Hell (an excerpt from Dave Turner's ebook/audiobook Billy Ray's Chevrolet)

11. Hell

Two boys lay awake in a pop-up camper talking into the night. One closed his eyes and thought about the blackness, troubled by what he’d seen and heard that day. He’d come down out of the cove to spend the night with his friend whose parents were Bible-thumpers.

The boys had been discussing hell.

Chapter 11 – Hell, from Dave Turner's audio/ebook Billy Ray's Chevrolet and Other Writings and Photographs from a Southern Appalachian Valley

The troubled one often had frightening conversations like these with his friend, inspired by the friend’s parents, whose religious beliefs were based on fire, brimstone and the sermons they heard at the Swannanoa Freewill Baptist church.

“Have you ever burned yourself with a cigarette?” asked the friend. “Yes,” replied the troubled one, who’d stolen smokes before from his dad. The friend knew it.

“That’s what it’s like all over your body, forever and ever, in hell.”

The troubled one didn’t reply.

As the crickets chirped and the whippoorwill sang its night song, as the fear rose in him beneath the sleeping bag, the blackness behind his closed eyes became
a vision in his mind of burning flesh. The image seared into his consciousness.

Earlier in the evening the troubled one had joined his friend’s family for supper.

The mama had bought some cooking sherry and her boy giggled when he found out she had wine and said, “I’m calling Preacher.”

The daddy said to hush and said cooking with wine wasn’t like drinking it. The friend observed aloud that Jesus drank wine. Why can’t we? Because Preacher said they didn’t have Coca-Cola in the Bible times, said the daddy.

Then the daddy turned to the friend’s little brother, who was gulping down his glass of milk at the table. “Don’t nigger-lip your glass,” he said.

The troubled one sat quietly as he ate and sipped sweet tea self-consciously. He remembered the black kid from the Bronx who’d been his buddy at Camp Henry in Black Mountain, a buddy whom the troubled one felt he was betraying now with his silence.

Chapter 11 – Hell, from Dave Turner's audio/ebook Billy Ray's Chevrolet and Other Writings and Photographs from a Southern Appalachian Valley

Later, in the dark of night, the friend had fallen asleep in the comfort that Jesus was his personal savior. The troubled one opened his eyes and stared out the camper’s window at the lights of a passing car on the gravel road and taillights obscured by the rising dust and glowing red. He thought again of the burning cigarette and felt so alone.

Look inside, listen to sample chapters and buy the audiobook/ebook at http://daveturnermusic.com/store.cfm.

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