The sky above Mulberry Street was purple and boiling endlessly as it rolled over our heads, flickering and mumbling.......the shadow of it rolled up the street, with all behind it mute and charcoal. I saw the line of raindrops marching across the yards and the sidewalk and the street, the dust before it unsuspecting, while we began taking down the sheets and other clothing on the line that had been almost dried by the afternoon wind.
The sun was still shining on us when the sirens began and it made the dogs howl.
There were some neighbor kids in the little bedroom with my brother Guy, swapping comic books, Spider Man, Avengers, and they were either not hearing the racket outside or were just so used to it already that they paid it no mind. I went to the bedroom door though and told them they had to get in the hall, because all hell was almost over us, and at least the hallway had no windows. Just as the last little kid slowly filed out and I had closed the hollow factory door the glass from the windows blew in and shards of killer blades flew across the emptied room, bad pieces meant for meat and blood.
I had everyone's attention then.
We huddled in the hall as the furious wind and hail beat us and beat us and we didn't know how the house stood up or if it would. Always in a tornado storm there is the question, just how wild is this shit gonna get, and the answer is wilder than you know, buddy, wilder than you can even guess. And so on it went, and the howling wind made the dog's howls not matter anymore, nor the sirens.
And then all of a sudden it's passed. A few splatterings of raindrops, and it's really gone, and the sky outside that comes behind the storm is much different, very much, rising up bruised, luxuriant, flushed, satisfied, freshly ravished and radiant. And absolutely staggering.
Whole lands appear, whole sky countries stretching out endlessly in clouds of ivory and gold and reds for hundreds of miles like the Grand Canyon in the air, and the people from the street come out from their houses and mingle together, asking questions of each other that they know the answers to, just to be together for a minute, and they all stand and face the silent unbridled chaos of the sunset, everybody, little kids and old hands alike.
Some of the trees were rearranged during the storm. Our apple tree was now standing right where our next door neighbor's silver maple used to be, and their tree was found firmly planted in the school yard by the tether-ball post. People's cars got all mixed up. Driveways were host to brand new looks, pickup trucks where the sedans used to be and vice versa. Everybody wandering up and down the street trying to sort it all out.
I myself had walked all up and down the street before I realized I was wearing a Cleveland Browns ball cap, and I had a funny feeling I was wearing someone else's socks.
My next door neighbor Carla discovered that she was wearing another woman's panties, and then so did her big brother Hal.
That's when the voices started getting strange. I called out to Hal, who was fidgeting in his driveway, and the voice that came out of my mouth was not my own, not at all. I sounded like our 5th grade teacher Mrs. Harrison who lived on the other side of the school. And when he answered me back he sounded just like my brother's friend Tony. He had said "what.....what did you say......" and stopped with the same look on his face that I had.
There was a lot of similar stuff happening up and down the block, but it's the kind of thing you grow to expect after a tornado, even though it never will cease to amaze you. Tornados are really strange.
After the sunset burned down pretty much everybody went back in their houses, waited for the power to come back on and then watched the local news for damage reports and word of any further action. There was one story about a trailer park in Tecumseh where all the wrong husbands ended up in bed with all the wrong wives, and another from a country-ska band at the Ramada who claimed all of their instruments were out of tune. The mayor of Norman, having just completed a vote in favor of a corrupt food corporation taking over his town reported a funny taste in his mouth and some rectal discomfort.
In the morning everything was getting back to normal, regular clean-up and so forth. The sheep farmers and cattle ranchers were swapping their herds back, and almost no one remembered that once again we had slipped over to the metric system there for about 4 hours.
I was walking out my front door heading off to walk to school and saw my next door neighbor cutting across our yard doing the same thing.
"How's it hangin' Hal?" said I.
"Never better" said he.