THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Those who believe nothing ever happens out in the country don’t know the country. And they sure don’t know Paradise.
The longer I live here the more I realize this is a place where the unusual occurs everyday. Take the phone call I got last week from a woman I’ll call Lady Ceres. I don’t know what Ceres looks like, but she said she’s in her seventies, and sounded like Lucille Ball-With-Too-Many-Cigarettes.
Raspy. And absolutely sure of herself.
When I answered the phone, Ceres wasted no time. “I read your column, all the way out here on the West Coast,” she said, “and I have a Knowing about you.”
“Knowledge about your life. Sent by my Ascended Guide, who wants you to know you’ve done the right thing, coming to your Mountain and visiting with the spirits. But you are the target of something evil. A demon that can’t strike at you directly because you’re protected. Instead, it’s attacks those around you.”
Now, that’s some “Hi, how are you?” Sure got my attention. I asked Lady Ceres to go on.
“Your property is the site of a native village that existed thousands of years ago. The villagers lived simply but were very wise. They were holy souls.
“After this village and the civilization it was part of came to an end all the holy souls continued living on your Mountain in spirit form. They protect you physically because they need you to protect them spiritually.”
Ceres paused. “Go on,” I said.
“Near your ranch is the cavern where the demon dwells,” said Ceres. “For centuries the holy souls kept the demon sealed within its lowest depths, but twenty years ago the seal was broken. The demon is loose but can’t make its way up to our world until it destroys the holy souls.
“Your presence on The Mountain tips the balance of power. The demon seeks to destroy you by filling you with despair. To do this it has opened channels that allow spirits that are its allies to enter your property and cause harm to those you love. They, for example, are responsible the stroke your wife had some years ago.
“You must vanquish the demon. If necessary, I’ll come to where you are and go with you down into the cavern where we can confront it. Together we will drive the demon away.
“You can trust me,” Ceres added. “I’ve done this many times.”
Lady Ceres paused again. I realized she was listening to something.
“I hear the holy souls,” she said. “They say they are afraid. Hold the phone up so I can calm them in their native tongue.”
I held the phone out, and Ceres wailed and shrieked in a way I’ve never heard before. After a couple of minutes she stopped. “They understand now. They feel better. I’ll call you again, when I get another Knowing.”
My caller hung up, leaving me to ponder her words. Which I did because although she could have gotten much of her information from this very space, I’ve never written about the fact that just a few miles up our road is the kind of cavern she spoke of.
It used to be a commercial venture with a guided tour, and, I’m told, Sunday church services in its “Cathedral Room.” Now it’s closed, boarded up.
Because of the high cost of insurance for such a venture, as some neighbors have said?
Or because of a demon on the loose?
I don’t know. But I’d love to find out.
So I’m using this space to ask for advice. Does anyone from the Paradise area recall the cave I’m talking about? What was it like back in the day? Who owned it? Why did they leave?
Should I descend into its bowels to ensnare a dark force that threatens my home and loved ones?
Am I dealing with anything resembling reality here, or just an old woman’s nuttiness?
And, finally, do any of these questions even matter?
After all, when you get down to it, what better reason is there to wake up every morning, to be alive and breathing, than to welcome the mysteries life brings and let them take you wherever they may?