I drive through a Pennsylvania valley, rimmed on each side by Appalachian foothills. To my right in the near distance is a family farm: a cornfield, a red barn, a silo and a white clapboard house with a red brick chimney.
I’m traveling home — home, I suppose — to retrieve goggles for my son’s swim meet at some unknown location.
The skies darken, then blacken. Funnel clouds drop from the sky, one and then two. The red barn explodes sending timbers flying and twirling through the air. I am calm. “You can’t outrun a tornado,” I think to myself. “And there’s nowhere to take shelter. It’s best to drive directly into the storm. I have heard this advice somewhere.” So that is what I do.
The funnel approaches and I feel it lift me up. I float momentarily in the truck before being set down with a not-too-heavy bump on the side of the road.
I look up to see the farmhouse coming down, floating at first, but then with a great slamming velocity — it’s red brick chimney looming, ready to smash my body. Still, I am calm. I cannot die with my sons so young in the world. It is impossible. I simply duck into the seat well and allow the engine block to take the brunt of the impact. The farmhouse smashes into infinite pieces — wood splintering and brick crumbling.
I step out of the truck and the world is still and silent, the air and all sound have been sucked out in a vacuum. I imagine a quarter and a feather falling at the same rate and clanking together at the bottom of their plastic tube.
I remember the swim meet and feel the boys at the pool, standing on the deck, shirtless and vulnerable as the sky turns black and they are sucked up by the funnel into oblivion. I run down the road. It is chip and tar with a double yellow line. The air is hot now and I am sweating. I stop because it is pointless.
I stand in the middle of the road, my feet on the double yellow line. It is a cool evening, the sky is black with a million stars. In front of me is an idyllic barn flanked by a silo standing sentry. There is a man there in well-tailored pants, a shirt, tie and black suspenders — his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He raises his arms, his fists balled tightly and looks up. He zips into the sky in a steak — straight up in perfect perpendicular. I look for him in the heavens, but I can’t see him, he’s so high or so far now he’s no longer visible — gone in a second. And then I realize, he is Superman.