I can still hear the deep throaty sound of the cam on his Granddaddy’s flathead V8 truck, as he ripped through the dusty roads of Featherbed Hollow; one of the roads that led to me, that steamy summer.
I stood in the doorway, moving my hips slowly to the electric hum of cicada, while Billie Holiday’s ‘The Man I Love’ softly whispered from the back kitchen; in the late August heat of an unforgiving sun.
The only witness to a breeze, was the stir of hazy dust floating above the cotton fields.
Featherbed Hollow came to be known in namesake, for its soft and cool down feather beds inside Rose’s Ice House, down in the town valley; my Grandmother Ada, told me.
They call me Tabitha Ruby. My Grandmother says I am at the age between ‘Flowers and Honey’; still innocent and doe eyed but grown into my dresses, in such a way, that make men think of sweet thoughts.
My awareness for discovering things and respecting the true sensual nature of all that comes to us, started very early with me.
My Daddy owned Falcon County’s largest strip coal mine, called Electric Blackbird.
My Daddy, Michael was a large and respected figure of a man. He attracted fortune and the love of my beautiful Mother, Isabelle Iris and other ladies, best not spoken of, the admiration of the townsfolk with his integrity and Southern gentlemen ways.
He also attracted trouble, like the kind that comes in the back door, like a thief, robbing you of everything precious and taking your last breath out with him, quick as lightning.
My Daddy found his last breath, heroically, saving men from the Blackbird 44 mine when a shaft ceiling collapsed upon him and a fire ignited from the coal dust.
The explosion was so powerful, it could be felt in the next County of Silver Seam.
I was 13 years of age when he died. Isabelle was so distraught that Ada would set out with me to pick my Mother’s favorite wildflowers and collect honey to bring back to my heartbroken Mother. I don’t think the orange blossom honey was ever sweet enough and the flowers, one day, just did not make her smile anymore.
That October, my Mother went to a picture show in town, with her best linen dress with the silk lavender ribbon and tiny white flowers.
She never came back…
Ada said my Mother ran off with the ‘travelin’ circus to ease my mind. She knew how fascinated I was with circus folks and that one particular tattooed, strong man with the tall top hat and dark patch over his eye. He always winked at me with his good eye. He looked upon me as if he wanted to tell me secrets; things I suspect I shouldn’t hear.
Somehow, thinking my dear Mother had run off with him, the Magicians and Ladies of the night, did not evoke warm feelings in my tummy, like Ada had intended.
I have grown considerably through the seasons and I suppose this story is really about my 22nd summer of life, in sleepy, Featherbed Hollow; and the mysterious desire behind Drake and myself.
Our town was a place where everyone had a gift they shared with each other. Long hazy days and nights were lived where men worked the crop fields, animals, mines, forests and taught the children discipline and special things.
The women folk of our town took great pride were spirited and nurturing in all their deeds and loving; keeping the internal pattern of Family, fine tuned and enriched with special care. Always instructing the children to be the ‘Seers of their Dreams’.
Dusk was the special time that, where all of the townsfolk would end daily chores to assemble on big porches, men with their finest pipes and stories and slow conversation.
Women gently fanning their sugar, glistening skin as they sipped on lime iced teas, watermelon sugar waters, gently laughing and smiling towards the stars; as children capture lightning bugs in fat jelly jars.
11:00 PM, every night was known as the 137th moment. All of the town knew to offer up one special thought from something that had happened that day. We would focus upon the thought secretly, holding it with deep intention and blessing.
As we aged, we became very skilled and powerful at being ‘Dream Seers’, for the good of all.
My Grandma, Ada taught me these gifts as a girl. She called me her ‘dancer in the doorway’ because I was a dreamer naturally and did my best thinking standing and swaying in the doorway that overlooked the fields, town and valley from our old two story home.
I must speak of the mystery and desire behind Drake and myself that strange summer where the heat was as sticky as taffy and the nights where only cool, when a storm rolled in.
The town that summer, spent many hours in the shadows, apple cellars, spidered church basements, cellars and creeks.
I took my walks that summer at dusk, with bare feet, to feel the cool clay dust like sugared powder kept in the ice box.
One evening I could see the dust rising in the distance behind his truck, as it rumbled and shook from every pot hole in that forest road in our Hollow.
I had never seen this truck before and was certainly from the 1940’s. He slowly approached as I kept walking toward the tree line. We locked our gaze upon each other like we had never seen another human being.
I remember I had never seen eyes like his, on a man before. Eyes like a predator hawk, fierce and powerful. I felt tingly and thought he could see right through my summer dress down to my soul.
His smile was slow and strangely cautious; hair wildly combed by wind or storm, it was sure hard to tell; bleached on the edges by an eternal sun.
Those few moments of recognition, seemed like we had always known about the specialness within each other; it was some powerful force that resided between desire and sweetness.
A desire, that made me feel weak and sad for the moments that would come without him, being replaced with a longing so deep and unknown, it frightened me…
I knew then, all that dancing in the doorway, was just watching and waiting for him to come to me.
I told him my name; because he asked. I asked him where he was going this cool evening.
‘I ride around the back forest roads to cool down and it helps me think and clear my head’ Drake replied-
This man looked so cool and calm I figured he had been driving like this for a week or more.
He asked what I was doing alone, out here by the forest…my reply was similar.
‘I always walk these back roads; I love to look at the trees at dusk, the way they look like dark velvet silhouettes and I do a bit of thinking myself. I live in the Hollow past the old Graveyard going into Featherbed.
He smiled like he understood and said- ‘Get in if you like, we can ride it out together back here on these roads, I think a storm is coming anyway’.
We talked as if we understood each others thoughts before they were spoken. The moon was low, like a fat hanging fruit that glowed in the sky. In the spaces of silence I could feel his masculine energy, the scent of some dark, purple flowers that had sat too long in the sun, the scent of sweet hay from the fields and the watermelon scent of cold creek water.
I felt dizzy with excitement when he touched my hand and asked if I was cold in my dress, he could roll up the windows…
I told him I was pretty warm and would love a dip in the creek. I don’t think a man could have stopped a moving flathead ford any quicker than at this moment.
He came around and opened the creaky, heavy door, saying his Granddad needed to work on the truck some. I really do not think he was thinking much about that truck being worked on…
We walked barefoot in the cool creek water, feeling the slimy mud and rock between our toes. It made me giggle some, creek water always does.
He told me more stories of where he came from and his Daddy was a miner in Silver Seam. He knew the story of my Father and said that was the worst explosion around these parts.
We talked for hours looking at the stars, laughing and teasing each other like children do.
When we had spoken all the words that could be heard, it was silence that found our desire. He pulled me up into his arms and we made our way running through soft moonlit grass to O’Hanlon’s barn where he wasted no time in finding my secrets.
His kiss was warm and perfectly forceful. Touching, we found each other and moved in rhythm on the soft hay mound until we had pressed our bodies all the way to the ground beneath…
That summer was special to us both, as we traversed every back road together; stopping often, to find passion under the sun, storm and moonlight, in every creek, cemetery, barn, abandoned house and doorway that we could find and hide in.
That summer I had many sweet thoughts to hold in good intention and blessing, for the good of all; It came from the truest place.
The place of pure energy and love, the place we come from in the beginning…
Written by – Tommie Flannery Baskis (c.) 2019 Duskflyer Vision Art & Productions