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A Rambling Man: Chapter 8 (part six) from “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

The wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.”–Psalm 107:4 KJV

cline

Thornton Cline, author of “Not My Time to Go”

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00008]

“Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline on Indigo Sea Press

I had a revelation of truth. This entire time I had been living a rebellious life, and I had become a rambling man, wandering in the wilderness. I had been living my life without the Lord, and I felt empty, like a hollow shell. I needed much more than I had now to fill my life.

As the windter changed to spring in 1982, our relationship continued to become rockier and stormier. Sherry and I were always fighting, yelling and insulting each other. There would be nights we wouldn’t even speak to each other. We didn’t share the same bed anymore.

Our relationship finally broke down completely. I had come home from teaching. I was tired. Sherry was also exhausted.

All of her eight kids were talking to her at once in the kitchen. It was dinner time, and everyone was hungry. They were all climbing on Sherry, begging for her affection and attention.  I don’t know why, but at that moment I attacked Sherry with some mean, derogatory remarks. Sherry instantly reached for the largest butcher knife she could find and made a lunge for me. I don’t think I’ve ever run as fast in my life as I did that moment.  I darted out the back door and never came back again.

That was the beginning of the end. I asked myself how I could ever trust Sherry again. I began preparing for the end of our relationship. It would be a messy breakup, since she was my manager, we had a business contract together, and we wrote songs together. I began asking my songwriting friends for help in finding a place to live.

Meanwhile, after that scary episode of Sherry trying to cut me into pieces, I avoided Sherry completely. I hired a lawyer firend to sever the maganagement agreemnt I had signed with Sherry. I didn’t return any phone calls or messages from her. I cut all ties with Sherry, but Sherry was persistent. She called me at least twenty times a day. She would cry and beg on my answering maching, asking me to take her back. She apologized over and over again from her haert. She swore whe would never ever try to hurt me again.

But it was over for me. I was done with her. I swore in my heart that I had never loved her and didn’t love her now. No matter how hard Sherry tried to win me back, I was through with her.

(To be continued in next month’s blog.”)

#lifeafterdeath; #mikesimpson; #thorntonCline; #indigoseapress; #angels; #notmytimetogo; #near-deathexperiences

 

 

 

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A Rambling Man (Part five) from Chapter Eight- “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in”

–Psalm 107:4  KJV

Thornton Cline, author

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

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Recent discussion about “Purpose” with the Richmond, VA writers group

 

Neverless, I didn’t pay any mind to the advice of  my male friends.  I didn’t heed their warnings. Nothing could persuade me to do otherwise.

I gave my two-week notice to the apartment office manager. I had my utilities disconnected and asked some of my friends to help me move my furniture and belongings into Sherry’s house. I completed the move over the weekend, and made it official at the beginning of the following week.

There were some adjustments to make. Living with eight kids, a babysitter, and in a messy house took some getting used to. But I loved being with Sherry, sharing everything with her, including a bed.

Soon we both discovered we had common interests such as writing, performing, and recording music. We started writing songs together, and soon Sherry began singing my songs.  We decided to record our music in a recording studio in town. When we had recorded enough demo tapes, Sherry and I planned busineess trips to New York and Nashville to try to sell our songs.

Sherry was so enamored with my songwriting and musical talents that she not only wanted to be my lover, but my manager as well. Sherry and I decided to sign a management agreemennt together. The agreement promised that Sherry would promote my songs and me as a songwriter. She would be my chief negoiator in cutting deals with publishers and producers.

In our trips to New York and Nashville, we ended up doing quite well as a team. We managed to have several choral print music songs published with one of the top music publishers in the world.  We signed contracts with major publishers in New York and Nashville and received favorable press. There were articles and stories written of us in newspapers in various cities.

It was the year 1980, and we had been together for over a year. Our trips to Nashville became more frequent. There were many things about Nashville that fascinated us. The people were warm and friendly, and helped show us the ropes of the town. The publishers took a great interest in my songs. The songwriters living there, were amazing writers, and the city was beautiful.

We discussed the possibility of moving to Nashville from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We believed that if we moved to Nashville, we would have a great chance of being discovered. We might be able to get some of my songs recorded and performed by major recording artists.

After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee–Music City, USA. We were excited about our big decision. Sherry’s kids had mixed feelings about moving. Some wanted to move to a new place because it was getting boring living in Cedar Rapids. Other kids wanted to stay in Cedar Rapids with all of the friends they had made. They would be heartbroken if they left their friends.

