The Storm - A Will Starr Short Story

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The Storm



It wasn’t that the Jeep couldn’t handle the increasingly deep snow so much as he could barely make out the road. But he wasn’t worried either, because he was equipped with his survival gear, even if the temperature dipped below zero, and the weather forecast had predicted five below zero before the night was over.

He was barely crawling because the headlights and off road lights combined only illuminated the road ahead for some twenty feet. Beyond that was a solid and unrelenting curtain of white. The same weather forecast had predicted at least two feet of snow, and drifts as high as six feet.

Tom Dawson was less than ten miles from his destination, but it might as well have a hundred miles, because he was obviously not going to make it tonight. He was just considering where he should stop, when an apparition suddenly appeared out of the gloom, and he slammed on the brakes. He slid to a stop with just feet to spare and just sat there for a minute, staring at the tiny young woman in his headlights.

She was clad only in a dress and a light coat. On her feet were high heels, and she had no head cover at all. He quickly came to his senses and scrambled out the door. Without saying a word, he scooped her up in his arms and walked back to the Jeep, placing her gently on the passenger seat. She was shivering uncontrollably.

He flipped the super efficient Jeep heater on high, and the cabin was soon uncomfortably hot, but he left it there anyway. Gradually, her shivering decreased, and at last it stopped. Then she turned and looked at him as if she just realized he was there. Suddenly, her eyes filled with tears and she began to weep quietly. After a few minutes she dried her eyes and glanced up at Tom.

“I was so scared! My car slid into the ditch just up the road and I couldn’t get it out. I was on my way to a friend’s house, and it was only a few miles, but then the snow started and the road became slick and I …”

“Where is your coat? Surely you didn’t start out without a heavy coat in a Wisconsin winter?”

She shook her head slowly.

“I was so excited that I simply forgot. I even looked for it after going in the ditch before I realized what I had done. How could I be so foolish?” Tears welled in her eyes again as she looked at him, silently pleading for understanding. Finally he patted her small shoulder.

“Well, no harm done, and you’re safe now.”

“I was also low on gas, but it was such a short trip that I didn’t bother. I ran out over an hour ago and that’s when I realized how much trouble I was in. Then I heard you and ran out on the road because I thought you might miss me otherwise.”

Tom nodded. “That was using your head because I almost certainly would have missed you otherwise. Of course I almost hit you, but that’s the risk I guess. Buckle up, and we’ll see what we can do.”

Any hopes of making it to town were dashed less than two miles later when they encountered a drift at least six feet deep. Sighing, Tom got out and looked for a spot to park overnight. He didn’t want a snowplow to slam into his Jeep, so he had to get off the road.

Luck was with him, because he found the entrance to a farm field that spanned the invisible ditch. After a few deft maneuvers, they were safely off the road, and he shut off the Jeep.

“I guess we should introduce ourselves. I’m Tom Dawson, and I was headed to Newton. It looks like we’re stuck here for the night, so we’ll have to make the best of it.”

She bit her lip and stared out the window at the opaqueness of the snow. “I’m Rose Duncan, and I was also headed for Newton.” She turned to him.

“I’m not at all comfortable about spending the night with a total stranger, but I guess I have no choice, do I?”

“No, you don’t, but you’re in no danger at all. My Dad raised me right. So too, for that matter, did my mother, but she passed on when I was twelve. Are you hungry?”

The sudden change in the conversation startled her, and she realized that she was indeed very hungry.

“Being chilled like you were and shivering so violently consumes a lot of energy, so I’m guessing you need some food.” He reached into back seat and pulled out a duffle bag. Poking through it, he found a can of Spam and a sealed plastic container of crackers. He handed them to Rose along with a bottle of water.

She was ravenous, and ate the entire can before she guiltily thought to ask Tom if he wanted any. He smiled and shook his head.

“No, I’m fine, and you needed all of it. Food keeps you warm. In any case, I need to make up a bed in the back so we can sleep.”

She paled. “Um, I think I’ll just sit here tonight. I can sleep sitting up.”

“That won’t work. Within an hour or so, it will be nearly zero in here, so you can’t sleep up here. But my sleeping bag is rated to forty below, so we’ll be fine.’

He glanced at her panicked face. “Don’t worry Rose. I’m a gentleman, and you’ll be fine. I promise. My sleeping bag also zips open into a large, down-filled cover, and we’ll sleep on my rolled up foam mattress. And of course, we’ll both be fully dressed.”

“Can’t we just start the Jeep now and then and warm it up? Or are you low on gas too?”

“We have plenty of gas, but the danger in doing that is carbon monoxide because the snow will probably pile up and prevent the exhaust from escaping. We wouldn’t know we were dying in time to save ourselves.”

He could see that she was still very uncomfortable with the idea, so he changed his mind.

