Would you mind if we have a talk?
Sherman Road fed into a state highway with four lanes. At the point of intersection there was a curve in the highway so as to conceal any approaching vehicle as it rounded the bend until it was right upon the meeting point of the two roads. Lois gave a half glimpse to her right as she sped past the stop sign and drove right out into the four-lane highway. The passengers in the car could hear the sound of the tires go from the gravel road to the smooth sound of state asphalt. The cloud of red dust was left behind. An “S.U.V,” a Ford Bronco, came suddenly into Lois’s field of vision on her right as it rounded the curve. She saw the blur of motion in her peripheral vision and instinctively, her foot hit the brake causing the little car to skid to a stop. With the sudden stopping of the car the red cloud of dust that had been trailing behind it all the way down Sherman Road preceded and caught up with it, enveloping it as it sat idle in the highway. This was not the right thing to do because had she continued driving the whole incident would have simply been a near miss that they would talk about for days after, but by stopping Lois had set her small automobile up to be broad sided on June’s side by the much larger, and heavier vehicle. June looked right at the approaching Bronco and saw the vehicle bear down on her. She knew that at the speed it was traveling, the collision would be deadly. She was amazed that she felt no fear. The size and speed of the oncoming vehicle made it so final that there was little left to do, so she just sat there and waited for what seemed like an eternity. It seemed as if time slowed for her but in reality she didn’t have time to take a last breath before the bumper touched the side of the Mazda.
As June waited for the sound of crunching metal that she knew she would surely hear, the strangest thing happened. The Bronco stopped; it just stopped! Frozen in a moment in time! No screaming tires, no crunching metal, not anything! One second it was coming at her and in the very next second it was sitting there as if it were parked. June looked out of her window and could observe the bumper actually touching the door of the car, but not so much as to even move the red dust still clinging from the trip down Sherman Road. She looked up at the people in the Bronco. The driver’s eyes were wide, as were his wife’s, and she could see that they had two children in the back, without their seat belts on, peering between the seats. They looked like very realistic dolls. June considered very seriously that she was dead. Perfectly amazed, she turned to tell Crystal about it, but noticed that she was frozen also, as was Lois. Lois was looking straight ahead, but Crystal was staring wide- eyed at the Bronco. Every one in the car except June was frozen in the same way as the people in the Bronco! The fear in Crystal’s eyes was very clear, and June could see the reflection of the colliding vehicle in her eyes. She was beginning to “cross” herself, but had only made the very first motion of the sign of the cross. June leaned forward and looked directly into Lois’ eyes. As she moved her hand in front of them she could tell that the reflection was there, but that neither she, nor Crystal could see anything! Yet there were still alive. Their skin was pliable. They were warm. She touched them and they were not stiff, or
hard. It was as if time were a series of freeze frames of existence and that the world had been paused between two of these frames and all had just stopped. All but June! She looked down at little Mike. He was smiling and looking up at her. From his position, he could not see what was about to happen. She moved her hand in front of his eyes, and like her friends in the front seat, while she could see the reflection of it in his eyes she could tell that he could not actually see her at this time. Then, her eyes followed up to the driver’s side window. To her surprise there was a tall thin man standing beside the car peering in at her. He was wearing a white tuxedo. He was a rather pleasant looking fellow. He had dark hair, with a clean shave. His eyes twinkled and he was smiling.
“Hello, June,” he said. Would you mind if we have a talk?”
She felt a warm rush run the entire length and breadth of her body. This man was alive and moving, and could talk and see her. He didn’t seem to be alarmed at all that everyone was frozen. He acted like he was on his way to a ball or something.
She stared at him. She was rarely at a loss for words but this was one of the times that she couldn’t speak. “Hello,” he repeated. “I’ve been waiting a long time for you, June. You might say I’ve been waiting here for you all of your life. Is that little Mike?”
“Yes! What’s going on?” She forced the words out.
“A lot is going on. I’ve been put here at this intersection to do a job. How I do that job depends on you and I.”
She turned back and looked at the S.U.V. “Why did it stop?”
