He also pondered what else he needed to do to come back from where recent years had taken him. He wanted to get the demons out of his head, demons that developed from his wounds and pain, from abuse and being malnourished in the POW camp, and from the visions of blood- filled rivers, waste covered streams and shattered bodies in places he never heard of before he faced it. All of the horrors and hardships had hardened him and he knew he needed to soften up, to do something good for mankind to cleanse his soul.
So, how would he do it? Well, first off, he must reopen his heart to the Holy Spirit and let His light shine in. It was not that he totally lost his faith, but he had placed it in a dormant place in his soul. The filth, grime, stench and death dulled his senses to goodness and light and he needed to renew his relationship with God. Remembering what he learned from his parents and even the children’s Sunday school he attended, he knew the only way to do so was with love in his heart. This would require him to take the lock of it, cast away the nightmares and demons and let the Holy Spirit fill his needs. Even then, he knew that returning to the person he was before would never be fully possible, but he could make himself into a new person and focus of doing good works for the rest of his life and that’s what he would challenge himself to do.
So, he turned and continued down the road with another disillusioned and shell-shocked Southern soldier who was released from Point Lookout at the very beginning of his long road back to North Carolina. From there the road would be toward reclaiming his life for a positive future and for his ultimate salvation. It would be an arduous process.
These are my initial thoughts as I begin my new book which will follow “Summers at Old Nags Head.” It will ultimately take place in similar surroundings withl characters that may exhibit some of the traits of people that I have known. It won’t be about them, however, for it is a fictional work and none of them were alive in the timeframe covered. The book will start with John Eldridge as a prisoner at Point Lookout, avoiding reality by dreaming about how he got to the horrible place where he found himself and then, upon his release, facing the challenges of getting back home. It will then go into the struggle to survive in the times of Reconstruction and beyond. It will offer a picture of just what it might have been like to live through the period in the Tidewater regions of both Virginia and North Carolina, including her wild and wonderful Outer Banks.
As I so often do, I create the story as I go, then go back and review, monitor, cut, add, change and all the other things necessary to make it into a book worthy of merit. All I know at this point is from whence it starts and it is now a work in progress.
So, why did I choose such a story beginning for a historical fiction work? Well, in addition to my natural love for the location of the book, I wanted to show the devastation of war on a young man and what it will take to forge ahead and make a new life for himself. The same story could have been done about a Northerner or a young man from anywhere who experienced the horrors of war and the devastating aftermath. The major point to remember is that these young men didn’t create the war, they just did what they thought was expected of them. They largely served as the pawns who faced the carnage for the political creators of war. We must remember that back in those times, their home state was the principal focus of their loyalty rather than a far distant federal government in Washington. Anything more than a day’s horseback ride away was almost like another country. They fought for their families and the land that they called home. So, maybe, just maybe, my work when done will be an aid in changing the way we think about war. Oh, it’s sometimes necessary, but it should never be taken on lightly or with expectation of quick victory. It usually doesn’t turn out that way.
Don't hold me to the title; that, too, will likely change.