"The Annual Fear"(1) © By Rolly A. Chabot
We are fast approaching the winter months again. Yesterday we had a storm pass through with high wind, rain and hail warnings being issued early in the day and I was able to track it via satellite and the leading edge brought in nothing less than what was promised.
The aftermath in our small town could be seen all over, short lived but a reminder of just how small we really are in comparison to what nature can do when she decides we need a reminder.
Gather around as I start this new book series from one of the books I have had published called "The Annual Fear" a reminder of the fury of nature and the corruption we see all around us and the difference one man has made to keep his town in good order. Please enjoy the read and love to hear your comments. We are drawing into the winter months and the "Fireside" is again open.
Know that you are all loved...
“The Annual Fear”
© All Rights Reserved
By: Rolly A. Chabot
The earth trembled ever so slightly; another winter had come and gone in the valley. The Ice Jam had started to let loose after several weeks of backing up. The siren sounded again, the low wail had started at exactly 6:13 am. The locals called it high water season as it seemed to happen every year, anything low in the valley was subject to being flooded.
Many had left town already, filling vehicles with fuel, packed as much as they could carry, heading out in all directions and to safety. Sheriff Dan Sidon had stayed. It was his job to care for the small town. A rustic town with many old Victorian homes mostly turned Bed and Breakfast for the summer months.
Cedar Ridge is what they called their town. Typical rural small mid western town, settled deep in the valley next to the Midwicket River. Fly-Fishing capital was the claim to fame. They would come from miles around to claim the bragging rights to the biggest and the best.
He stood on Center Street; it sat in the lowest area of town. South was the Middy River a small tributary of the Midwicket. A menacing tributary, which snaked through the towns lower reaches. Each year it was the same; the potential for flooding was ever present.
The greatest threat was from the Ice Jams, which formed at Creaser Bend a half mile downstream east of town. This year it was particularly bad as the Chester Dam in the west had been opened too early. Lifting what ice had been left, any and all ice left in the river would come to a halt at Creasers Bend and the rest was history as the water had to go somewhere.
He looked east and west, no sight of anyone, his job was to make sure the town proper was looked after. The few houses, which were located in the lower reaches of the Middy, were his concern. For now there were very few people still around, high grounder’s they called themselves. They could stand and watch the flooding while the others were forced to run.
Dan walked toward the bridge to take a look. There had been a permanent marker placed there a few years back. It was used as the official measuring stick. When the water reached a certain point the alarm would hail the town awake, danger was pending.
Torrents of water passed by, debris scattered on the surface. The debris had already started to back up on the up side of the river as it had rose to within inches of the bottom girder. The bridge would be in jeopardy with a day or two if this did not break soon. He had made it to about the center of the bridge when again the ground began to shake. The bridge groaned. The vibration seemed to come from both sides at the same time.
Shivers rose from his feet to the center of his back, and then vibrated throughout his body. Danger in these conditions reminded a man of just how small he really was. He had a sense, which told him to run, and yet fear was something he had overcome many times in his life.
Dan casually reached into his shirt pocket pulled out his pack of crumbled Lucky Strikes, lit one and stood with one foot raised on the railing. Defiant of the danger around him, he stood his ground. Dan Sidon refused to back down from most adversaries, yet this one spoke deep in his soul. He was no match for Mother Nature; she had proven her might many times in his life.
He took a few deep drags of the smoke, looked at it and flicked his cigarette into the Middy and within a few seconds it was out of sight. He turned and looked up river. The muddy waters filled with debris rushed by and were sucked under the bridge. It resembled a huge flushing toilet, the sound getting louder by the minute.
Up river he could see a massive log jam coming his way. Massive trees, twisted roots exposed four to five feet in the air. He stepped back and walked off the bridge turned just in time to see it strike. The bridge lifted, settled again and lifted a second time. Only inches away the pavement heaved once, was torn loose and the entire bridge was caught in the torrent. Twisting metal sounded and within minutes the entire north section settled again 25 yards to the east. Leaving a gaping hole on either end of the place the bridge used to sit.
Images of a small cardboard sign “Bridge Out” came to mind. He reached for his radio. “Sidon to Cedar Yards, Sidon to Cedar Yards.
“What was that sound came the crusty voice of Wally Harris booming in the Blazer Dan sat in. That fool bridge again. I near spilled coffee all over the desk. “The voice belonged to Wally Harris, also known as “Hairy Wally.” The man was covered, arms, legs and a face with a beard that all but hid his triple chin.
“Just lost the bridge Wally, better get a crew out and barricade this thing before some fool drives into the drink. Post both ends, you will need to cross over on 11th Street. Be careful we have some Redwoods letting loose in Sidon Valley.”
“Right, should just cut the works down, wish your Dad had taken the offer years ago. Nice to look at but with the spring run off they always rip our town apart. You still own that piece of dirt you call a farm.”
“Still do and I stand firm on leaving everything as is.” “Touch any trees there and it is like touching me. How is Betty doing these days Wally, hear she is having another setback?
“Meaner than ever, this Multiple Scleroses is a horrible disease Dan, I would never wish it upon anyone. Sad as it slowly robs you of life and the chance to live normally. Most days she is like a bear with a burr somewhere I cannot say on the radio, we have rules they tell me. Terrible sickness but she will make the best of it. Better get things happening, I will tell her you asked about her.”
“Thanks Wally, good to know we have you working with us. You are a good man Wally, crusty but good. We need to be spending sometime this year doing some fishing together. What say you come up with the family to the farm one day and we will make it a family day. The place could use some laughter."
"You are on, maybe the sound of a chainsaw would help looking at what is passing in the river. Looks like one of those giant Redwoods from your place Sidon. "I know, I know, they are yours and no one better touch them. Best get to work. Later Dan."
He lit another cigarette and watched the river roar past, the bridge had settled into it’s new home; the north bank was starting to wash out. It would call for much new fill from Ogden’s quarry up the road. This would be a mess to clean up and zap the towns resources. There would need to be some emergency funds released to get the necessary repairs done. It could not have come at a worse time, another month and the town would be bursting with fisherman lining the banks of the river.
He flicked his half finished smoke into the river, why he smoked was beyond him. The taste in his mouth was thick. A new stick of gum would freshen it up again. He reached in his shirt pocket, took out the pack of Lucky Strikes, three remained. No better time than the present he thought and tossed the pack into the river. Time to wash that part of his life away.
It was done, he had officially quit, Beth would have been proud. Sadness came over him as he walked slowly back to his cruiser. “I miss you sweetie”, he said as he slid behind the wheel. Miss you something terrible."
He slid his massive frame into the new Blazer they had bought him last year. He just over 6 feet tall, broad shouldered. He slipped off his hat and ran his fingers through his thick wild hair. This would be a long day. Dan Sidon had a town to look after.
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