I’ve always believed in signs. Always.
One of the first things I remember from growing up was the old Dairy Queen sign down on Highway 12. I know that’s not the sign you’re thinking of, but still I say it’s important for what you want to know.
We used to go to to that Dairy Queen when daddy was still around. It was near the pond, so there was always plenty of mosquitos in the summer. Daddy would buy us all Dilly Bars or Buster Bars and we’d sit in the car and eat them up. Wasn’t enough space to do anything inside, where it was air-conditioned. It was one of the old ones: Barely enough space to put in your order. Pretty soon, Daddy would start swatting and swearing. Swatting and swearing! That’s what I remember most other than the sign. I’d just be staring at that sign. It was in the shape of an ice-cream cone and had those old letters. It was white and kinda twinkled at you, like the stars something from outer space or whatnot. I think that sign had been there when my daddy and momma were young. Just glowing there, with the bulbs on it. And the bugs flying around the bulbs. I loved it, but daddy was too uncomfortable so we’d have to go home after a while.
Daddy died back in — ’90, I think it was. It was cancer, just like with every other person around here back then. Just after, the Huddelstons shut the Dairy Queen, sold the building, and moved away. That highway bypass was hard on them — real hard.
I think that Dairy Queen became a yarn store. They left the sign, but painted it over in red — just with rollers and brushes. It was like a barn door — a really weird-shaped barn door. Said “YARN” on it in big letters. I was sad when I saw that. Though yarn is good.
I finished up high school and momma talked about sending me off to college, but I just never was much of a college person, you know? I don’t know what I am: Just a person, I guess. So I stayed and helped momma around the house with cousin Tom and his ventilator and got my job at Earl’s Chevron that summer. They weren’t paying me much, but I didn’t need much. Just enough to help momma and have some fun now and again — pay for gas in my truck.
I kept all my old friends. Justin was the only one who moved off. I think he went to Tulsa. Never came back, neither. I don’t know what became of him. And Katie died, of course. That was sad. She was such a pretty girl. Drunk driver, they said it was. Everyone was crying at her funeral down at First Baptist. I can’t say that I really liked her that much. That would be lying. I mean, why make things up just because she’s gone? I mean, you understand, right? I thought so.
So you asked me about the signs, and I was going to talk about the signs — before I distracted myself.
I think it was about six or seven at night back then. I was parked down at the pond at the old lot they had there — the dirt lot, you know? And it was getting dark. I don’t want to tell you what I was doing there, if that’s ok. I mean, I was just relaxing. So, I notice after a while that things are getting light outside, really light outside. But everything was really still: Like just before a tornado. Pretty soon, it’s light as day — maybe even brighter. I looked around and got out of the truck. I still — to this day — don’t know why I did that. But I did.
And there — up in the sky — that’s where I seen it. We didn’t have cell phones or anything like that back then. Not like we do now. Otherwise I might have taken a picture. Or maybe not. All I can tell you is that any pictures I’ve seen don’t look like it at all.
So I guess I passed out or something. They say I fainted, but I just don’t faint. I think it was something else. I saw some things I can’t describe to you. Not because I think it would get me or anyone else in trouble: I just can’t describe them. Crazy things.
When I came to, I got up and looked around. And everything’s, you know, different. It’s like, wow: Where did all this come from? Everything had changed.
That’s why when you asked me about signs, I thought of that thing I seen in the sky–which most people would call the actual event. I think it was just a sign for what was really happening. It wasn’t that thing that brought all the changes. It was just like an announcement that everything was going to change. You know, like in the Bible: the angels ain’t God or Jesus. They’re just telling you . . .
Wait, just a second. I gotta handle this. Another craft coming in. Just gotta give him clearance. These Târgn’nak heavy-haulers got a few extra steps I got to do. Looks like this guy is hauling more Zortanium ore. That’s what they’re using to decontaminate the river over in Cherokee County. Gonna need a lot more of it, for sure. Ok, here — Craft 7H56-2 from Tau Ceti e, cleared for landing at port Baker Four. That’s port Baker Four. Welcome to Terraport One. K’ch’nåk, and have a good visit, y’all!
I like to be hospitable. Doesn’t hurt none. They’ve come a long way.
So, we were talking about signs . . .