The Dale Earnhardt Memorial Pilgrimage is the last trip Judge Bekasu Holifield would have chosen for her vacation. But this year it's her sister Justine's turn to make their plans, and soon Bekasu's boarding a silver cruise bus for a tour of Southern stock car speedways with Justine, their cousin Cayle, and a group of strangers--all of whose lives have somehow been touched by the legendary racer they never met.
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February 28, 2006
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Excerpt from St. Dale by Sharyn McCrumb
Midnight in Mooresville
It was not the end of the world, but you could see it from there.
She was an educated woman with a career and a social position to think of, so she lived in fear that people would somehow hear about what had happened to her in April, 2002, on the road to Mooresville. A supermarket tabloid might shanghai her into the role of prophetess of a new religious cult, and people she didn ' t even know would point and stare at her, and think she was a fool. The thought made her shudder. So she only told a few friends about the peculiar incident, and those to whom she did mention it heard it in the guise of a funny story, open to some logical explanation. Of course, Justine had accepted it without batting an eye. Had been expecting it, she said. But then Justine ' s vision of reality was pretty much at right angles to everybody else ' s anyhow. She herself had stopped trying to make sense out of it, because she had the terrible feeling that Justine was right, and that what really happened was . . . what really happened.
' It was not the road to Damascus, ' she would say, invoking Biblical precedent, ' because I had just come from there. Damascus. Virginia, that is, a little town on the Tennessee line, a couple of hours north of where I ended up that night, broken down on the side of a country road en route to Charlotte. '
It was not the end of the world, but you could see it from there. She had pulled over to the side of the road and flipped on the visor light to look at the map. Now the engine wouldn ' t start, her cell phone had no signal, and the dark road was deserted. She hadn ' t seen a house for miles. In this landscape of pine woods and barbed-wired pastures, streetlights were nonexistent, which was part of the problem. She must have missed a road sign somewhere back there when she got off I-77.
She was pretty sure she was somewhere north of the city, maybe in Iredell County, which wasn ' t where she was supposed to be at all. By now she ought to be closer to the city limits of Charlotte, but the sky was dark ' no bleed-in of artificial light from the sprawling city ' so that was past praying for. It was her own fault, though. What kind of an idiot would have taken Justine ' s advice about a shortcut in the middle of the night Justine, for heaven ' s sake, who could get lost in a revolving door. Now here she was, trying to follow a set of directions that were vague at best. ( ' Turn left after the yellow house, only I think they painted it. ' ) Oh, why had she listened There wasn ' t much traffic on I-77 in the middle of the night, for heaven ' s sake. If she ' d stayed on the Interstate, she ' d be home by now.