In the summer of 1980, we packed our cars and headed to Nashville. We couldn’t get eight kids and their stuff in our small cars, so we hired Jeannie to drive a large truck with Sherry’s kids and all of the furniture.

We decided to rent an apartment in Ashland City, Tennessee, about 40 miles west of Nashville. The rent was cheap, and we loved the rural, peaceful setting of a small town. Once we moved and got settled in, however, the picture looked quite differnt than before. When fall came, the kids were not happy with their school, and we didn’t know anyone in town. We were living a miserable life in Ashland City.

It was time to move again. In October 1980, we packed our belongings and moved to a rented house in Old Hickory, Tennessee. It was a small suburb located east of Nashville. We immediately fell in love with the neighborhood, and the kids made friends quickly at their new schools.

The next years between 1981 and 1982 were rough years for us. Our relationship began to deterioate quickly. Despite our living situation, Sherry was devoutly religious, and she believed that it was a sin for us to live together,  She was alway pressuring me to make our relationship legal. Sherry was also getting a lot of heat from her fellow church members about cohabitating with a member of the opposite sex.  Her parents constantly made her feel guilty. Sherry repeatedly nagged me about wanting to get married. To me, it felt like manipulation. It was her idea to live together in the first palce. I began to resent her, and I searched my heart. I wondered if I had ever loved Sherry from the beginning. I began to tell myself that maybe it was just lust. That maybe  I had been lonely and needed a female companion to make me feel better about myself.

I had a revelation of truth.

(To be continued next month). #indigoseapress; #thorntoncline; #angels; #near-deathexperiences; #mikesimpson

 

 

 

 

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A Rambling Man (Part four) from Chapter Eight- “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way: they found no city to dwell in. Psalm 107:4  KJV

Thornton Cline, author
I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences

It was about 11 p.m., but the night was just getting started. She was in the mood for love, and I had captured her heart and mind, swiftly and magically. Sherry reached over and tightly embraced me. We kissed passionately.

It was now about 1 a.m. It dawned on Sherry that she would have to get up at 5:30 a.m. to get her kids to school and make it work at Iowa Bell. She invited me back to her house to stay for the night. I obliged willingly. When we got there, it was quiet. Everyone was asleep.

As we fell in bed together, the phone rang. It was Sherry’s old boyfriend. He wanted to come over and spend the night with her. She reminded him that they were no longer together, and then begged him not to come over because she was too tired and needed to get up early in the morning for work. Despite Sherry’s pleading, the old boyfriend told her that he was coming over anyway. He hung up on her.

Sherry worried that there would be big trouble if I were there when her old boyfriend showed up. She did not want to see a bad fight between the two of us, so she urgently rushed me out of the door and sent me home. She bolted her door and went to bed. Sherry told me later that the old boyfriend showed up minutes later and tried to beat her front door down. Sherry didn’t answer the door, and pretended to be fast asleep. After a while, he gave up and left.

Sherry couldn’t sleep a wink, she said. She felt guilty for rushing me off and sending me home. She lay awake thinking of what a great time she had with me until her old boyfriend had to call and ruin the whole thing. She would call me in the morning and try to get back on my good side.

The next morning, when Sherry arrived at work, she called me at my house. She apologized repeatedly for the awkward moment between her old boyfriend and her. I accepted her apology. We set up another dinner date.

Our relationship seemed to spiral out of control from that point. We grew closer and closer each day. We spent hours together talking, laughing, kissing and touching—everything lovers do. We held each other close in bed at night.

A few weeks later, Sherry invited me to vacation with her in Chicago. It would be a romantic getaway, just the two of us without her kids or a babysitter. I spent the entire weekend with Sherry traveling and touring Chicago. We stayed in a lavish hotel and dined at some of the finest restaurants. This weekend vacation brought us even closer together.

About a month later, Sherry had a big proposition for me. She asked me to a special fancy restaurant in the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids. Over candlelight and an expensive dinner, she asked me if would consider moving in with her. I immediately accepted the offer. It had been years since I had indulged in so much lavish female attention as I had received from Sherry. I was tired of being lonely and feeling depressed. Sherry brightened my life and was adventurous.

I couldn’t wait to tell some of my male friends about Sherry’s proposition. They sharply rebuked me for being so foolish. They warned me of how a man’s life is never the same after he moves in with a woman and lives with her.  #Notmytimetogo; #IndigoSeaPress; #ThorntonCline; #MikeSimpson; #Angels

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A Rambling Man (Part three) from Chapter Eight–“Not My Time to Go”

Cline

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Psalm 107:4 KJV

The next evening, I was nervous. I had no idea what Sherry looked like or what to expect. I was excited to meet her because she was daring, adventurous and provided an “escape” from the painful, depressing world I had experience in the past year.