“Oh, it’ll start again, give it time. We only have a little time before it does. In my years here at this intersection I’ve figured out a few tricks, but I can’t sustain this one for very long. That’s why you and I have to talk. The impact will be terrible, and lots of people will die, but what happens, and who dies during that impact will depend on what you do.”
He opened the door, and reaching inside he helped June out of the car.
“Oh, wait, I have to get Mike!”
“No, he’ll be alright. He’ll come out of that car, but how he does it will depend on you. If some people have their way he’ll come out of that back seat dead! But I’ve been doing some thinking here at this old crossroads for the last twenty years. I think there is another option. He has to stay for now, but you have to come with me. We have a bit of traveling to do.” He leaned over to help her out and as he did his hand brushed the child, causing a rash of sparks which made him pull back. He reached in once more, this time being careful not to touch the boy.
“Why did that happen?” she asked.
“He is protected. I can’t touch him. The wreck was supposed to happen and I was here to witness it, and make sure everything went according to plan.”
“And that plan was?”
“We’ll get into that later. How much do you know about time and space?”
“I don’t know very much. I’m not very educated.”
“That doesn’t matter. You don’t have to understand it. I’ll explain what you need to know. For now just understand that there are some who can manipulate time and space, and will do it to achieve their purpose. But I have learned a bit, too, and I can manipulate a few things myself. For instance using your connection with the earthly to permit me to move freely around the spiritual.”
Just then, she noticed that her usual jeans and shirt had been changed and she was wearing a long white gown. Her hair had been restored to its original length before she cut it. It was as if she had a new body.
“Why am I dressed like this?”
“The same reason I’m dressed like this. You and I don’t make these choices. I was put here to wait for you a long time ago. I’ve been standing on this road for twenty years. I was standing here before you were born, and I was here before your son was born. There are plans and schemes in this world, and the people that plan and scheme want you, and your son dead. You and I are going to try to avoid that.”
“Why do they want us dead? Why do they want my son dead?”
“Because of whom he is. He’s not supposed to be, you know? He is a threat to someone very powerful, and very evil. He is afraid of your son. Your son is a dangerous young man. The circumstances of his birth hid him for a while, but in the time-space consortium he was revealed and now we have to move fast if he is to live and do what he is supposed to do. Moving back and forth in time and space has given the effects you have seen. Actually, you’ve been here before, if you understand these things, but you see it as only once. Why do you think you made that unusual statement you made just before the crash?”
“About teaching angels how to fly?”
“I don’t know, but I know I needed to say it. It was as if I were expecting the crash. I knew it was going to happen.”
“Indeed you did. That June knew, but you do not. When I am done with you then you will understand why you said that.”
June looked back at her son, still frozen in the car. “Why can’t I just take him out?”
The man looked at her, “June, the universe is a system of balance. It is a system of checks and balances. One of you will come out of that car, but not both. Someone very powerful, very skilled has placed us all here, and getting around what he has done is going to take a bit of planning. There must be a sacrifice today. You and I are going to work that out.”
The man walked around the small car and approached the Bronco. He looked at the man and the family inside.
“He’s a minister you know.” He said this as if June were somehow supposed to know it.
“No, I didn’t know. I don’t know the man.” She was still looking around, amazed at the world ground to a halt around her. In the distance she could see another approaching car, it too, frozen on the highway. Above her were birds, frozen in flight. Even a small bug on the ground was sitting there, not scurrying away from her but just staring out at the world through frozen bug eyes.
The man continued to talk, “He’s going to die, and see that little girl in back; she’s going to die, too.”
“Why?” June asked.
The man grinned, “God’s will. It’s their time. He’s been heading for this intersection all his life.
Everything he has ever done is focused on this intersection. See, this thing we call life is a very complicated affair. We are all tangled up with each other in it. You’ve been heading for this crossroads, he’s been heading here, and I’ve been waiting here for the whole bunch of you.”
“What about his family. I mean, what about the lady, and the child that lives?”
“She’ll marry again; move on. She brings her drinking problem out into the open after he dies and she’ll blame it on this wreck, but actually it’s been there all along. You see she’s been living a lie.” He crossed his arms across his chest when he said this and looked at June. The look in his eye told her that his last statement was intended especially for her.