“Tell you what. I have this heavy coat on, and I also have a spare blanket, so you can sleep in the back, and I’ll make out up here.”

Tom folded down the back seats and rolled out the foam pad. Then he took the big sleeping bag out of another duffle, unzipped it and spread it out on the floor.

“There you go, Rose. Sweet dreams.”

She looked at him for a long moment. Then she bit her lip and seemed to make up her mind about something.

“We’ll both sleep back there, Tom. You can’t sleep up here any more than I can in this terrible cold. And you’ve already promised me that you are a gentleman. I believe and trust you.”

Somewhere in the night, Tom woke up for a moment as Rose snuggled up to him in her sleep, her head nestled softly on his shoulder. Her faint perfume wafted over him gently, as he drifted back to sleep. Outside, the snow fell silently, and the temperature dropped to six below zero.

The pounding on the roof woke Tom, and he saw the bearded face staring at him through the cleared side window.

“You folks OK in there?”

...

The snowplow driver puffed on his cigar as Tom and Rose told of their ordeal.

“Smart to have a survival pack on board. Folks have died without one.” He peered through the clouds of aromatic cigar smoke at Rose. “Your car a white Ford?” When she nodded, he strolled over to the big, idling snowplow and talked to someone on the radio.

“Whitey Willard just loaded it up on his tow truck. He’ll be here in a few minutes and you can drive on in behind me.”

Rose’s face reddened. “I’m afraid I can’t. I ran it out of gas trying to stay warm. It was already low when I left.”

“Whitey always carries ten gallons of gas with him. You can still follow me.” He smiled down at Rose and his eyes crinkled with an inner kindness. “Don’t worry yourself about it. We all make mistakes, Ma’am. You’ll know better next time.”

Tom Dawson rolled into Newton with time to spare. He dressed for the wedding and then entered the church where he met with the groom, who was his old high school buddy. Then he took his place and watched as the wedding party walked down the aisle one by one and took their places. At last, the organist began playing Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, and the church came to their feet as the bride and her father came down the aisle and halted. Then Tom stood and walked to the pulpit.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…”

The reception was held at a local lodge hall, and Tom Dawson was seated with the wedding party when the bride broke away and came over to him.

“I want to thank you for all you’ve done, Tom and I want to know if you can do me one more favor?”

Tom rose and smiled down at her. “Of course.”

“Would you mind dancing with, Julia, my maid of honor? The best man twisted his ankle on the way over here, and he currently has his foot in a bucket of ice.”

“I’d be honored.”

Julia was a good dancer, as was Tom, so they remained on the floor as the band prepared to play a slow dance.

“Julia, huh? I could have sworn that your name was Rose.”

“And you never told me that you were a minister, Tommy Dawson. If you had, I might have used my real name.”

“Well, since we’ve already slept together once, I wonder if you’d consider going out with me? Even we ministers fall in love if we aren’t careful.”

Julia laughed and jabbed him gently with her elbow. “The answer is yes, as long as you don’t go around blabbing that story about our sleeping together. We’ll save that one for our children.” She blushed at her own boldness.

Tom Dawson smiled down on tiny Julia Winters, and pulled her just a little closer. Her faint perfume wafted over him as the band began playing their first slow dance together and the beginning of forever.

------------------

Author's note:

This story was in response to Jackie Lynnley's Winter Story HubPage Challenge. While the story was purely fiction, it was based on one of the author's most foolish youthful adventures in which an almost balmy Iowa winter day turned into a blizzard so fast that the author slid off the icy road into a ditch and walked nearly a mile dressed only in street clothes to the lights of a farmhouse barely visible through the blinding snow. The farmer and his wife treated me for frostbite with generous amounts of bourbon and gobs of Vicks Vaporub. By the time my Dad arrived, I was truly "stinking drunk".

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Comments 70 comments

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 23 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

I love stories like this, Will - well, I love all your stories. This one is romantic and the kind that makes me remember the dreams I had when I was young about meeting my "knight in shining armour".

Bet your Daddy gave you "what for" because of that youthful adventure of yours. LOL I sure am glad you survived.

Merry Christmas, Will Starr, to you and yours.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 23 months ago from Hereford, AZ

Another beautiful story from you. I really liked this one. Reminds me of the trip my husband and I made shortly before our first anniversary. It was during one of the few ice storms in NV. We left Kingman, AZ and went to Sparks, NV for my sisters wedding on January 10th. I was 8 months pregnant and spent the trip on the fold down bed in our van, snuggled in a sleeping bag. It was so cold that we had slush in the radiator. We were afraid to stop driving until we got to my aunts house and knew we were safe. He drove most of the trip, but could not stay awake for the last hour of the drive. I managed that with no problem.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Phyllis and Merry Christ,mas!

