Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Fire Talker

About 2 weeks ago I made an appointment to take very custom designs and bolts of expensive textiles to the commercial fabricators workroom. They are in a big old building on the short side of the square downtown. This place does lots of high end custom bedding ensembles, window treatments and the like. Whatever designers envision and produce fabrication drawings or specifications for these folks can make. Big name designers from Hilton Head, Atlanta, Charlotte,
Savannah and all the tres expensive developments of the lake-mountain-golf gated communities scattered across the borders of North and South Carolina use these fabricators.

They are in the third generation of the family business. They are accomplished pros.

A few years ago one of the daughters , "BeBe", went back to university to earn a business degree. She grew up in this business so she knew how to run the workrooms and the installation schedules, etc. She felt a bit under qualified to take over as the new CEO so she went forth to prepare. She also has a daughter, "CeCe" about two and a half years old. This child has a playroom area within the workroom and is looked after by pretty much all the staff and her Granny. Most of us who use this workroom have watched this child grow from about 2 weeks old to the present. She is a delightful little girl with a spritely personality.

So on the appointed day I wrestled fabric bolts though the front door only to encounter lots of screaming and chaos. It seems Granny had just boiled up some chicken noodle soup for CeCe's lunch. She had put the steaming bowl on the table before getting her settled in her highchair. Somehow the bowl of soup got turned over onto the child's foot where the boiling hot noodles stuck to the flesh and oozed between her toes . Tender flesh burns easily and this child's entire foot was scalded red and the top of the arch was forming into one huge blister. And she was screaming.

I would scream too.

Rightfully, this emergency was going to bump my appointment. So I stacked the bolts in a bay and went on back to the breakroom where Bebe was waving to me like a traffic cop. I always interact with this child when I am at their business, we have a fun, silly, playful relationship. I like kids and generally they like me back. If her mother thought I would be a diversion she was certainly mistaken. CeCe just looked at me and howled louder. I got close enough to take a good look at the foot and asked,

" BeBe, do you need me to drive y'all to the doctor or the ER?"

" No, I think we will be fine here"

" Bebe, this is a first degree burn and between her toes, I think second degree.
Clearly she is in a lot of pain so come on I'll be happy to drive while you hold the baby."

" Thanks Fishy but we've already asked the Red Brothers to send for the Fire Talker"

" The what!"

" The Fire Talker"

" Well damn BeBe, lets us take the baby to get some help while they talk"

" Fishy, do you not know about Fire Talkers? They are God's healers and when someone is hurt like this they come and say their chants and talk the fire out of the flesh."

I looked at this smart, capable, lovely woman and wondered if she was having one of those brain shut downs that happens to some folks in an emergency. It IS the year 2010 . While we do live in an area that was once part of the great Cherokee Nation I think most everybody knows science and medicine have progressed a good bit over the centuries.

" BeBe, are you saying you will NOT be seeking emergency help for this child? That you, an educated woman is going to stand there and let this child suffer while you wait for someone to come thru the door and talk the fire out of her?"

'Yes Fishy, that's exactly what I am doing. Maybe it's best if you go on back to your office as I can see this upsets you. But Fishy, I know this works. They also have Blood Talkers and Poison Talkers too."

I was terribly conflicted. I wanted to call 911 but it was clear this family would refuse treatment.

" Bebe, PLEASE let me take you and Cece to a doctor."

" No Fishy, we'll be just fine and the Fire Talker shouldn't be too much longer".

So I left and went around the corner to the Red Brothers Produce stand to see Bub. He told me to stop my worrying cause his brother Stump had gone to fetch the Fire Talker and all would be fine directly. He went on to explain the Fire Talker would wave her hands in the air over CeCe's foot and say the chants God gave to her tongue and the fire would exit the foot.

Right.
If you have a bleeding problem or blood sickness you call the Blood Talker.
If you get afoul of Poison Ivy , Poison Oak, nasty insects or venomous reptiles you call the Poison Talker.

I got in my car and exited the Twilight Zone.
I did say some prayers for Cece but to tell you the truth I felt terrible.
Surely a responsible person would have called Social Services or the police.

So this morning I was back at the workroom to check on my project. Cece was not there. She stays home these days while Granny looks after her. Bebe tells me CeCe is fine. She explained how the Fire Talker came and had to work hard but after about 15 minutes of waving and chanting Cece quit screaming and then slept for about 2 hours. The Fire talker came three more times. Of course, BeBe explained, they had also " treated" her burns with neosporin and she was now able to walk again, the dead skin was sloughing off just fine and she'd be wearing a shoe again in another week or so.

