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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

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Big boltsJuly and August are tough months in Ohio, Screen Five mumbles lazily, undone by summer’s swelter.

I laugh. “The last few years, Ohioans have found January and February far tougher.”

I know what Five means, says Four. The weather is far from consistent.

Screen One dives in. You can have temps soaring in the 80s, and yet the very next morning you walk in breezes so cool you shiver without a sweatshirt.

“Then our weather is consistent,” I argue. “It is consistently inconsistent.”

Humidity knocks me out, wheezes Three. Do people here really wonder why power disappears when every air conditioner in the state is running on turbo? Even the bees sweat.

“Seriously? Look at me with a straight face and say that.”

What? Never heard of sweat bees?

The lightning is the unpredictable hazard, interjects Six. You cannot deny it, Black – we have had some close calls with those excited electrons. Transformers blowing up by us, trees catching fire, even that soccer game …

While several players pace the sidelines, 22 more race the length of the Athens practice field that early evening. Harder than catching the speedy forwards is catching my breath, humidity causing even sideline stars to nip ceaselessly at the water supply.

Water Break“Water break!” our coach yells, bummed his dehydrated college team proves human and must replenish precious fluids.

The race is on! exclaims Six, spurring me to run in vain hope we will outpace others and drain the drinking fountain. As one younger, faster player after another passes me, I wearily roll my eyes in exasperation and look up at the sky.

Why so many birds? wonders Two. Check out all the crows in that one flock.

As I do so, my disbelieving eyes see a lightning bolt rend the heavens and blast the very drinking fountain toward which I speed.

That sound, murmurs Three. A million bees buzzing.

Apparently the “bees” are angry, because “they” hum across my chest, my arms, my face, stopping me with what feels like eternal sting and static cling.

As your eyes digest the scene, narrates One, you realize players closest to the fountain are knocked flat on their backs. Some gasp, whether from shock or heart failure we cannot tell.

People run everywhere: some toward the fallen, others away. I scan the sky for offending cloud and spot not one likely suspect. My gaze drifts down and I see the once-aerial crows dead and dying on the ground, an entire flock blown from their flight pattern.

We who still stand stretch hands to the downed. They dazedly regain feet, wobbling as heads are scratched and vitals checked.

No one dies! cheers Two. No one sustains permanent injury.

“True,” I affirm. “And better yet? Now I’m first at the fountain.”


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Postscript: Dan Squiller is a diehard fisherman.

“Diehard” is a great adjective, admires Three. Particularly appropriate in this story.

He and his friend are out on one of the many lakes in Ohio –

Two cheerily chirps, “Land of 10,000 lakes!”

That would be Minnesota, corrects Five.

– peacefully drifting along in a metal boat. The blue skies are cloudless, the big fish are biting, the hours are full of nothing more dangerous than daydreams.

Yet a lightning bolt strikes, its warning thunder coming long after what’s fair. Dan’s craft crackles with a haze that dances from stern to bow and back again. Along the way, it lights up the boat’s surprised inhabitants –

Shocked, eh? quips Three.

– whose bodies involuntarily match the spastic rhythms of their uninvited guest even as the two men wonder just how long a lightning bolt can laze about one arena.

Both survive, notes Five. Still, Dan never is quite the same after that electrification.

Got to wonder, muses Three. Does he even need a night light?

* * * * *

Relax, this double-strike ISN’T real

What life is like during Ohio summers