June looked away from his gaze as he continued, “Just like a lot of people do.”
This stung a bit. “You mean me, don’t you?” she asked.
“I could be. But you are special.”
He began to walk back around to the driver’s side of the car that June had come from, “I don’t know. I just know you are. We all have an essence about us, some more profound than others. Your essence is very profound.” He leaned over and looked into the car at the little boy. “He’s special. There are people who want this little boy to grow up very much. And there are people who don’t want him to grow up.
Like I said, what do you know about time and space?”
“And like I told you, I know nothing about that stuff.”
“Well, let me give you a heads up. On this side, the eternal side, things are ‘as one,’ if you can understand that. If someone makes a plan and the situation changes that same someone can undo the plan, or alter it as if it were the same all the time. I was placed here because it was found after my death that someone pivotal would come along. The person was supposed to be a certain person, but due to an accident of conception it turned out completely different. So, instead of going on like a good ghost, I was put here to wait for that person to come down this road on this day, and make sure that the person did not survive this intersection. My death was a normal car crash at first, but due to this information the person placed me here for the time it took for you to come along with little Mike in the car.”
“He placed you back here? Why?”
“Because some land was sold a very long time ago. Because the man that sold the land is a sort of Witch Doctor, who is very old, and if there is ever a male heir born in his direct line then he has to progress; move on; die. All these years he’s made very sure that that didn’t happen, but now little Mike has put a stone in his plans. Did you think you were born at Rio Casa by some accident?”
“Yes, the place you know as the Bend. That’s the land that we’re talking about. After my wreck, my sister went to that area and started that subdivision, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Just understand that I want you and your son to win this fight. If I gave you a certain choice right now you’d make the wrong one. I have to ‘school’ you a bit. Within you, June, there is a great spirit, but it’s never been allowed to grow. I’m going to try to help you grow that spirit, but we don’t have much time. Soon the shaman will come, and he’s not going to be very pleased when he finds us gone! He never thought that would happen. He will try to find us, but before he does I have to show you some things, and you have to tell me some things, and then we will come back to this intersection and continue.”
“Am I dead?”
“No, you are not dead. Actually, you’re more alive now than you’ve ever been in your entire life. Your very life force is the reason I can take you from here even if it’s just for a little while. You’ve come down to this point you are at right now, but there is a bit more than just you at stake here now, though you are pivotal to this situation.” The man looked back at the baby. In his eyes, June could see a great deal of love. Then he reached out and put his thumbs over her eyes. He pressed hard, hurting her, but when he took them away, and the blur dissipated she began to see a scene before her similar to a holographic image. It was as real as she was, and three- dimensional. Turning and glancing behind her, she saw that the Memphis scene was still there, and that this new image was a projection of a reality from another location. She saw Claudette pulling her car out into an intersection just outside of the Bend in Texas. Mike, and his older stepbrother, wife, and their baby girl were in the car with them. June knew that they must have been heading home from the store to finish Christmas dinner. Claudette was forever forgetting something at the store on Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter and having to rush off to pick something up. The image was alive and moving. She noted that they still had full motion, unlike the scene in Memphis, and she could even hear their conversation as if there were a great, cosmic set of speakers installed somewhere in the sky.
“Did you talk long with her before she left,” Claudette asked.
“A little. The Doc is real mad about her even coming here. Dad called and said that the Doc had dumped all her things on his porch when he found out I was down here. She’s gonna be hard put to find a bed to sleep in tonight.”
The older woman looked with disgust at her son. “The Catter will find a place to sleep, rest assured!”
“I think she wants to come back to the Bend. She even talked with me about it the night before she left. I can’t see her ever coming back here.”
Claudette was fully aware of the conversation that she herself had had with June during her visit, irrespective of any “agreements” that had passed between June and Mike in the bedroom. The agreement between her and her daughter in law had been understood, and that was the only one that mattered! There was really no other reason to renew the real estate license unless she planned to use it and she couldn’t very well use a Texas real estate license in Tennessee. June knew what she was going to do and the two had agreed upon this course of action. The broker decided to educate her son. “Mike,” she said, “you heard what she said at breakfast. You know the deal. She wants to come home, and if you’d checked you’d have seen that June’s clothes are still in the closet of the room you two slept in. Didn’t you check?”
