Greetings From The Bible Belt
Written by Nickolaus A. Pacione
Word Count: (2,421 Words)
What questions come to mind when someone lives in the bible belt? It is often the thing that comes to mind when I look back at the times when I lived in Glendale Heights, Illinois, and the dreams that I had from living around that area are often tough to think about. Especially living around the God damn Jehovah’s Witnesses. These kind of things played into a lot of my old nightmares when I was in my early twenties about them knocking on my door and trying to brainwash me in some weird way. The type of things that no one wants you to write about let alone think about if you lived in the Bible Belt, and this comes to mind when I wasn’t able to sleep for days on end.
It came to mind more often because I went to school with someone involved with the Watchtower Society. I can’t remember the kid for the life of me who was a fucking Jehovah’s Witness, but I remember when they had the children walking around talking about how Christ was on a torture stake. Sometimes I see them wandering around in their black suits and bibles in hand, militant bastards with Nazi looks. The kind of thing I see myself in the dreams reading the signs, and their saying “Greetings From the Bible Belt.” All the more the nightmares became more vivid when I used to walk past that godforsaken place known as Kingdom Hall. First thing I thought when I walk past that place was the gray children with the glowing yellow eyes. Some would tell me that I’ve been watching one too many Science Fiction movies when I say this, but it is often coming from my nightmares when I see this place.
It would play more into this when I began to dream when it wasn’t just the children in gray but it was the adults too. I never really mentioned the nightmare to my boss I was working for at the time at the college because she would tell me that I was writing too many horror short stories and watching too many Science Fiction movies. Just that it seems to play strongest in the mind when I think of the Watchtower Society or as some would see Kingdom Hall. Everything about the dream and the reality seem to just mend together, everything seems to play into itself when one lives in the Bible Belt. When one sees a building such as a Kingdom Hall, the thoughts that come to mind of all those old horror or Science Fiction films call to mind.
“You’re watching too many Science Fiction movies,” one of them would say. The smug look in their face often told all but the nightmares I had told me otherwise. This is often where I found myself a character in my own works of fiction, that being the dream that the sign says, “Greetings from the Bible Belt.”
I knew what I’ve seen in the nightmares and I had to put them down, even when it is ten years later. As I stare at the glowing screen in the present day, it would be looking back at the old nightmares as they make themselves manifest. Each memory stared at me as they were some kind of photograph, and what I see in the dream is of me holding those photographs placing them in a book. Except for one thing about this scrapbook, no one was able to see it but me except in those pages look at the photographs of the Watchtower Society. It stands in the different perspectives when I see myself pasting the photos in the scrapbook, all those photos that echo everything about what was Glen Ellyn and Wheaton, Illinois –- the dark perspective that says, “Welcome to the Bible Belt, shithead.”
Everything I knew about the Bible Belt from living there from the things I wrote about later in my horror stories, it sometimes contrasts each other while the others would call it one thing. Blasphemy. All the madness implied within the nightmarish things I wrote about often echoed the nightmares seen within reality, and the encounters with the Jehovah’s Witnesses always gave me nightmares. They thought I got the nightmares from being involved with the Assemblies of God church, but in truth the ones that gave me the nightmares were the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The whole idea that scared me in my sleep had to be that if one thinks, they become a dog’s breakfast. I see the people involved with that sect being something of a victim begging to be victimized. All the nightmares drawn from the old vehement drawn from the memory of their buildings, all the walls and the God they pray to isn’t the God that helps the sick – their God invokes sickness and death. When they come knocking on my door, I have this thing in mind what I want to say but I never say it. I think, Fuck they’re coming, why don’t they go play hide and go fuck themselves? God damn it, where these people find me?
It becomes the memory of when I would take my mountain bike past the Great Western Trail, each time I would stop near the Kingdom Hall it would give me a cold chill. Just that everything from the dreams as described of those scrapbooks of all that was unseen, gathered among those things collected – sight unseen. That’s the way it goes when someone unseen was asked if they can cleanse their wounds, but the answer is nothing or they cannot cleanse those kind of wounds. When they all collect together and pray to the King in Yellow; another way to see the nightmares as they woke me at night. Another lie from them when they see it before their eyes, as they feel the shit covering their graves. The words I see in the nightmares when I see them buried alive, “You’re now leaving the Bible Belt.”
It paints itself into pale shades of gray and black when their congregation looks on while their own is buried alive. The beginning of the circle where one stands, and in the nightmares they are seen at the grave would be the scrapbook. Madness becomes the soul of all that are damned, waiting for all that stand in the lines. The type of thing that comes to mind when looking at the snow covered ground and the gray colored sky within Du Page County. From the eyes of the nightmares and wandering eyes within the dreams as they stand before the circle of death. I felt myself numb with fear, looking at the grave with an empty coffin which inscribed the name, “Sharper” upon it. In the circle of the gray I found them – it came to the mind as I stood there on the Great Western Trail, all that stood in the eyes and shadow. The dreams that come to mind when I woke from them, the former boss telling me that I was watching too many Science Fiction movies or read too many horror novels. My imagination would run away with me on late nights going down Main Street (Glen Ellen Road as it is known as in Glendale Heights.)
