Finding God at a red light with Yolanda Perry

| March 5, 2013

By D.L. Russell

On a hot summer day in 1987, I was at a red light, at the intersection of Lewis and Lafayette, heading east on Lewis. I was driving the red Firebird my father had purchased for my brother and me to get around. We were involved in sports and we both had jobs, and I think my dad didn’t want to risk us riding in some old beater and have it breakdown on the side of the road.

Anyway, so I’m at this red light, and I’m in a red Firebird, and I got my high school sweetheart riding beside me. Her name was Yolanda Perry and we were as in love as two high school students could be. She was my sidekick and I was hers. We were always at my parents’ place or at hers and we were the only vehicle at this red light.

At the time, I was 17 and so was she, and I hadn’t been driving for a full year on this particular hot summer day. And back then, when I did drive and got stuck at a red light, I was antsy. After the light would turn green, I would push the gas down on that red Firebird and I would go. I mean at 17, I drove like every trip was a race. Like my parents had told me every time I took the car out I needed to have it back within half an hour. Not only did I have a lead foot, but I think I wore lead shoes and socks also.

So here we are at this red light and I can clearly remember neither of us speaking. I’m not sure if I was playing any music, but I do remember traffic running down Lafayette being somewhat light. I also think it was in the evening, because the Post Office across the street was closed and its parking lot was empty.

When it happened, I didn’t immediately notice, and neither did she. The light turned green and we continued to set there. We continued to wait at the light as if it was still red and we were in no hurry to go anywhere, in all honesty. Through the foggy lens of my own memory, I feel like we were there for minutes, but in actuality, it was only seconds that seemed like minutes, because I normally mashed the gas when I saw green. But on this hot summer day, I did not.

Finally, Yolanda looked at me and said, “the light is green,” and I snapped out of the daze I had been in, at that red light, on that hot summer day, and just as my foot began to press on the gas, a car heading north on Lafayette zoomed through the intersection at a very high rate of speed.

After the car went by, I think I shouted something like, “He missed that light by a mile,” then we went on our way to whereever we were going that day.

It wasn’t until years later I realized how strange that incident, on that hot summer day was. I was older, and having one of those moments of reflection and contemplation. And in that moment, I realized some power had taken hold of me and kept me from using my lead foot long enough to give the idiot who’d ran the red light, time to go on by.

Now I’m not going to try to convince you it was God who kept me where I was for those few precious extra seconds, but in my mind, it was. I’m not going to try to convince you because I’ll bet if you think long and hard enough you’ve had a moment or two like that in your own life. Amen…


D.L. Russell is an author of Horror and Dark Fantasy and the co-founder and editor of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful Publishing. You can also visit his blog at



Category: Opinion

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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