Christian Short Stories
By Web Ruble
Web writes: "Sometimes when I travel old routes of the United States' Pacific Northwest that I have traversed many times, I wax nostalgic and sometimes it is enough for memories to come back quite vividly."
It finally had happened.
Or, at least I thought it had.
You see I was a little groggy at the time and sort of day gazing. Almost napping. So, in my self-centered sinfulness, I can't be sure.
At first gasping notice, it would appear that the past came up to smack me in today's kisser during a mid-afternoon downpour.
'Twas a rainy day and I was driving my Chevy Aveo Grays Harbor-ward on the New (actually old) Kamilche. However, when I was but a pup yay those many years ago the road was known as the Kamilche Cutoff. Now folks refer to it simply as "the Kamilche" or (Washington) State Route 108, linking U.S. 101 near Shelton with McCleary on State Route 8.
In practical analysis, years ago it was a short cut -- a cutoff -- between Shelton and Elma, eliminating the necessity of Bremerton- born traffic going around through Olympia to access the highway to Elma and Aberdeen.
There is nothing particular about it. The bucolic route, with but few changes over 60 years, meanders peacefully through soggy, fogbound timber-and-pasture country, partly skirting sluggish Kamilche Creek. It is not spectacular; nor is it a fast route. Rather 'tis just a comfortable way of getting from Bremerton and Shelton area on Puget Sound down to Aberdeen on the coast.
Though I had traveled it many times, the route always seemed a peaceful cut through a mysterious redoubt. "Strange things could happen here," I often said to myself, because to me this cutoff seemed so oddly gray and remote -- kind of like a surface tunnel from Bali Hi to Shangri-la had they ever existed.
So on this particular September day in 2006 I was drifting along, vaguely minding my own business, when I began to realize I was casually searching for something. Through vague crackpot legend, I had heard -- and even partly believed -- that there were certain pockets in rainy western Washington that when you drove through them on stormy days, you could experience a time warp.
I had traveled to many ends of the state, plus Oregon, and contiguous fringes of northern California, expecting to see either at roadside, or along the road itself, something profoundly from the past. It had happened once, I think, but even though I was looking for it -- sometimes consciously and sometimes not -- it happened to me again in the many years since.
Until this day.
After so many years of foolish hoping and searching, I had almost given up. No biggy. Just a flirtation with the cosmic.
First came the aforementioned notion. Then -- within a few minutes of that -- it (gasp) happened.
'Twas raining. Visibility was poor. The two-lane road, seemed narrower. The car's windshield wipers looked a little different. So did the gear shift lever. Hmmm. I was getting dopey. Sleepy. Perhaps tired. I didn't know squat. It wasn't alarming, but I knew I had to find a wide spot and get off the road so I could doze or at least rest my eyes for a few minutes.
I tried to remember the road. But recent memory eluded me. Perhaps there was a wayside just around the next curve up ahead. But no. There wasn't. A few cars came by. But they didn't look modern -- as if belonging to this century. My eyes were dim. I could not see much. But through my warped vision, the on-coming cars looked like something out of the 1940s or 1950s.
I rounded another corner and there loomed a wayside on the south side of the road -- obviously to be used by traffic headed the other way, eastbound.
I crossed the center line and pulled into the wayside. Now the rain was a cascading downpour. I was desperately sleepy. I turned off the engine and dozed.
The hard-drumming rhythm of rain on the car's metallic roof soothed my savage beast, and aided my drift from a dreamy half existence to a dervish slumber. I kept waking as if being rocked by the seabeat of ocean waves to drifting to a foreign exotic shore. Back and forth like a yo yo.
At one point I felt chilly. I reached into the backseat and extracted an auto robe that I seldom used. I tucked myself into it and drifted off again. I awoke once more. The rain had eased somewhat and I could see out the front windshield and through a mist a miniature chalet-like sign post the Forest Service had once used to post messages to travelers such as don't toss matches or cigarettes, or next month in Olympia will be a hearing on the disposition of this property.
What? That jerked me wide awake. I threw off the robe and sat straight up.
Memory exploded into my cold bones. I was about 14 years old in 1948 when myself and me da and ma traveled this road to visit relatives in Bremerton. Our old 1937 beater had stalled and we had pulled off the road in hopes someone would see us and stop to help.
I don't remember how that event was resolved. But I remember the miniature chalet-like Forest Service sign post. It had finally happened! I had drifted into the past and was reliving part of it!
Now alert as a nocturnal owl, I threw the car into gear, turned around, and pulled back onto the road and sped toward Aberdeen.
After a few minutes, everything looked normal again. The cars, pickups and occasional odd vehicles were of ultra-modern vintage, as one would expect.
Now well alert, it wasn't long before I grated over the Wishkah Bridge into Aberdeen. Still rested but wondering.
I went back over that road several times in subsequent weeks, looking for that wayside, and signboard chalet. I couldn't find them. What's more, I couldn't find anything even remotely close.
Was I going nuts?
I called up my old friend, the Rev. Harold Saymire, to make arrangements for chats over morning coffee. I dropped by the First Presbyterian Church at about 10 a.m., the following Tuesday. Over steaming brimfulls, I told him my weird story. "No," he said. "That couldn't happen. Once things are over in Christ's world, they are over. We can't reclaim the past. And No -- you're not going nuts."
"Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you. Especially if you're exhausted and disoriented. Secretly -- even if you won't admit it - you were looking for that event 60 years earlier to reoccur and when you were so exhausted...well...know that all you have to do to stay mentally healthy is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
(© 2011 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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