Hubby has done something to our old computer to get it back up and running...for now at least. I have to type very gently so as not to disturb or anger it lest the screen starts fuzzing up and loses its vertical hold again like it is won't to do.
Thinking about our former small town, pop. 259, reminded me of something else that happened while we lived there that I witnessed. Hubby was the county life insurance man at the time and when we moved into the town, I started working at the little town pharmacy. Normally small southern towns have a tendency to be suspicious of outsiders, especially ones with midwestern accents (although I have now lived in the south so much that I draw my A's out with the best of them.) However, because of Hubby's job, and because people were able to see first hand that I could be trusted to keep their medical secrets, we were accepted fairly quickly into the community. The local moonshiner was a customer of Hubby's, so we always had a jar sitting around just to show off to visitors as if to say "Hey, look at us now, we're one of the chosen ones!" But we loved it there and would live there still if Hubby hadn't gotten The Call.
Anyway, one day while I was at work at the drug store, a mom came rushing into the pharmacy with her little boy who had been badly burned on his arm. The little boy, about two, was wailing away pitifully and the mom was practically tearing her hair out in fear and her own mental anguish. Our local doctor's office was closed and this mom did not have any insurance to take her son to the hospital. Even if she did have insurance, I'm not sure she would have taken him since a lot of the country folks in the area just didn't trust doctors they didn't know. So she came to the pharmacist, who was possibly the most respected man in our town.
The pharmacist took one look at the burn and realized it was beyond any medicine, prescription or otherwise, that he had to offer. He then went to the phone and made a call. I thought he was making a call to an EMS until I heard him say my name. Then he said "Yeah, she's the Insurance man's wife." He hung up and whispered something to the mom and the mom sat down to wait. By this time the child had given in to the pain and was sobbing quietly into his mom's shoulder.
About 20 minutes later this very old, rheumy eyed, dark-skinned black woman pulled up in a beat up old car and got out. She looked around to see if anyone was in the parking lot and, when she was satisfied that no one was around, she came in and walked straight up to the mom and child. I heard her talk quietly to the mom and then the mom moved the boys arm to expose the burn. Suddenly the old woman closed her eyes and started speaking in what I thought was tongues. I had no idea what she was saying and I was a little scared. Now remember, I grew up with a Pagan best friend, so I am not ignorant of chants and spells. Plus, Hubby was ultra-religious even before being a pastor, so I was used to people praying and being prayed "over." But this was different. This was completely foreign to me.
The woman finished and told the mom just to let the boy sleep. She looked over at my boss and me and said "Make sure she don't say nothin'." Then she walked out of the store, back into her car and drove away. By then the child was so worn out that he had fallen into a deep sleep and the pharmacist gave the mom some burn medicine and gauze and she left. When all was quiet I asked what in the hell I had just witnessed. My boss explained that this woman was one of the last firetalkers. Apparently it is a gift that is passed down through a family and the person prays a verse of the bible over a burn and the burn is "talked" out of the victim. I just kind of looked at him in disbelief and shock that he wouldn't have convinced that woman to take her son to the hospital, but I had already learned by then that you couldn't change the minds of some of these small-town people, so I went back to work. But not before my boss swore me to secrecy about the woman's identity. Sadly, she felt that this gift was a curse, actually a sin, since she was an extremely religious woman.
Several days later, the mom and child came in to pay my boss for the cream he had given them. My boss showed me the boys arm where the burn had been. The arm was smooth and perfect as a young child's arm should be. There was not even a change of color showing any sort of residual burn. It was as if the burn had never happened. Occasionally in books I come across stories about firetalkers, but I never actually thought I would witness one in real life.