He turned and looked surprised. “You’d let her live in your house? I thought you were just being nice. You’d let that slut come into your house after all she’s done?”
His mother turned and told him, “She made one mistake Mike. And if you’d been a man she’d not have made that mistake. Of all of us here June is probably the only person who deserves to be in the Bend!”
“I won’t come back mother! I’ll stay in Tennessee. I can’t live here if she’s here. You know that.”
She laughed. “You’ll come back. Five minutes after June the Cat hits town you’ll be here. Don’t even try to be cool! I’ll cut you off without a cent. Let your ‘Real Da Da’ support you for a while! You’ll be back.” She looked in her rear view mirror, “Buddy, you ok with that?”
The young man sitting in the rear seat next to the lovely Mexican girl said, “Yeah, mom, whatever you want. I just want this mess to clear up and let’s go on.” He patted his wife’s hand and she smiled at him.
The car pulled through a green light at the intersection of the freeway and the access road. At that moment the daughter in law screamed, “Oh, my God!”
Claudette looked up to see a car rushing off the freeway coming directly toward the car. Then, she was frozen in time. The whole scene stopped. All the occupants of the car froze. Time froze. All eyes in the car were staring at the oncoming car, knowing the crash was unavoidable. Now the scene was just like the one on Memphis. There were two crashes, two identical sets of circumstances occurring at precisely the same time!
June winced and turned her face away from the scene before her, and the man in the tux put his arms around her shoulders and began to walk her away back toward the Mazda. She looked behind her for one last peek, but the image was now gone and then, in a moment of time, she was in an area she could only describe as “nothingness.” Blue above her; blue below her; blue all around her. The scene from Memphis was beginning to fade. She felt slightly numbed. It was almost as if she were not in her body, yet she was. Then the area around her began to glow, and become white.
“Are they going to die?” June asked, glancing back at the fading Memphis scene.
“On what you decide.”
She shook her head and stared blankly, “I really don’t understand.”
“You will, in time. You see, they won’t live if you live. I see it in your eyes, June. Right now that’s a simple choice because you are a survivor. My job is to take that instinct out of you. To do that we have to take a journey. There are a few rules on the trip we are about to take. One, you are not the same as your physical body. You have left that body. We exist on different planes. You share the same soul as your body, but it is more as if it is the same essence. You, June, are not the same as that June in the car, but you are one, and I can use that connection to do what we need to do. I’m leaving her in that car for the time being in case our friend comes along. He’s going to be very upset when he finds you alive, but I need to buy time to make you understand what’s at stake here, and understand what you need to do.” She turned and for a moment she saw the Mazda still suspended in time and for the first time saw that in fact “June” was still sitting in the rear seat staring at the impending crash.
“Hey, this is really weird, ok,” she said. “Is that me, or is this me?”
“You are you. Don’t try to understand it. Let’s do it this way. We’ll give you a different name here. You’ll be Veronica, ok?”
“Yes, Veronica. Whenever we discuss here,” he pointed to June in the car, “we’ll call her June, but between you and I, you will be Veronica.”
“Any particular reason for that name, or is it just an idea of yours?”
“I have my reasons. You’ll come to know them in time.”
“So I’m Veronica.”
“Yes, and that over there,” he pointed to the Mazda, “is June.”
“Ok, I’m Veronica.”
“Yes. Now, are you ready for a trip? I want you to tell me your story, and I will show you just why your son must survive this crash. You ready?”
“Sure, you first.”
He extended his arm to her, “Care to go dancing?” As she watched in amazement, the “nothingness” began to form a scene around her. Then she was back to a few years before, in another place, another time. She had been transformed in the spirit back to her youth. She and her spirit guide walked into the dance hall unseen by anyone. She could see herself sitting at a table across the hall.
The Butcher Shop