Charlie Haley, Sheriff of Longhorn County, Texas sat in his office that was located in the court house and watched the cold winter rain pour off the brim of the hat of the statue of the Confederate soldier that stood guard on the court house lawn. â€œI hope this frog
|Flash Flood by Rod Wright|
strangler of a rain storm hurries up and passes through. If it doesnâ€™t, the creeks are going to be running over their banks,â€ he said to his deputy Dorothy Slovak, an athletic blond who was in her late forties.â€ â€œBoss, letâ€™s hope that none of the low water crossings on FM 11 donâ€™t flood,â€ she answered. â€œAmen, to that. We donâ€™t need any cars in the creek tonight!â€ Charlie got up from his chair with his coffee cup, and limped over to the coffee pot, but before he could reach it, the phone on his desk rang. With a sigh, he went back to his desk and answered his phone. â€œSheriff Haley, how can I help you?â€ â€œCharlie, this is your sister, Jolene. Miss Lustgarten called to say that the back door of the old Vantec house is open and banging in the wind. I sent Rita Fay and David, her boy friend over to close it, but they havenâ€™t returned yet. It been over an hour.â€ â€œSis, you know young people. They probably went to the Dairy Queen. They may have gone to the bowling alley to hang out with their friends.â€ â€œCharlie, I know, but that old house worries me on a day like this. Go to the house and check it please?â€ â€œYou havenâ€™t been listening to Janet; your daughter-in-lawâ€™s ghost stories have you?â€ Charlie asked with a chuckle. â€œJanet never said anything about ghosts. She said that while she lived there with her grandmother, when Robert was in Vietnam, she was visited by Barr, the Egyptian cat goddess in a dream.â€ Charlie groaned, â€œOK, Iâ€™ll go check out the house. As he hung up the phone, he thought, â€œI wonder if all English teachers have such vivid imaginations.â€ As he put on his Stetson hat and rain coat, he said, â€œDorothy, hold down the fort, while I try to locate my niece and her boy friend.â€ Charlie hurried through the pouring rain from the court house to his new nineteen eighty eight Crown Vic sheriffâ€™s car. After driving the three blocks down Crockett Street, he parked behind the old lime stone mansion, which had been built before the civil war. He noticed that the back screen door was banging in the wind. â€œIt must have blown open again,â€ He muttered to himself, as he got out of his car, and went up the back steps to secure the door. As he started back to his car, Miss. Lustgarten, the town gossip came out on her back poach, and said, â€œSheriff Haley, it is good to see that for once that you are doing your duty.â€ Charlie adjusted his hat and replied, â€œDid my niece and a young man come by earlier to close the door?â€ â€œYes they did. Rita Fay seems much more responsible than her mother was, when Janet was her age.â€ Charlie not wanting to hear again about the mistake Janet had made twenty years before, said, â€œI do believe that I have secured the door, but if it blows open again give me a call.â€ As he got into his car, he thought, â€œCharlie, you getting daft in your old age. Why did you encourage that old gal? She calls in to complain about something at least three times a week.â€ Chapter 2: David and Rita Fay Try to Leave Before the Storm At the Dairy Queen David ordered a Coke float and Rita Fay ordered her favorite, a strawberry Sunday. When the number for their order was called, David started get up, but Rita Fay said,â€ Iâ€™ll get it.â€ She quickly got up, and swished to the counter to get their food. As David watched her, his heart melted. It was difficult for him to believe that such a beautiful girl with red hair, green eyes and an hourglass figure could be in love with him. Rita Fay out of the corner of her eye saw David watching her. She blushed, tuned, and gave him a beautiful smile. When she returned to the table, He said, â€œI am glad we had a chance to explore the old house.â€ â€œYou told me that some people thought the old house was haunted. It certainly is spooky on a day like this. When your mother lived there with your great grandmother, did she see any ghosts?â€ Rita Fay answered, â€œMom is a scientist. She would never admit that she saw a ghost.â€ David thought a moment, and asked, â€œWhat about the statue in her office that has a head of a cat?â€ â€œThere is an interesting story about that statue. My great grandfather was a Captain in the navy, when got the statue of Barr, the Egyptian cat goddess. Great grandmother, who I am named after, believed that Barr existed, because Barr visited her in a dream. Mom had a similar dream.â€ â€œYour great grandmother worshiped and your Mom worships the Egyptian cat goddess?â€ David asked in surprised voice. Rita Fay replied, â€œGreat grandmother was a strong Baptist, and mother is a practicing Catholic. Great Grandmother didnâ€™t, and Mom doesnâ€™t worship Barr.â€ However, in their opinion she is real.â€ David remarked, â€œRita Fay, I think that is sort of strange.â€ Rita laughed, and said, â€œI do too. So, donâ€™t tell anyone. David, did I ever tell you that my great grandfather had a shrunken head in his collection?