Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ADVENTURE genre (05/24/07)
TITLE: Unforgettable Memories
By David F. Palmieri Sr.
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I first met William Henry Harrison aboard ship back in 1967. I can’t remember the details, but I know we quickly became friends. It might have been partly because Bill was from West Texas and I was a cowboy at heart. We had several harrowing experiences back in those early days. One time we tried to cross the flight deck, of the aircraft carrier we were on, during a hurricane at sea. God brought us through that one though neither of us knew Him at the time.
Then there was the time when there was a fire in the boiler room while Bill was standing watch. Two electricians were killed when an electrical panel exploded. All of the boiler men escaped safely. Others of us had to return to the boiler room, using breathing apparatus, to secure the boilers and prevent further damage. We could only stay about twenty seconds at a time. Some of the 36” I-beams down there were twisted like pretzels from the heat. After the fire chains were placed across the hatch until we returned to the states. Once again God was there working in our lives.
One day I finally lived my dream. I went home on leave with Bill to Texas for two weeks. His dream was to hook me up with his sister-in-law, Ginabeth. Mine was to get new boots, a snake skin belt and a new cowboy hat. I also got an Old Timer hunting knife while I was at it. I was in my glory, especially when Bill said, “lets go coon huntin’ tonight.” I was now an official Texan.
That night Bill, his dad, and I got into the pickup and headed for grandpa’s place. As darkness fell we prepared for the hunt, but something didn’t seem right to me. Nobody was getting rifles, pistols or even flashlights. The extent of our equipment was grandpa’s little Terrier and a burlap sack that Bill retrieved from the barn. I was told that the dog would find a coon, run him up a tree, and then Bill would get him into the sack. For the first time I was beginning to wish I was back in New Jersey.
Somehow I ended up at the head of the line with grandpa’s Terrier on my left. There was enough moonlight that I could barely see the well-worn path. At one point a death-defying scream came from high in the trees off to our right. My heart was in my throat and I had nothing to wash it back down with. “Just an old cat” someone behind me said. I later found out that an “old cat” was a cougar. I was beyond ready to go home.
Continuing down the semi moonlit path I was deserted by my hunting partner. Grandpa’s Terrier suddenly ran ahead about ten feet and let out a howling yelp. A second later he returned to my side whimpering and crying. I carried him as we headed back to the house. The others said that he’d been snake bit, probably a rattler. They told me that dogs can survive a snakebite. It usually just makes them extremely sick for a few days.
That dog had taken a poisonous bite that was destine for me. I learned later after returning back to the ship that the dog laid under the chicken coop for over two weeks after that night. Based on his size and the length of his illness the guys estimated that the snake must have been five to six feet long. More than enough to have killed me had it not been for that Terrier running ahead. Once again, God had intervened in the life of someone who wanted no part of him.
Twenty-five years passed and I found myself standing next to Bill in a small Baptist church in west Texas. Sharing a hymnal I could only thank God that we were both standing there as His children. After loosing contact for all those years Bill’s daughter had found me on the Internet one day. She called me to let me know that her mom had passed away two weeks before. I had gone there to spend a week with my old friend. Upon my arrival I learned that in the past years God had saved us both. Instead of drinking buddies we were now brothers in Christ. I’m sure glad that God had a plan for us both back in those early days.
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