Confronted by silence

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

He cranked up the radio upon sliding behind the steering wheel. “I got sunshine…on a cloudy day… .” The car rumbled to a start as he shifted into drive, “grrrrrrrRrrrrrrrRrrrrrr… .” It changed gears as the wind blew past, the tires making their monotonous roar on the asphalt road. The brakes squeaked slightly as he came to a stoplight. He sat idling, looking left and right. Lewis was headed to the countryside, a trek he rarely made out of the city, to see a cousin he rarely visited. He felt the road, his car and all his surroundings vibrate to a steady beat coming from sub-woofers two cars back. “Boom, ba ba boom, ba ba boom… .” He cranked up his own radio to compensate as the light turned green. Behind him was a rescue vehicle with lights churning, siren blaring, “errrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrr.” Lewis pulled over and let him pass.

Needing gas, he wheeled into a station. His car door closed behind him “whump” as he lifted the gas nozzle and squeezed. The traffic roared past as a voice from the loudspeaker above announced inside-the-store enticements. Lewis strolled in, the door pinging as it opened. A television was advertising a new show “…every weekday at 8 p.m…” on the counter to his left as the cash register rang up. The self-serving drink fountain squished as it filled a cup with liquid.

Having paid, Lewis strolled back out as an 18-wheeler came by with its low, hard rumble. A bridge was being rebuilt down the road as the crane pounded the steel column into the ground “wham!…wham!…wham!… .”

Sliding back into his car, he roared off to the east, tapping his fingers to his new CD. His phone went off with his personal ringtone as his GPS system declared “turn left in 2 miles… .”

After two hours, Lewis arrived at his destination, a two-story country house down a long lane in the middle of a field. He stopped his car, stepped out and closed the door. Then he paused. There was something uncanny, even eerie about this place. Scary, even. What was it? He stood there, all alone, as if his world had somehow changed. Then it hit him. This was the first time, in over a year, he had experienced pure… clean… clear…………………………… silence.

He ran back to his car, beads of sweat on his forehead, yanked the driver’s door open and turned the radio on. Loud.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is