Mark I (continued)
It seems really important for me to tell you that I spent more time with Brother
than I'd intended. I did a thing that I shouldn't have. Brother was in the pilot house there on the ferry, and he and several other men were drinking whiskey. As I
rode across The Tennessee with them two times to the west side, we had to wait there
for fifteen minutes before someone needing to cross back to east side came- a man
hauling a wagon load of unshelled corn. And all that time, my brother and me shared
a halfpint bottle he had. We finished it before I headed back toward Ironton. That part of the time I spent was a mistake, but we had a good time.
No chance at all of me making it home before darkness set-in.
Well, me and Old Jim Mac had penetrated less that one-half mile into the pathway
through what was called The Higgins Woods on our way back to Ironton. By that time, the first of
darkness had set in. We hadn't gone much further until my little painted horse reared-up, whinnied, shifted his head; coming very near throwing me backwards and
off his saddle. But I, a one-legged preacher, clung-on that time though it took all
my strength to stay on saddle.
"That's alright Old Jim Mac," I said.
When I jerked gently on the reins, my horse settled down but refused to obey my giddy-up. Instead it stayed frozen in its hoof steps, shaking its head up and down as if to tell me:"No sir ree." My mount refused to venture any further into that night. It was weiry of whatever was that thing we had just seen. but it was useless for me to be afraid. In a way, I felt like a cottontail rabbit in a snare with nothing to do but accept my fate.
An orange, egg-shaped light approached us from out of those dark and deep woods. It came slowly, growing brighter; aproaching us nearer..nearer..nearer until it stopped not five yards in front of Old Jim Mack and me.
Despite all I could do, my little horse again reared-up. That second time, he
unseated me from his saddle; retreating at a rapid pace back in the direction of a
gravel road that led to Birmingham.
As I lay there flat on that ground in the woods, the light swelled-up to thrice the size it had been the first time I'd seen it coming towards the horse and me. Staring into
that spectacle, it seemed to pulsate, and I was blinded until I felt myself being
lifted up. I felt weightless as a goose feather caught within a dust devil. Around and around in its whirl, in a swirl, my life was caught in a steady spin.
When the turning stopped, I was somewhere I don't know.
There I was standing in front a pulprit as if I were ready to preach a sermon to
a large congregation, but not one person was present and seated on the benches there in what must have been a church somewhere.
But there on that pulprit was a golden book entitled The Book Of
Life. I was fully aware and awake within a time and place that I don't know when or where.
I could not help but open that book and turn its pages. And as I opened each page, a rainbow wheel commenced to spin until it slowly stopped. On each page of the book, a different window appeared. It may have taken forever for me to finish,
but I was through reading it from its beginning to end until on its very last page, the spinning wheels and windows ended. There on the last page of that book was just
a simple text message that I read: "The book of life is written from its beginning to its end. It's a story that cannot be changed, no matter how hard we may try."
I had spent that night asleep on the ground along that pathway through The Higgins
Woods- the one that led to Ironton, Kentucky. Not a thing bothered me. Until I was awakened by all members of
the Mulligan family: "Pa, one of them was heard to say? Old Jim Mac came home without you. We've been looking for you since it came to the front door by itself. We didn't know that might have happened to you. We thought you might have died or that your horse might have thrown you off and you'd been hurt. Are you alright, Pa?"
"Yes, I'll be fine." That's how I answered them.
But the truth I can't tell. I'm
lame in both mind and body but known to be sane. That's one thing I've prided myself
All our things are loaded on a wagon pulled by a team of four horses.The day has arrived for us to move to Princeton. That's over there in Caldwell County.
It's a nice little town. I'll be a Methodist preacher there for a while because their minister deceased. We'll stay there until we've outlived our welcome, I suppose.
An account of what happened to me and Old Jim Mac is buried under a large rock behind the
Methodist Church in Ironton. I, John Mulligan, don't care if anyone ever finds the
manuscript or box that I placed it in. There's a true story there that I don't dare