I mumbled something about the "good news" and moved on to other subjects.

As I drove away I offered up another prayer, " Please Lord, protect me from ever being burned, poisoned or Heaven forbid, bleeding in this place!"

16 comments:

Buzz Kill said...

Sounded more like Deliverance than the Twilight Zone. What kind of person gives hot soup to a child. Until the kids were around 8 or 9, I felt all of the food I gave them for temperature. I even gave them cold food sometimes so I wouldn't have to worry and they were fine with it.

What you described kind of boarders on religion and I doubt social services could have done anything. I guess you have to decide if you can deal with this situation if and when it comes up again or look for a new 21st-century fabrication shop.

fishy said...

Buzz,
I just cannot define how rocked I was to find this sort of pagan medicine being practiced by what I know to be smart, educated, successful business people.

I, like you, was extremely careful about food temperatures before they ever left the Kitchen.

I've never seen Deliverance, but I love the dueling guitars soundtrack.

When I returned to my office I typed "Fire Talker" into my search engine and apparently these
"cures" have been documented for hundreds of years. I kept thinking about how rapidly burned flesh can get infected. Apparently the return visits of the Fire Talker were to facilitate treatment of the burns without pain.

I am still incredulous.
But if there was an "Arthritis Talker" out there, I'd be fetchin her to my Mom's bedside pronto.

Aunty Belle said...

well..............isn't thar' a religion that akshully forbids goin' to doctors? or mebbe they doan forbid it, jes' marginalize ya fer goin'. Christian Scientists? Iffin' I'se wrong somebody straighten me out.

Anyhoo--I figger the gospel account of the Good Samaritan talks of gettin help, so iffin' Jesus delegates some of his healin' abaility to those he gave the gift of doctorin', that is good enough fer me--an any wee persons I know. An I knows some very fine Christian doctors. They don't chant. They work.

fishy said...

Aunty,
This family is Southern Baptist. The "Talkers"
refuse all payment for their services.

This is more of the far reaching surprises of living in this area. It is one of the few locations where applied educatoin and applied superstition live side by side. Where folks with fine degrees come home and still speak incorrectly cause they don't want friends and relatives to think they are uppity. Or maybe achieve a PHD in physics only to come home to GrandDiddy's lumber trucking bidness cause that's what this family does. Or call ol Sam from the dairy farm if there is a complicated pregnancy cause he's birthed many a stuck calf and is trusted more than a physician or a hospital.
I could go on. Part of the charm and part of the horror of the region is the mix of old and new, I just am not always prepared to be face to face with it.

Boxer said...

that's just irresponsible. It's one thing if an ADULT wants to play Voodoo Doctor, but to deny a CHILD proper medical treatment? I don't even have words. I embrace Eastern Medicine as a compliment to WESTERN medicine, not in lieu of it. It's good it's only on her feet, because I bet it will be a terrible scar.

Does it make you wonder how how they run their business too?

(Pam is carrying on the Haiku Thursday tradition.)

fishy said...

Boxer,
I love your logic!
I pushed this as far as possible before I was politely asked to leave. It made me queasy to watch that child writhe and scream. I'm not a shrinking violet regarding medical emergencies for humans or animals but this one was tough. Burns are particularly painful. Thank God Cece is healing well but the RISKS!!!! The risks of infection or cellulitis with burns is enormous.
On my way to Pams now. Thanks for the heads up!

moi said...

Yes, we have Fire Talkers in this part of the country. They're called homeopaths. Don't EVEN get me started . . .

Pam said...

That's a new one on me. We probably have them though, being the buckle on the Bible belt around here. Once in a while you hear about a kid who died from appendicitis (or sumthin') because mom/dad didn't believe in doctors. Do you suppose this is Native American or more Olde World type of superstition? Very interesting. I might have to look it up also. I thought you were supposed to take the kid straight to the sink and run cool water? Back in my day, it was butter (buttah) ... hurt like hell!

chickory said...

youve never seen deliverance? are you joking? a million southern jokes are based on it. and then there is the matter of burt reynolds packed into neoprene. young burt reynolds. mmmmm

er, hey fishy! wanna go to a snake handling festival? they have one just across the border in tennessee. if you love the Lord with all your heart you can dance with poisonous serpents and not be bit. if you do get bit, then your faith isnt strong enough. kinda scary. id love to go...in a voyeuristic capacity you understand.

gah! fire talkers. maybe this is a sideline business i could develop. i figure kind of easy on the neck!


thank you for the honor of making your sidebar! with Veranda no less! you are TOO kind

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Anonymous said...