My dad never said much of anything about my various misdeeds, but his look of disappointment was far worse than anything he could say. I would rather have taken a beating than disappoint my dad. He's been gone for many years, but I still get a lump in my throat just talking about him.

But in this instance, he just smiled and took me home. I guess having hot toddies poured down me by well meaning folks wasn't all that big a sin to him, even though Daddy never took a drink in his life.


Dip Mtra profile image

Dip Mtra 23 months ago from World Citizen

Happy ending stories are my favorites. Thanks Will Starr, and Merry Christmas.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

I've had a few of those trips myself, Becky and I'm glad those 'good old days' are in the past!

Merry Christmas!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Dip Mtra, and Merry Christmas!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

Shoot; I knew something was gonna come of that sleeping together business. My mama didn't raise no dummy! hahaha

I love it Will but my woman's instinct kicked in pretty quick with two bodies warming together in a sleeping bag. I bet this will be the hottest winter story told in the challenge!

It was good; I will stop picking now, vote it up and share it. Then put it at the top of the list!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 23 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Your Daddy was a wonderful person, Will - I can tell that by the way you speak of him. I often write about my Daddy, who was quite a character. My Daddy has been gone many years, too, and I know that "lump in the throat feeling". I always put a tiny red basket on my Christmas tree, with 3 little Swedish butter cookies in it, for him. He loved my butter cookies.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Jackie!

Some of the steamiest moments occur when nothing actually happens!

BTW, I wasn't trying to best anyone at all. I was just fulfilling my promise to you. But I do thank you for your kind words.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Phyllis,

We all have a character yardstick I guess, and for a great many men it's our fathers. I think most of us believe we fall far short, but then our own sons seems to think we are their yardstick. Truth be known, we all fall far short, but a son seldom sees his father that way.

Thank God for that!


Ghaelach 23 months ago

Morning Will.

Waking up on a Christmas morning was and still is a special thing. What with all the presents to open. As a child it was so exciting. But as you grow older and live as I do in a land far away from your children, something seems to be missing. I'm not moaning about it, as my wife and I have been together now almost a quarter century.

To cut a long story short, for someone that is getting a bit thin on top and more memories then he can remember. There is nothing better than waking up on a nice fresh, cold, even if still green (no snow yet) Christmas morning and reading a Will Starr story.

Although I love and miss your westerns this took me totally by surprise. A modern day Will Starr story are few and far between. Loved it from start to finish and from the first word I was waiting for your twist, but as always this one caught me totally off guard. All's well that ends well, as they say.

I wish you, your family and all your followers a wonderful day and a happy New Year and a safe and healthy 2015.

Ghaelach


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 23 months ago from Rural Arizona

A day without a WillStarr story with a twist at the end is like a day without sunshine. I knew you wouldn't let us down on Christmas day.

Hoping you and Carolyn have a great Christmas and New Years.

Mike


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia

Wonderful winter story Will. Your taes always have a happy ending and involve a gentleman hero. Chivalry is still alive. Always a pleasure to read everything you write.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 23 months ago from Central Florida

Great story, Will. I enjoyed the fact that Tom and Julia were destined to be together. You wrapped the story well around your real-life experience.

Another great read from the master storyteller!

Merry Christmas, Will!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 23 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

When I was a fairly new driver I went out with my mothers car in a heavy snow and was rescued from a ditch by two cops on patrol duty. They pushed me out of a snowbank and followed me home, presumably to make sure I got there OK. Don't know if they could do that in today's world.

It is Chrismas day and very little snow in Mid-Wisconsin. We had early snow this year than most of it melted away. Well, after the last two winters, we can use a mild one.

Merry Christmas!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, James Stuart White and a Merry Christmas to you!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Mike and a Merry Christmas to you and your lovely Sue!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you John Hansen, and what's your Christmas temperature?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Shauna, and a Merry Christmas. I have many fond memories of Florida, where I used to stay with my grandfather.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 23 months ago

A beautiful and romantic story to enhance Christmas Day. Up, beautiful and awesome! Merry Christmas!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Don!

Back in those days, I spent half my youthful driving either stuck, out of gas, or broken down. I loved it!

Merry Christmas!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Pop, and a very Merry Christmas to you!


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 23 months ago from Upstate New York

Terrific story. You're right up there with O. Henry, you know. The little twist at the end, and the heart-warmed feeling the reader gets are just so much the same...

I'm certainly going to be reading more of your stories in the future, and I don't usually read fiction on this website.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa

Will, I read this story earlier today but could for some reason beyond my comparison not comment. But here I am at last, applauding this beautiful romantic story.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Well thank you, Paradise! That's the second time someone has made the comparison to O. Henry, so I'm very flattered!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Martie and a very Merry Christmas all the way to South Africa!


Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 23 months ago

Excellent! as always. Romance is always in the air especially at Christmas.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hiya Ginn, and Merry Christmas dear lady!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

I snuck away from the family long enough to read this fine story and wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Bill, and a Very Merry Christmas to you and yours!


lambservant profile image

lambservant 23 months ago from Pacific Northwest

I too love the twist at the end of the story. An endearing winter story.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Lori, and a very Merry Christmas to you!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 23 months ago from Asheville, NC

I like the romance story here at Christmas. Another one of my favorites. Merry Christmas!


Jodah 23 months ago

Hi Will, our temperature Christmas Day was around 32 degrees Celsius. Not sure what that is in Fahrenheit. Quite warm though.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Suziecat and Merry Christmas!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi John! That's just under 90 degrees F. That's a warm summer day!


Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie Hagley 23 months ago from New Zealand

Loved this story a real eye opener for a lass like me that doesn't know anything about being caught in snow and how to survive.

Just what I needed to read a nice short story after christmas day for relaxing and getting back in mode to start writing after a busy few weeks for christmas.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 23 months ago from Southern Illinois

This is another great story. I loved it! Stinking drunk, huh. Hee..


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 23 months ago from eastern North Dakota

Great story, Will! Up here in North Dakota I have experienced way too many of those blinding blizzards, but not ONCE has any gorgeous young woman in need appeared out of the gloom!


DJ Anderson 23 months ago

This is a lovely story, Will.

You kept us hanging on to the end, waiting to see what the connection

was going to be between Tom and Rose. Quite a nice surprise.

Hope you had a blessed Christmas.

DJ.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 23 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Great story Will. You captured both the cold and the warmth.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Elsie. Snow in the northern states can quickly become deadly for the unwary and unprepared.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Stinking drunk I was, Ruby Jean! ^-^


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Give it time James! ^-^


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, TJ!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Mike!


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 23 months ago from Victoria, Australia

What a delightful story - thoroughly enjoyed it.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Blossom and I hope you had a very merry Christmas!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

Aw, now, that is one wonderful winter story and thank you for sharing your true adventurous one winter night at the end there.

Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

Merry Christmas and blessings for the New Year and always


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Theresa, and Merry Christmas!


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 23 months ago from California

Laughed so hard my husband came to find out what was going on. He enjoyed your story as well. Thanks I needed a good laugh.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Judy!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Merry Christmas to you Will! Great response to Jackie's challenge. A wonderful story beautifully told. I love a happy ending and you did not disappoint.


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 23 months ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Bourbon and Vicks Vaporub? Who would have thought. LOL I'm sure "stinking" was an understatement! Another great one here, Will. Best wishes, Kim.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 23 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

As soon as I saw the photo, I got shiver – along with the opening lines about the drifting snow and subzero temps. But as soon as Tom Duncan’s character came into full view, like “Rose,” I relaxed, and felt that same level of warm trust and that all would be well. What a great twist – clever, delightful and charming…I never saw this one coming. Just wonderful, Will! This is writing. Happy New Year!


Stargrrl 23 months ago

Good story! Voted up, and will check out your other hubs.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Stargrrl, and welcome to HubPages!


resspenser profile image

resspenser 23 months ago from South Carolina

Saved this one until after the holidays and it was sure worth the wait. Excellent job!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Genna East!

I missed your comment somehow, but thank you and Happy New Year!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Ronnie!

I just re-read your Christmas story, and I still think it's the best one this year by far. Just superb.

Thanks you for the kind words.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 23 months ago from England

What a lovely story Will, and you did make me laugh with your true tale at the end! lol!


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 23 months ago from Somewhere in the West

lol Good Job Billy :) Rose was very forward "save it for our children" huh my jaw is still dropped lol. Well at-least he was truly a gentleman and i don't give her wrong for being afraid to trust him. Because men are complete piranhas when i comes to women and lonely places ...... :( hmmmmm

Thanks for sharing

I do hope you are having a swell day

Happy New Year to You and your Family


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Nell!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, LadyFiddler.

Yes, men are attracted to women and vice versa, otherwise humans would cease to exist. But in my long lifetime, I've met just one rapist, and he was in prison. I think men are getting a bad rap on that score. Most men would never force themselves on a woman.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 23 months ago from New York

What a wonderful twist on Jackie's challenge...a work of fiction filled with all the right stuff from star to finish! It was fun to read and wonder what was going to happen next.

Voted up, awesome, and interesting.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Mary!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 23 months ago

I felt the chill of the snow as I read through your delightful story. It brings back memories of being up north in snow country and being stranded. I was pleased to see the man was a gentleman!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, teaches12345!


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 18 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Great story and I felt like you were writing about our winters in Indiana. Any one who lied up North knows this story.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 18 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Stella. Sadly, there are dangers everywhere, and we lose folks from the north almost every year when they go out in the desert without water.

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