Chapter 3

Long Odds

CHANCES OF being struck by lightning are two million to one, so I have been told. As a young boy, a lightning experience came my way which was perhaps even more rare than that.

My brother and I were with our mother in the small living room of our home as a storm, lit up by lightning and punctuated by thunder, filled the night air. All of that was outside; we gave it no thought. In the room where we sat, a wire protruded from the base of one wall. We gave that no thought, either.

Until—suddenly, from the end of that wire, a ball of fire entered our room. That luminous ball bounced over to the adjoining wall. It bounced then to the third wall, then the fourth. After traveling completely around the small room, like some large misguided billiard ball, and with the three of us figuratively sitting in the middle of the billiard table, it hit the protruding wire again—and disappeared. A ball of fire had encircled us.

The chances of experiencing a lightning show like that, without ever having to leave the comfort of the living room, are perhaps even greater than two million to one. We were struck, not by life-threatening lightning, but by a once-in-alifetime display which came in out of the storm to surround us.

That protruding wire had been left by a workman who said he would fix it the next time he could get by. My mother made sure he got by the next day. One circle of fire was enough.