It often comes down to what was said to me back in my college years, some things aren’t always meant to be written. Things like this are a sin not to be written. Just as it would be from someone who I won’t mention their name for the sake of this narrative told me, “This isn’t meant to be written.” It was in this that I knew a lot of my nightmares awakened from there in the shadow of those words they painted in the blackest memories of my mind. Those are the kind of things I heard being said, “Welcome to the bible belt, enjoy your stay.”
When I stare at this word processor now, nearing thirty years of age – the type of things I’ve seen and heard when I was in my twenties made me feel like I was walking around in my Gothic Horror plots. As some would see me in the walls of the InterVarsity Fellowship, they would say there are things that can be said without fear but there are more things that need to be written. That being in the eyes of someone who was once one of them. The kind of things that I would draw up in the meetings and during their bible studies, would be one thing that played into mind when I biked past the Kingdom Hall – the macabre vision of an abortion tree.
Those abortions would cry and ask why were they killed; and within them become the dead that came at the hands of the Watchtower Society. The question of those asking why they passed on because of the Watchtower’s hand. The question if I was watching one too many horror movies or watched one too many Science Fiction films come to mind here, but that is only in the perspectives of the ones who were asking. In the dream there were members of InterVarsity holding the scrapbook that says, “Greetings from the Bible Belt.”
The horrors seen from them are documented in the ways I could not say or write; knowing as I stare in the present day at the glowing screen it came to me slowly as drops of water. In some way, shape or form it would collect itself in the back of the mind wandering around as a shadow or a shade of gray. Wandering as it was, in those years when I was twenty –- in some way those nightmares made themselves manifest years later. I found myself the subject of my own fiction from having these kind of dreams or nightmares as some would say. Just that it seems it would arrive in one way, shape or form when it wanders around in my sanity. One way or another they follow me from one form or another, from memory or life – they painted themselves into the darkest recess of memory. Where it is written that darkness hath no fellowship with light, and in that being said it becomes a darker shadow of what it was.
When I try to say something of them to my long time friends they would say I would watch one too many horror films or read too many Science Fiction novels. Then make the quip, “Nick, you’re mental anyway. You read too much; has anyone told you that you need to party more? You’re too much of a thinker for your own good.”
There were days like that more so when I was in Glendale Heights, when I haven’t slept for days because of a particular dream. One or more of those reasons why I found myself going to the local diner, sorting out thoughts or kept pages written in a journal. The kind of thing that I never wrote about until now was the dream about the scrapbook, and the times when I worked in the record store. A few of the co-workers said to me when I was there, “Maybe when you get hard up for material you would eventually write about us.”
That was the summer of 1996, and here I am in my late twenties thinking about that one. It is all the scrapbook that comes to mind, “Greetings from the Bible Belt –- you will return soon.” It was all from there when I seen either the people in the gray suits or the ones wearing the white shirts and black ties riding on their bikes, where some would say they worship God but in truth they worship the King in Yellow. That is the thing about living in a bible belt town, the imagination does in turn become darker and wander no matter what they say – think upon the pure or the lovely.
No matter where one wanders within their nightmares, there is an abortion tree staring in their face asking why did they die or the dead from those who thrown away their medications. In what they say when they tell the sick to discard their medications and let God heal them, and it is their way of saying it is the sick’s time to die. “If God can’t heal them, it is their time to go.”
I dread to think about the idea of what they would say about the people who have my illness, or the thought of them knowing that we have to live better through chemistry. All that remained in the eyes as the seasons changed from year to year, in the dreams as it wandered in the pages of the scrapbook –- the words that come to mind are Greetings from the Bible Belt.
Looking from page to page and a memory to another memory, they stare back as a reflection in the mirror –- so haunting that one can see. Everything that comes to mind when I think about these strange dreams, it comes to mind when I see the cries from the abortion tree. From one memory into the next, and one nightmare into the next it seems to be when it wanders into the eyes that gather in a godforsaken darkness, it becomes the other paths that stand away –- when the Watchtower bows and prays to the King in Yellow. Seems that everything in the Bible Belt, they don’t want one to know all the stories that would be the makings of a Gothic tale. One way or another when I mention this, I find myself the main character of my own fiction. When I have the dreams about members of the Watchtower Society walking out of the building with white hair and glowing yellow eyes, it often has me waking up screaming.
Just something about the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses happen to scare the shit out of me even now, more so back then. That dream that stands in my mind when I see them and the sign on the road saying, “You’re now entering the bible belt. Enjoy your stay here.” It was one of those passages I found myself looking back and ask myself, “where the hell I get the ideas? It has to be from living around here.” That I felt within the home that was Glendale Heights, Illinois, it didn’t quite feel like I was in the bible belt even in truth –- I was in one.