I pulled up to her small, white-framed house in my Silver Capri. Sherry’s house had bright-green shutters and a bright-green awing that covered her tiny front porch. I got out of my car and walked nervously up the brick-paved sidewalk that led to her porch. I rang the doorbell. Within a few seconds, several young children came running to the door.

There was a pretty collie that wouldn’t stop barking at me. A rather large woman who looked to be about 350 pounds greeted me.  I asked if she was Sherry. She answered, “no sir, I’m Jeannie, the baby sitter.”  Jeannie held the door and asked me to come in.

As I entered the house, a pack of eight children ran up to me, and jumped on me as if I were their daddy. The house was an awful mess with clothes and papers thrown everywhere. There was a distinct stench that smelled like a backed-up sewer line.

Suddenly, around the corner came a slender, tall and pretty brunette wearing glasses and smiling. She held out her hand to greet me. As I placed my hand in hers, she held it for the longest time and smiled. She said coquettishly, “my, your hands feel mighty warm”.

I loved the attention that I was getting. I was willing to overlook everything about Sherry that perhaps made other men run as fast as they could. I was so hungry for female attention that even when I discovered Sherry had been married five times and had eight children, ages 3 through 12, I overlooked it.

I asked Sherry if she was ready to go to dinner.

“Yes,” she replied.

She kissed her kids goodbye and told Jeannie not to wait up for her, she would be in really late. She grinned at me with a flirtatious smile. We jumped into my silver Capri and sped away to the Silver Dollar Diner located on the east side of Cedar Rapids. It was about seven p.m. as we entered the country-style restaurant, and we were immediately seated in a corner table by the back window. We laughed and told jokes.  I felt a strong chemistry between us. We both ordered the country-fried steak with baked potato and salad. And for dessert, we ordered the banana pudding.

After I paid for our meal, we drove around the city in my silver sports car. We acted like two silly little children-giggling and carrying on.  We parked the car by the river in downtown and talked for hours. Eventually, Sherry moved close to me and pressed her lips against mine. She was done talking. It was about 11 p.m., but the night was just getting started.  #MikeSimpson; #NotMyTimetoGo; #Indigoseapress; #angels; #ThorntonCline

 

(Part four to be continued in August)

 

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Not My Time to Go by Thornton Cline

A Rambling Man (Part Two) from Chapter Eight

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Psalm 107:4  KJV

 

Thornton Cline, author

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

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Not My Time to Go by Thornton Cline

Cline

Thornton Cline, author of “Not My Time to Go” on Indigo Sea Press.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00008]

Debut book on Indigo Sea Press

A Rambling Man (Part One) from Chapter Eight

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.

Psalm 107:4  NJK

Call me a rambling man or a wilderness man, but I felt lost for a long time. I was growing restless from spending almost 20 years in school, non-stop. I was working on my Ph. D. in music education at Eastman School of Music. I felt like a professional student. I had no life. I asked myself if studying was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was so ready for an adventure, outside the confines of the school.

The year was 1979, and I was traveling the country doing job interviews for a teaching position at a high school or college. In the end, I was offered two teaching positions—one in Long Island, New York and one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I took the Cedar Rapids position directing orchestra at a high school. The cost of living and the opportunities outweighed the Long Island position. In July, I packed what little I had and headed west to Cedar Rapids in my sporty, silver Capri. In August, I started my first day as orchestra director. I was excited about my new position. I had great passion for teaching and knew that I would love being the orchestra director.

In addition to conducting the high school students, I taught a Suzuki violin class at the elementary schools. One of the greatest insecurities that I possessed at the time was my perception of how others saw me. I was age-conscious. I had been told repeatedly, that I looked as young as many of the high school students. That was a huge problem for me to overcome. Some suggested that I grow a mustache and dress more maturely to give myself an older look.

Even though I knew they meant well, I nevertheless carried that “age-chip” on my shoulder. Everyone knew it, even those who didn’t know me.  That particular insecurity was difficult for me to hide.

My first week of teaching was fair. I had my work cut out for me. I was inexperienced as a first-year teacher, and the students took advantage of my inexperience and youthful appearance. The high school and middle school students looked at me as though I was one of them.

