The clock displayed 1:29 AM in a soft blueish glow as we drove along returning from a night of alley catting about together in the nearby city. Bad weather forced us to call it a night and return home. Crowded between Dwayne and Doug in the Chevy 4x4's cab, I watched the windshield wipers sweeping back and forth. Rain steadily poured down making it hard for Dwayne to see as he navigated the road. Flashes lit up the dark night sky reminding us that lightning strikes were close at hand.
Approaching the old McCook school, a strange tension suddenly filled the cab of the truck. The conversations abruptly ceased without anyone realizing. An edgy feeling crept up my spine, alerting me to an unseen danger that something was terribly wrong. Each of us nervously peered about as we passed by a telephone pole at the side of the road. In a brief instant, I felt my hair rise up on my arms and neck as a charged feeling swept over me. And then it happened! With a blinding flash, a jagged bolt of lightning struck the large transformer hanging from the pole. Before my eyes could adapt, it flickered once again as a second flash of lightning blinded us. This time the transformer exploded, sending showers of sparks flying everywhere. Each of us cursed a profanity loudly. Dwayne growled, “Let’s get the hell out of here!” as he slammed the gas pedal to the floor. With our hair still standing on end, we accelerated at an insane speed while heavy rain hammered against the windshield. Turning my head, I could see the power transformer throwing sparks to the ground.
Racing through the sweeping curve by the old swamp, the truck managed to hold traction on the rain drenched road. As the static induced tension faded from the truck, Dwayne backed off the gas pedal and everyone breathed a sigh, breaking the silence with chatter. Each of us excitedly told of the eerie feeling prior to the strike.
It was without question, the most intense lighting strike I’d ever experienced. In the past I’d seen lightning strike a tree limb in the orchard, splitting the trunk in two as it burst into flame a mere 20 meters from the house, yet I hadn’t felt a static charge. Then there was the time my family ate lunch at the kitchen table during a storm. I witnessed the kitchen stove burst into flames as the results of lightning strike on the electric power lines. But never before had I felt the static charge from a pending strike, giving an indescribable feeling of tension. And to top it all off, the static charge made my long blonde hair look like a porcupine all puffed up. For a split second in the cab of the 4x4, the three of us had Afros of immense splendor!
For fun, here's a picture of me in my earlier days with long hippie hair. Think about all that hair standing up on end when the lighting strikes happened, then multiply that times three long haired guys sitting together inside a 4x4 cab. ;) Oh man, check out that crack in the wall just above my head... darned house was already falling down at that point. What a place!
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