispatch, a miraculous sign had appeared in a small country church in a place called Wayback. At that time, I had no idea where or what a Wayback was. Was it hamlet, home, or hearth? I later learned that Wayback was a community in northern Calhoun County and Southern Randolph County. In other words, “its way back in the country”!
So, we loaded up the old family station wagon and headed down to Wayback to lay eyes upon this wonder ourselves. The night was not just dark; it was country dark! Country dark is ten times darker than regular dark. The reason that country dark is so dark is because there are no streetlights or lights from buildings, businesses, or houses to penetrate the thick darkness that envelopes the “country” when the sun goes down. The road we traveled wound like a twisted, black ribbon through a narrow corridor of sinister looking trees which hung like a dark canopy over the narrow strip of asphalt and gravel. After what seemed like an eternity, a single, miniscule, white light twinkled through the trees. Finally, after a thousand quickening beats of my heart, I could see that the light was coming from beneath a green, industrial-styled, lampshade attached to the front of a small, white wood-framed church. We were there!
We pulled up to the church, piled out of the station wagon, and joined a small group of people gathered outside the little church. The adults in the group and some of the more intuitive children stood and stared, transfixed by the sight in front of them. Through the glass, a light shined. The light—contorted by the bumpy, semi-opaque window glass—assumed the shape of a cross, when viewed from certain angles. Upon seeing this “miracle”, my heart beat even faster. A feeling of dread descended slowly and ominously upon me and then wrapped its paralyzing heaviness around my small frame like a cold wet blanket, for I’d heard many times in Sunday school that during the “end times”, there would be miraculous “signs”. The cross in the window pane of the little church in the woods certainly seemed to be one of those “signs”. Somewhere, deep in the blackened forest, Badb shrieked.
Over the course of the next few days, the sense of dread which blanketed me that day, gradually diminished as I slowly realized that the Doomsday predicted by the “cross” in the window was a no-show. However, many times since that day, several questions have haunted me (i.e., What if the world really did end and we’re already in hell? How straight does the crow really fly? And, last but certainly not least, who let the damn dogs out?)