The days turned into weeks as I struggled to maintain authority and discipline at the high school and middle school. I was not experienced in disciplinary problems and did not know how to handle unruly behavior. The students didn’t seem to respect me like I had hoped they would. By the end of the semester, I felt like a dismal failure as a teacher. I was self-conscious about my lack of authority, my inexperience in teaching, and my youthful appearance that it started to affect my teaching in a seriously destructive way.

The principal, Mr. Detrich, called me to prepare for my mid-semester evaluation in January. Mr. Detrich told me he would be observing my strategies, class plans, and teaching style. The thought of such an evaluation made me even more nervous than I had been before. Whenever I imagined that January observation in front of disrespectful and unruly students, it made me feel sick all over my body.

When that first Monday in January rolled around, I had to drag myself out of bed just to begin teaching again. The teaching climate began to go downhill for me on that first week of the new semester. The middle and high school students refused to cooperate with me. Behavior was completely out of control. I had a student-led revolt on my hands, orchestrated to humiliate me, and designed to embarrass and discourage me, so I would quit teaching and leave the school system.

Mr. Detrich observed my teaching style and strategies (or lack of them) as promised. He called me into his office afterward for a meeting. Mr. Detrich said he was very disappointed in me as an orchestra teacher. He was greatly concerned about the unruliness and chaos taking place in my classroom.

Mr. Detrich told me that there was nothing that could be done to turn around the grave situation this late in the game.  He offered me a proposal that I continue to serve out my year contract by attending all classes. But the orchestra classes would be considered study halls with the assistant principal sitting in on all of those classes, keeping order with the students until the end of the year. I was ordered not to do any teaching, but rather to sit in the study hall quietly with the assistant principal. This would turn out to be one of the most humiliating experiences I would experience in my life. Principal Dietrich’s proposed agreement with me was approved by the local school board. I patiently waited out my time, drawing a paycheck until school ended in May. I felt totally disgraced and humiliated. Could I ever teach again?

(Read part two from “Not My Time To Go” in June)

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Caught in the Middle of a Mafia War “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

cline

Thornton Cline, author of “Not My Time to Go”

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00008]

Chapter Seven

       If you’ve been following my monthly Indigo Sea Press blog, you’ll know that I have been focusing on stories of my angelic protection from my new ISP book, “Not My Time to Go”. In this blog I will be sharing with you of how I was caught in the middle of an ongoing Mafia war.

       It would be eight years before any more near-fatal experiences occurred in my life. I was accepted into the Ph.D program in music education at the acclaimed, legendary music conservatory, Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. I arrived in Rochester in August 1977 on a Greyhound bus. Rochester, New York was a wonderful cultural arts city and offered me many exciting opportunities in music. But while it was an amazing place to live, there was a downside–crime.  The administration at Eastman School of Music warned the students about the dangers of the downtown area.  They told stories of students being held at gunpoint and robbed in broad daylight. They warned of beatings, murders, rapes and kidnappings that occurred even during the daylight hours. The school advised students to walk together in parties or use a form of transportation other than walking. Most of the students, including me, ignored the warnings and didn’t take them seriously.

Late one night in November of 1977, I was camped out in a practice room, frantically preparing for a violin jury, where I would perform a difficult classical piece memory in front of an entire panel of distinguished judges. I thought that night would never end.  By three a.m. I was exhausted. I had to call it a night and headed home for a few hours of sleep.

         1977 was particularly violent for Rochester. Crime and murders had risen sharply due to a major Mafia war sweeping the city. The war was fought between two Mafia-associated families the Pistilli clan and the Giovanni family. There were numerous reports of deadly drive-by shootings, car bombings and families being sprayed with roofing nails placed inside homemade bombs rigged to front doors of the Mafia family homes. 

       That night in November, I was so exhausted after hours of practicing that I couldn’t keep my head up or my eyes open. I packed up my violin and walked the six flights of stairs to the ground floor.

      “I’m leaving for the night,” I said to the security guard.

     “Be careful,” he replied.

      As I left the school building, I could feel the gentle breeze of the early morning air. It left a cooling mist of dew on my tired face, promising to keep me awake on my long walk home. I was completely alone, with not a single person or car anywhere in sight. The morning was calm and peaceful. I was numb and basically walking in my sleep. As I crossed Elm Street, I passed one of those parking lots where you pay to park for a certain amount of time. Then I saw a lone man walking to his car. It seemed very late for a man to be out doing business. But I reassured myself that the man was probably drunk and had just left one of the nearby bars. As I passed the nearby lot, the lone man went to unlock his car door. Unexpectedly, a colossal, thunderous explosion rocked the streets, forcing me to the ground. A massive ball of fire billowed from the car and engulfed the man, lighting up the dark, peaceful night. I felt glass and shrapnel fall all around me on the sidewalk. I lay there shaking for the longest time, in a state of shock, scared to the death. 