Moi,
We have homeopaths here too but they are in a different category. The "Talkers" are considered to be conduits for God to use for healing purposes. Because of this, no "Talker" accepts payment for their services. Here, the homeopaths accept as much money as possible.

Pam,
No cold water, no ice packs, no butter. Just screaming and writhing waiting for the Talker to arrive. As for being in the "buckle", this place is the Southern Baptist Bible Belt . I cannot tell you how often I am stunned by folks embracing all kinds of things while professing their Christian staunchness.
On the other hand there are plenty of ministers in these parts who stand at their pulpits and teach hatred which to me is the anthesis of Christianity.

Chickory,
I pass on the snake festival but it does sound like a great Moi activity! I bet she would even bring an apple. I would surely be bitten. Truth is I have never understood the " Love the Lord with your whole heart" concept. I love lots of things , lots of animals and lots of people too. Are we not directed to " Love thy neighbor" ? So if we are taking up room in our hearts to love art or science or sports , pink roses, a good book or a yellow dog as well as our family and neighbors then our "whole" heart is not available. Others say in loving those things you are loving God but ... Whatever, too interpretive to go play with snakes.

ArtChicky, I am proud to have you on my sidebar.
Good of you to recognize the importance of sharing space with a Veranda magazine cover and a scribble art Mermaid :-)

FISHY

moi said...

I would risk the serpent's bite
I would dance around with seven
I would kiss the diamond back
If I knew it would get me to heaven

'Cause I want to get right with God
Yes, you know you got to get right with God

I would burn the soles of my feet
Burn the palms of both my hands
If I could learn and be complete
If I could walk righteously again

I would sleep on a bed of nails
'Till my back was torn and bleeding
In the deep darkness of Hell
The Damascus of my meeting

I asked God about his plan
To save us all from Satan's slaughter
If I give up one of my lambs
Will you take me as one of your daughters?

—Lucinda Williams

fishy said...

Moi,
Great choice in poetry that!
Well structured too.
BUT ... ( I always have a but )
Thing is, I don't believe God asks more of us than honest spirits. As for the testing of said commitments, I think God will send us plenty over a life time. No need for us to go forth and invent our own. "If I could learn and be complete". I was thinking the "complete" part happens ONLY in Heaven.

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theevilapplejack said...

I just wanted to add, that growing up my mom had a small fragile piece of paper shoved in a bible, and any time I got burnt as a child she'd run and get this piece of paper out. We weren't devoted religious people. My mom has strong faith in her heart, but we don't go to church EVER. I myself have NEVER been religious. However, I will say...this practices absolutely amazes me. I'm 29 now and just last year I burnt the top of my thumb on the knuckle area with boiling hot water, it immediately turned red and started to blister. My mom said ohhh come on and took me into her room she proceeded to get the bible out and told me to close my eyes she repeats a secret prayer under her breath and blows on it softly and lightly rubs it back and forth. The whole time, this doesn't hurt. The next day, amazingly everytime...EVERYtime! there's a redmark, but I can touch it and there's no pain, no blister and the redness slowly goes away. I can't freaking explain this, I barely believe it myself. Humans only use about 10% of their brains and this must be in the other 90% that I don't understand...but it works.

Tempt8ion said...

I cant believe you all are calling yourselves christians yet judging those people because they have faith... Faith that does heal burns and there is another that cures warts... My boyfriend has several firetalkers in his family and i have seen them in action and it does work... I am no religious fanatic and dont attend church however consider myself a christian and am amazed at what these people do... I watched his uncle take a child with a serious second to third degree burn completely covering his hand and after chanting a bible verse and blowing on the burn for maybe 5 minutes the child quit crying and there was no more pain or evidence of the burn... He has another uncle that can disolve warts in much the same manner and i have seen it done as well...so before you cast the first stone at these people who talk or blow fire out....perhaps you should take a long look at yourself in the mirrorstians yet judging those people because they have faith... Faith that does heal burns and there is another that cures warts... My boyfriend has several firetalkers in his family and i have seen them in action and it does work... I am no religious fanatic and dont attend church however consider myself a christian and am amazed at what these people do... I watched his uncle take a child with a serious second to third degree burn completely covering his hand and after chanting a bible verse and blowing on the burn for maybe 5 minutes the child quit crying and there was no more pain or evidence of the burn... He has another uncle that can disolve warts in much the same manner and i have seen it done as well...so before you cast the first stone at these people who talk or blow fire out....perhaps you should take a long look at yourself in the mirror