Leverett Butts - Musings of a Bored English Teacher

Occasional web log from Southern writer Leverett Butts.

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Location: Temple, Georgia, United States

English Professor in Georgia. Writer of Southern lit

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fear and Loathing in the Afterlife

Hunter S. Thompson

First Gonzo Journalist and inspiration for Doonesbury's Uncle Duke

Dead from a self inflicted gunshot wound

It was just one of those days.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Once again I apologize for the delay in continuing my Roanoke story; however, it's been really a hectic couple of weeks with papers to grade comps to read for, family members sick, friends having kids, and so on and so on and scooby-dooby-dooby.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get the next installments in next week God, family, and students willing.

Hang in there; we're almost through.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

He'd Like to Come and Meet Us, but He Thinks He'd Blow Our Minds

Part 4:

Saturday Continued:

We filled in Sekoni and Abid, the last two members of the Georgia State Contingent, on our Star findings over dinner at a local tavern on a corner of the market square.

"So you two are going up there tonight?" Sekoni asked as she took a bite of her pasta.

"I don't know that we have much of a choice," Jim explained. "We're certainly not getting anywhere with the locals. Going to see it for ourselves seems like the next logical step."

The waitress came by to refill our drinks; it may have been my overly active paranoia, but I could have sworn she gave us each a hard stare and sighed exasperatedly as she walked off.

"Don't you think it could be dangerous?" Abid asked. She contemplated a mound of yellowish foodstuff on her plate, gingerly dipped her spoon into it, and took a tentative bite.

"What in God's name is that?" I asked avoiding her question.

"I don't know," she admitted. "It came with my meal. It's got a weird consistency like a kind of fruit or something, but it could also be a pastry of some sort." She took another bite. "I'm pretty sure it's not meat."

I took my own spoon and dipped in. "Do you mind?" Abid shook her head and motioned for me to take as much as I wanted. She was absolutely right, it had an unidentifiable consistency and little or no taste at all.

"I got nothing," I admitted. "Maybe it's some type of star fruit or something."

"Star fruit?"

"Oh sure," Jim said taking a bite himself. "Definitely star fruit. It's not overtly dangerous, doesn't hurt anybody that you can see, but it's absolutely undescribable, and no one will tell you what it is."

"Weeping Jesus on the cross," our waitress stopped on her way to another table and faced us with an unmistakeable look of exasperation on her face. "It's spoon-bread for God's sake. It's just spoon-bread." Then she strode deliberately away to serve tea to our neighboring table.

She wouldn't stop at our table again for the rest of our meal.

A busboy brought us our ticket without a word.

"I think I'd like to go with you guys," Sekoni said thoughtfully eyeing the busboy.

"Sure," Jim said as he glanced at our waitress staring at our table from behind the bar.

"Can we take your car?" I asked, eating the last of the star fruit spoon-bread.

not the tavern we were at, but pretty damn close

As we left the bar, I saw the waitress pick up the phone, dial a number a say something keeping her eyes on us the whole way.

I can only imagine the conversation:

Waitress: "The outlanders are still asking questions. They may be onto the spoon-bread."

Mysterious William B. Davis type Voice: "Keep your eyes on them."

Waitress: "They appear to be heading back to the hotel. I think they're planning on going up to the star tonight."

William B. Davis: "They won't see anything."

We waited until dark to set out. Sekoni and Abid met us in back of the hotel, and Jim and I piled into the back seat of her compact sedan.

We had barely left the hotel grounds when the trouble started.

"We got a tail," Jim informed us looking over his shoulder.

I looked, too, and sure enough, we were being followed by a white Crown Victoria with a bar of red and blue lights. The uniformed gentleman within seemed oblivious to our stares as he appeared to be engrossed in talking into his radio and eying our license plate.

Sekoni tried to make a few random turns to ditch our tail, but he met us turn-for-turn, and she didn't want to draw further attention to us by trying to speed up.

"I've been in front of enough cops in my life," Sekoni informed us, "to know that if our boy's just looking for a reason to pull us over. We speed up, we give him that reason. He can talk on his little walkie-talkie all night, and we're fine until we break the law." She looked ahead and seemed to see something none of us could see. I saw a hint of a smile in through her rea-view mirror. "Besides," she continued, "I got an idea."We pulled into a nearby convenience store, and filled up the tank. John Law had no choice, but to keep on driving down the road. Since apparently all roads in Roanoke lead not to Rome, but to the Star, we simply took another street until we found the ubiquitious signs pointing the way to enlightenment.

It took us a good thirty minutes to reach the top of the mountain. We encountered no further problems with local officials during the trip. Indeed, the rest of the journey was preternaturally quiet, and even though we may have arrived at the peak without further incident, none of us felt altogether secure or comfortable.

There were about fifteen cars in the parking area behind the star. Jim and I quickly scanned the tags.

They all appeared to hail from Roanoke County. No out of town tourists, no conventioneers. Just native Roanokies apparently out for a night of star-gazing.

Except there wasn't a person in sight appart from my companions and me.

"Hey, Lev," it was Jim motioning to me from across the parking lot, "Come look at this."

When I got there, my friend was pointing to the bottom left corner of the back windshield. I had to look twice before I understood what he wanted me to see: affixed to the inner glass was a decal depicting the familiar square and compass symbol of the Masons:

"Look in the back seat," Jim almost whispered. I moved to the side of the vehicle and looked in the window.

Neatly folded on the back seat were two dark suits and a white apron.

"Curioser and curioser," I said, more closely inspecting the other cars.

seven more cars had the mason decal somewhere on the glass, but we did not see any more strange clothing.

One car had a symbol on it I had never seen before. It was a multi-colored upside-down star inside a pentagram. Each point of the star bore another symbol: a chalice in one, a dagger in another, a sheaf of wheat, a crown and sceptre, and what looked like a podium. An open book on a lectern adorned the middle of the star with five letters surrounding it: F, A, T, A, and L

"Hey, Jim, do you know what this is?"

Jim came over, took a look, and I swear his face drained a bit (though it could well have been the flickering streetlights).

"Yeah," he said, "It's the symbol for the Masonic organization for women."

"I thought the Mason's were strictly Y-chromosome."

"They are," Jim explained, "but they have like a sister organization for their wives and daughters and stuff."

"What's it called?"

"I'm not sure," he admitted, "my granddad wasn't really a member, remember.

"Well what do you think it's called?"

Jim hesitated a little before continuing.

"I'm pretty sure it's called The Order of the Eastern Star."

We decided it was about time to go around and look at the star, so we slowly and quietly made our way down the walkway leading to the viewing deck in front of the star. Sekoni and Abid met us there, having entered the park immediately rather than inspect the vehicles. There was no one else on the viewing platform in spite of the full parking lot. Indeed, it seemed as if the four of us were the only living beings for miles around.

"You know," Abid said looking up at the illuminated star towering above us, "they say Elvis came here in the middle of a tour just to see the star."

"No shit?" I found myself incromprehensively fascinated by the red and white lights shining down on me, bathing my face and hands.

"Yeah, that's what I heard. It was his last American tour, I think."

"Probably killed him." I said smilimg serenely into the light.

"Nah," Jim disagreed, "He's not dead. The star absorbed him, and it'll let him go on the Last Day to play at the feet of the Creator."

"Oh yeah," I said, "that's probably it."

"Um, Leverett?" Sekoni spoke up from somewhere behind me.


"I think your phone's ringing."

continued . . .