Walter pulled his old black Studebaker Wagonaire, with a blue covered bible in the back seat, onto the right shoulder of the interstate and, after looking to his left to be sure no other cars were coming, walked to the center of the southbound lanes and fell to his knees. He had been returning home from late religious services at the Church of the Very Happy Word, located in a storefront of what had once been a candy store in a small village in upstate New York, when an alert blared from his radio – “This is not a test. If this were a test, you would not be hearing this message. This is the Highest Power speaking. You are to pull to the side of the road, walk to the center, kneel down and prepare to pray, then await further instructions.” The alert sounded again, then the radio went dead. Walter immediately pulled over.
When he knelt on the center line, between the two travel lanes, he looked up and saw a cloud above him form into a circle with an eye in the center. The eye blinked once. Walter raised his arms to the sky and asked what he should do next. A voice, sounding like his ninth-grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Mandel, told him that he should close his eyes and pray for safe travels then wait for additional guidance. He closed his eyes and, in his most fervent voice asked out loud, “Oh Merciful One in the sky, please bless this road and keep all travelers safe.” Then, while waiting for the voice to return, he opened his eyes and saw a state trooper staring down at him.
“Sir, would you please come with me to the shoulder of the road. What you’re doing is very dangerous.” Walter tried to explain what he was doing but the trooper, with the help of a sheriff’s deputy who had just arrived, grabbed him under his armpits and pulled him out of the roadway.
“Please, you don’t understand. I have to go back. It’s my duty.”
“That’s okay, sir. Just come with us and we’ll make sure everything is taken care of.”
The deputy placed a plastic restraint over both wrists and gently moved Walter into the back seat of the trooper’s car, pressing his hand onto Walter’s head to be sure he didn’t hit it as he slid in. Then the trooper drove off with the deputy following behind.
“Where are we going?” asked Walter.
“Just a few miles. We’re going to have you checked out. Everything will be fine. Don’t worry.”
“But I am worried. The Voice told me what to do and now I can’t do it.”
“We’ll put in a call when we get there, and will tell the Voice what’s happening,” said the trooper.
After a few minutes, as the patrol car signaled and turned off onto an exit ramp, the police radio lit up and a dispatcher’s voice came on and said, “All cars in the vicinity of mile marker 36 on Interstate 88 please respond to incident on the southbound lanes. Two tractor trailers and four cars involved. Report of 7 victims. Fire and EMS en route.” The trooper glanced in his rear-view mirror at Walter’s face.
Walter looked up out of the car window and saw the eyeball looking down at him. A large tear formed in its corner and fell with a splat onto the windshield of the police vehicle.
He had tried but failed. It would be a story he’d have to tell at his church the next Sunday.