Mountain Roads, Copyright 2006 by Michael H. Thomson. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Mountain Roads is a weekly serial that will eventually develop into a hard print work of fiction.
Knoxville Tennessee is an oasis of redneck sophistication. Fancy restaurants, great shopping malls, outstanding clinics, and of course - Big Orange football – all are part of the milieu, that makes Knoxville the capitol of the East Tennessee highlands.
Fifteen miles away, on back roads that wind their way through the Smoky Mountain foothills in rural Blount County are people who tell tales of personally seeing the devil walking and snatching the souls of evil doers. No one who has roots in the area has a conflict with the extremes between Knoxville’s sophistication and the Balkan-like superstition that exists in the foothills just a few miles away...
Johnny Turbyfield sat at his Aunt Zora’s table waiting for the ninety-year-old woman to return inside from her small garden plot just outside her back door. The kitchen smelled of baking. It had always smelled of baking since as far back as Johnny could remember. Soon he heard the squeak of the screen door opening. Aunt Zora was back. In her apron, she carried some small potatoes. “New” potatoes were the common name for the spuds Aunt Zora had just unearthed from her garden.
After putting all the potatoes except one in the sink to be washed, Aunt Zora took the remaining potato and cut it in half with a small knife she carried in the pocket of her apron.
“Which hand has the warts, Johnny?”
“This one, Aunt Zora.” Johnny lifted his right hand and held it up to his aunt. Aunt Zora mumbled something over the potato halves she held, and then rubbed the cut ends of both over the five warts on Johnny’s right hand.
Handing one of the potato halves to Johnny, Aunt Zora said, “Okay Johnny here is what you do: Tonight at midnight go to the Century Presbyterian Church cemetery and bury this potato on your uncle Sam Turbyfield’s grave. I’ll bury the other potato back in the garden. While you’re burying the potato, say the Lord’s Prayer three times. Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, your warts will be gone. Now you better hurry and get to work or you’ll have more problems than warts.”
Johnny stood up and wrapped his arms around his aunt’s humped back, kissed her on the cheek, and left. Johnny had found warts on his other hand five years earlier and his mom told him to see his Aunt Zora who was well known for practicing home medicine - even though some of her prescriptions were a little spooky. The treatment had worked and Johnny had no doubt it would work this time as well.
He just had to remember to set his watch alarm so he could be in the cemetery before midnight. He stroked the accelerator of his little Dodge pickup trying to make it to the Maryville Infirmary in time for the beginning of his shift as a medical technician in the emergency room. Go to Chapter One
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