       After awhile, I carefully and slowly crawled on the sidewalk, away from the fire. I felt my entire body to see if I was still alive. The police, firefighters and paramedics arrived shortly after that and began asking me a million questions.

       Needless to say, I completely forgot about getting any sleep. The paramedics checked my vital signs, but couldn’t find a scratch or cut on me. Despite my close proximity to the explosion, I wasn’t injured in any way.

      Some declared that night a miracle. Others said I was lucky to be alive. I knew better than that.  I was definitely protected by angels and the hand of God. Again. it was not my time to go.

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She Ran A Red Light (Chapter Six: “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

In my past Indigo Sea Press blogs, I have share some stories from my debut ISP book, “Not My Time to Go”. They have all been about angelic protection. This one is about me nearly losing my life as a teen.

I begin chapter six with a quote from Exodus 23:20  NIV:  See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.

     I was age 15, very involved in community orchestras as a violinist, but had no reliable transportation to take me to the four orchestra rehearsals I had per week. Age 15 can be an awkward age, particularly if you don’t have a car or a license. That was my case.

Mrs. Tyler treated me like one of her sons. She was a kind and generous person. She never complained nor grumbled. She was dedicated to her children and always made sure they were taken care of. Many times, Mrs. Tyler was available to transport me to and from orchestra rehearsals.  But then there was Johnny, a 17-year-old cello player who played in the youth orchestra. He was kind enough to give me a ride to orchestra when Mrs. Tyler wasn’t available.

One Monday, Mrs. Tyler called my mom to tell her she couldn’t give me a ride because she had the flu. And Johnny was sick too. My mom scrambled to find a ride for me. After a dozen calls or so, my mom found Mrs. Boucher who agreed to transport me. She was one of the mothers of a friend in youth orchestra.

Tuesday arrived quickly. The last period bell at my high school rang at 3:30 p.m. It had been a ho-hum day at school. I ran out of the building with my backpack on my shoulder and violin in hand. I waved goodbye to my friend as I waited on the corner of Malvern and Augusta Avenues. My ride to youth orchestra would arrive any minute now. It was already 3:35 p.m.  The student crowd was thinning out and the last bus left the school. I was bored waiting. I looked at my watch which read 3:55 p.m. Now I was worried. My rehearsal would start at 4:30 p.m. and it always took 40 minutes to get to the rehearsal hall. Back then, there were no cell phones to call or text to check on someone. Had I missed my ride? I feared that if I went to the school office to call, I might miss Mrs. Boucher. I continued to wait, pacing back and forth on the sidewalk. The time seemed like eternity. I grew more nervous. Visions of running in late for my rehearsal haunted me. I had a very strict orchestra director, Mr. Gustav Martine, a virtuoso conductor from France. I had worked hard auditioning for and preparing to hold the position of first-chair concert master in the orchestra, and I didn’t want to lost that. What if I ran in late and Mr. Martine became upset? What if Mr. Martine asked me to leave the orchestra and never come back. That happened to a friend of mine who played oboe. She was asked to leave because she was 15 minutes late.

The clock turned to 4:10 p.m. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a bright-blue Chevy Impala roared up. The front passenger door flew open.

A woman yelled, “Get in!”

It was Mrs. Boucher, moving at a frantic pace. Her son, who played in the orchestra, was screaming at her from the back seat to hurry up. I threw myself into the front seat and held on for dear life with my violin case in my lap.

Mrs. Boucher took off at lightning speed.

“I’m so sorry for being late,” she kept saying.

As she drove, she dug around in her large red purse and found some pretzels and cookies. She tossed a bag over the front seat to her son and a threw a bag of cookies at me. Next, she pulled out several cans of cola as she steered with one finger. Mrs. Boucher tossed the cans at her son and me, driving like a maniac. Her eyes were everywhere but on the road.

Mrs. Boucher was swerving all over the road as she picked up speed. It was a wonder the police didn’t stop her, as her careless driving gave her away. Mrs. Boucher cursed and screamed at the cars ahead to get out of her way and to move faster. Her son and I realized that we were going to be very late to the rehearsal, perhaps by as much as 20 minutes.

The school traffic turned into heavy rush-hour traffic. Mrs. Boucher continued speeding as fast as she could down the four-lane road.

