knoxville

4

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.

 — (Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It)

East Tennessee Gothic
  • When you woke up this morning, it was 70 degrees. It’s now 50 and there’s a massive thunderstorm. Now it’s sunny again.
  • You drive by the TVA lakes in the Cherokee Forest. They are beautiful. Then you realize that whole communities are under the water.
  • You go by a local cemetery at night. There are solar powered light up crosses over many of the graves. They resemble the souls of the dead.
  • You enter a local town. It’s pleasant. The people are friendly. Then you see a sign stating that one of the branches of the Trail of Tears started here.
  • You are driving through the mountains. You miss your turn. Suddenly, you are on a winding back road lined with old trailers and ramshackle houses. Old men with chewing tobacco in their mouths, women with flyaway hair, and shirtless children stare at your passing with vacant eyes.
  • You are in Knoxville: a vibrant, fascinating city. It’s also home to the the Body Farm, where corpses are left out to rot for science.
  • You are hiking in the Smoky Mountains. It is warm, sunny, and pleasant. Then, the clouds roll in, the temperature drops 10 degrees and, in the distance, you hear the sound of a banjo.

you guys

you guys

you guys OH MY GOD YOU GUYS

hooo boy

so me and my roommate Charlie are unpacking some stuff in my room and there’s this apartment right under my window right, well we hear this horrific screaming, like we legit thought someone was being assaulted, so we went rigid and got up to call the cops BUT When we get closer to window, we hear this biblical chanting, and then “ARRGGGHHHHHH” and then “AND GOD CAST OUT THE DISEASE OF THE WORLD” and then “IT BURNSSSS” and suddenly it hits me, the realization of what we’re hearing.

And I turn to Charlie and say, “I think…I think it’s an exorcism. I think there’s an exorcism happening downstairs.”

So?!?! We go out on the front balcony, where our neighbor is holding her baby, super mad because all the howling and shrieking woke her baby up. We’re like “?!?!?!??!?!”
And our neighbor is like “I’m callin the fuckin cops.”

So neighbor goes back in to console baby. We run back to my room to listen because my window is literally right above this shit. The door to the exorcism apartment is directly below my window. It’s open and I shit you not, there is a man guarding the doorway with a fucking bible. A woman is inside chanting biblical shit and some other unseen woman is GROWLING AND SHRIEKING OVER AND OVER.

Me and Charlie are stunned, we have never in our lives seen anything like this. My face is pressed so hard into the bug screen attached to my window, the whole fucking bug screen pops loose and it would have landed right on their doorstep, but Charlie literally catches it in mid-air like she’s some kind of super hero.

The screams are visceral, nonstop, and the jesus chanting, and we’re like what do we do now? So like complete IDIOTS, we decide to get closer.

We run out of my apartment, down the stairs, and creep around to the back so we’re like 30 feet away from this fucking apartment. A handful of other neighbors are out here with us and it’s a mixture of WHAT DO WE DO and DID ANYONE CALL THE POLICE and WHAT IF THERE IS ACTUALLY A DEMON THO.

Finally, lady with baby reveals that she hasn’t called the cops yet.

(“ARRGHGHHHH IT BURRRNS” … “God loves you!” … “NOBODY LOVES ME BLEEEAAAAGGHHHH” *more screaming*)

So I call 911. It rings. No one picks up. NO ONE PICKS UP 911?! I call again. It rings. It hangs up on me. What is happening. The call-back emergency option is on, so the cops call me back. I answer and there is no one on the other line. WHAT THE FUCK. Now I have no bars and my phone stops working. I report this to Charlie.

Another neighbor sticks her head out the window and tells us, “Hey my phone isn’t working?”

WHAT THE FUCK, NO ONE’S PHONES ARE WORKING?

Now, I am a reasonable person. Logical. Scientific. Not religious at all. There’s always an explanation, be it scientific, placebo effect, or coincidence.

BUT CLEARLY THE DEMON IS REAL, SO WE ALL START PANICKING BECAUSE OUR PHONES ARE ALL NOT WORKING AND THERE’S A DARK FOREST RIGHT BEHIND THE APARTMENTS AND THIS BITCH IS SCREAMInG AND people fucking chanting about JESUS JESUS GOD LOVES YOU JESUS.

It. Was. Horrible.

Charlie manages to get the cops on the phone and they’re there within like 5 minutes. Suddenly, all is quiet. Very still. The cop spots us and walks over. I open my mouth to say something.

AT THAT VERY MOMENT, A GUTTERAL, HORRIFYING, BELCHING ROAR comes from the exorcism apartment, and you better believe that got the cops attention and he all like “Well fuck yall I'ma go see this shit” (he didn’t say that) and then he’s gone and

We went back upstairs to eavesdrop. We stick our heads out the now-screenless window to watch the cops talking to the bible-death-demon-party. There are heads hanging out windows everywhere, all of us being nosy fuckers (but honestly you can’t imagine how loud and disturbing these sounds were.) There are three bible-people below, two cops (one talking around a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek), and one very…agitated-looking lady having this very awkward conversation. They’re suddenly super-calm, and the cop with the dip is talking about why it would be a good idea to probably see a therapist instead of an exorcist. And the bible people are just nodding supportively, as if they weren’t all shrieking about hellfire 3 minutes ago. And the cops just leave and the bible chanters leave and the possibly-possessed woman is just chilling outside with a cigarette.

uhhhhhhhh

idk? what the fuck? just happened? But I just witnessed my first exorcism and I even believed in demons for a microsecond, so I’d say this has washed out to be a fucking awesome night.

2

Found this spot downtown that looks like it was handcrafted just for me. Literally everything in this photo (including a few things not as easily seen) reflect me in some sort of w For someone who kinda hates Knoxville, I think I really love it.

Btw this is a self portrait, completely set up and shot by me.

 :D