Sunday Evening Shadows…

Sunday we had a Rigatoni dinner with delicious sauce I had simmering for a couple of hours.  The entire apartment was in an Italian state-of-mind as the aroma of onions, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms filled the air.  The fragrance was heavenly to me or to anybody of Italian descent, I bet.  After eating one helping, and holding back on more because…

Steph had a Christmas Party to attend at the pastor’s home in a couple of hours and they were having Chili, I was also invited. Stephanie was so worried because she thought we were late…and we were.  

I could’ve sworn it didn’t begin until a half an hour later, at six, but I told her we’d be okay, “I’ll just drive backwards.  We’ll be there on time and besides you told me at first that you didn’t want to go,”

“I know, but I finished my homework.”

I took Steph into his home and was again asked to stay, but I went back into the darkness to learn my way around that area of Ozark (the city not the Ozark Mountains).  Many hills and blind intersections, but thankfully, not many turns   It is winter here too and the wind was whipping and howling, as the rain pelted the windshield of the car.  

I was unable to see much of anything.  The pastor’s house, though, was too crowded for me so there was no turning back. I made my way to the familiar highway and pulled into a wayside rest (not posted) but it was a driveway off the highway and only about a quarter mile down from my turnoff to get Steph.

The rain kept up while parked there and I realized that I’d seen too many spook shows because my phone’s battery went dead and I didn’t have a car charger. My mind started to wander…

A couple o’ hill folk (used to call them hillbillies) coming up to the car and rapping on the side widow – one on each side sure didn’t help with the anxious moments.  I mean, they probably don’t get much company out this-a-way.  Seeing a strange car parked at the end of their drive they had to investigate.

I cracked my window just enough to hear one another, “Are ya’ll lost,” he asked?

His friend or brother kept rapping on the other window waving for me to get out of the car and go with them to their house.  He eagerly pointed to the raingear he was holding and offering me to put on; maybe it was just some plastic cut from a roll.

That was enough for me.  I started the car and turned on the wipers – high speed – and said, “The car is running fine now so I’ll be on my way.  I have to pick up my daughter in Highlandville, just up the road a piece.”

I pulled out of their gravel drive with the house set way back yonder as the two guys – one carrying the load and the other standing there with a long machete type blade strapped to his leg that shone so plainly in the rearview mirror.  

I slam my foot down on the accelerator – driving off as fast as I could. I kept looking behind me, the sounds of the two guys chasing me, their eyes pits of black. I didn’t know my way back, and it was dark, with dead branches that towered over me. The black road blended with the night sky.  I drove blindly, still going straight but up and down with those two guys always behind me.

Then I saw a light up ahead. It must be the pastor’s house! With tires screeching and my ears ringing – bdonk – my right front sunk down and I don’t recall being that happy before. I remember that pothole at the end of the drive from when I dropped Steph off.  I’m at the right place and safe at last, safe at last; thank God Almighty – I’m safe at last.  

I pulled into the driveway.  When I looked back, the two guys were gone.  Was it merely a  hallucination?  Really, did I imagine the whole thing?  

I drove back to that spot the next day and saw this hill person sitting on a rock so I snapped his picture and I don’t think he cared…..


Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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