All at once, the traffic light at a four-way intersection turned red in front of us. Mr. Boucher didn’t even slow down.

“Watch out for that car!” her son screamed.

Her car barreled right on through the intersection into oncoming traffic. Car horns blared all around us, followed by the deafening sound of metal scraping, glass breaking, and tires squealing.

Her blue impala had somehow escaped any damage as several other cars swerved to miss us, colliding with each other. We came to a screeching halt about two blocks past the scene of the accident. Mrs. Boucher, her son, and I climbed out of the car, shaking badly. People rushed to help, asking if we had been hurt. Mrs. Boucher sat on the curb. Someone threw a blanket on her, worried that she might be in shock. She didn’t say a word.

Traffic backed up for miles in all directions. The cars that swerved to dodge Mrs. Boucher’s car were totaled. People were rushing to their rescue and soon the police and ambulances arrived.

At the hospital, doctors examined Mrs. Boucher and our vital signs again and kept us in the hospital overnight. But the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with us. We had no cuts or scratches. The doctors couldn’t explain how Mrs. Boucher had avoided the collision at that intersection. But the angels knew how we were protected in the invisible spiritual world.

Turns out many miracles happened that day, they say. None of those drivers and passengers involved in the accident were hurt or killed, although their cars were badly mangled. Some people dismissed the miracle, however, brushing off the lack of injuries as lucky coincidence. I knew better. While I knew, God had spared my life, I later learned that it was also my guardian angels faithfully protecting me. Another reminder that it was not my time to go, that God had some great plans for me. The accident went on to change the lives of Mrs. Boucher, her son, and me in a positive way. We were forever grateful for the gift of life. We learned never to take life for granted.

 

     

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“Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

Chapter Five: The Attempted Abduction

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A Vacation Horror by Thornton Cline

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

In my last blog, I shared about how I should have died when I was only two-years-old, which is documented in Chapter Two: A Toddler Almost Lost of my Indigo Sea Press debut book, “Not My Time to Go”.
In Chapter Three: A Vacation Horror, I had just finished third grade. Summer had begun, and I was headed to the lovely, pristine beaches of Mathews County, Virginia with my sister, Robin and my parents. We ventured out in our 1959 green Rambler and headed east to the beach. We were cruising down Interstate 64 East, singing songs and sharing stories of how great our vacation would be.
The sun was quickly setting as we took the New Kent County exit and headed down a lonely, two-lane highway, Route 33. It was now very dark.
“Keep your eyes on the road,” my mother warned.
There was an eerie fog that had settled on the highway. It was so dark that even two bright headlights looked like tiny candles flickering in the night. The road creepily wound beneath large trees which draped over the road. It was very rural and there was no one around for miles. Everyone in the car was silent and still. For Robin and me, it was a scary place to be.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a bright light flashed down on the right-hand side of the highway.

Phyllis screamed. “Bob, watch out for those poles.”
My dad swerved left, now seeing for himself the long poles jutting out in front of us. It happened so fast that no one had time to think. Bob steered to the side of the road and slammed on the brakes, taking us from 60 mph to zero in seconds. Robin and I were thrown as the car stopped. We were stunned. Speechless, we sat there in the dark trying to catch a breath. I was shaking violently. I never demonstrated much outward affection for my sister. But that night, I reached over to Robin and held her close, comforting her.
We stared at each other like zombies, slowly realizing that we were alive and in one piece. We had no cuts, scratches or bruises, nor any broken bones. We stepped out of our car and noticed the long skid marks our car had burned onto the left lane.
There was an old construction truck parked awkwardly in a rough dirt driveway. No one was in the vehicle, which was sitting perpendicular to the road. It seemed strange for someone to leave a truck parked like that, its back end barely clearing the right lane. There was no note left on the truck nor was there a rag attached to the truck indicating that it was broken down.
We looked closer and realized that passing that truck would have been fatal for us. We stared in disbelief—jutting out the back of the truck were eight long four-inch wide solid steel poles.
The truck had been parked in such a way that the poles extended over the entire right hand lane of the dark two-lane highway. These poles stuck out low enough so that if Bob hadn’t swerved to the left lane when Phyllis screamed, they would have cut off the top of our car. We would have instantly been killed, our head severed from our torsos.
Then a strong wave of peace flooded my body. I felt like I had been touched by the hand of God. I felt renewed by a new sense of confidence and purpose. At that moment, I felt reassured that I could go on with my life know I was protected by God and His angels.

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