â€ â€œNo, you never did. Do you or Robert Lee have it?â€ â€œMom thought it was terribly gross, so she wouldnâ€™t let us keep it. She gave it to Uncle Charlie to donate to the University in Waco.â€Robert then asked, â€œDo you remember your great grandparents?â€ Rita Fay replied, â€œI remember great grandmother. I was ten when she passed away. Robert Lee and I just loved her so much. I donâ€™t remember great grandfather. He died when Mom was still in high school.â€ David looked out the window of the Dairy Queen at the wind and rain, and said in a worried voice, â€œRita Fay, letâ€™s start back to College Station. I donâ€™t want to drive on FM 11 at night, when it is raining so hard.â€ Rita Fay smiled at her boy friend, and said, â€œI need to call my Grandmother before we start back.â€ She borrowed a quarter from David and went over to the pay phone to call. When she returned to their table, she said, â€œGrandmother went over to the neighborâ€™s for a minute, so I told my Aunt Lydia, that because of the rain and wind we going directly back to school.â€ David answered, â€œMaybe we should drive by your grandmotherâ€™s house to make sure she knows we are going back to school. Your aunt was drinking a lot before we went over to close the door.â€ Rita Fay unhappy that David noticed Lydiaâ€™s drinking said, â€œShe will tell her. I need to get back, so I can study for tomorrowâ€™s Chemistry test.â€ As David and Rita Fay drove south on FM 11, the rain came down in torrents. Pea sized hail and rain came down so fast on Davidâ€™s windshield, he had difficulty seeing the road. The song on the Waco radio station turned into nothing, but static. Rita Fay in a worried voice said, â€œWe canâ€™t see the road. Pull over to side of the road until the rain and hail lets up a bit.â€ David quickly answered, â€œI think I see a road side park ahead. We can park there until the storm passes.â€ When David had parked the car, Rita Fay moved over, and sat very close to him, and said, â€œAll this rain really frightens me.â€ David answered, â€œDonâ€™t be afraid. I will protect you,â€ He kissed her, but she broke the kiss, and said, â€œNot now. I am really nervous.â€ A disappointed David asked, â€œThen what shall we do until the rain stops?â€ â€œI know. You can help me study for my Chemistry exam,â€ she said, as she knelt in the seat, and reached into the back seat to get her chemistry notes. As she hung over the back of the front seat, David could not resist giving her shapely bottom a little pinch. The pinch earned him an indignant screech, and a pop on the top of his head with the chemistry book. Chapter 3: The Sheriff Searches for the Young Couple Charlie arrived at the Dairy Queen, and went inside to look for Rita Fay and David. He did not see them, so he walked over to the manager, Joe Stupak who was cleaning the soft serve machine, and said, â€œJoe, looks like this rain has washed all your customers away.â€ â€œIt sure has! What can I get you sheriff?â€ â€œBring me a Lone Star,â€ Charlie joked. â€œCharlie, you know I canâ€™t sell you a beer. If the Liquor Control Board didnâ€™t get me, the Baptist preacher would.â€ â€œIn that case, Iâ€™ll take a cup of coffee to go. Has my niece and her boy friend been in here this afternoon?â€ â€œYep, they sure was. They left about an hour ago, just before it started to rain real hard.â€ Charlie paid for his coffee, and drove over to bowling alley which was part of strip mall that was located on the site of the old Sunset Drive Inn Theater. There was only one car parked in front of the bowling alley. Since he was not sure of the type of the car David drove, Charlie once again got out of his car and into the rain and went in. He saw that they were not there. He asked a young male employee if a college age couple had been in earlier that afternoon. â€œRita Fay and David didnâ€™t come in today. I would remember a gal as pretty as your niece.â€ As Charlie walked out to his car in the rain, he thought, â€œEvery young dude in this town knows who my niece is. Itâ€™s a good thing she is not a wild child, or Robert and Janet would have more than they could handle.â€ Jolene met Charlie at her front door. â€œDid you find them,â€ she asked. â€œNo, I checked both the Dairy Queen and the bowling alley. They left the Dairy Queen just before the storm arrived and they didnâ€™t go to the bowling alley. I think they saw that the weather was getting rough, and went back to College Station,â€ replied Charlie. â€œI would have thought Rita Fay would have at least phoned to say they that they were going back to school.â€ At that moment, Lydia, Joleneâ€™s adult middle aged daughter walked into the living room with a tumbler of whiskey in her hand, and said, â€œUncle Charlie, you look like a drowned rat. Let me get you something to drink or you will catch a cold.â€ Jolene looked at her half wasted daughter, and asked, â€œLydia did Rita Fay call, when I was at the neighbors?â€ â€œYup, the little twit called to say that she and David were going back to school.â€ Exasperated, Jolene snapped, â€œLydia, why didnâ€™t you tell me? You know I was starting to worry.â€ As Lydia went back into the kitchen to refresh her drink, she said, â€œOh, I just forgot.â€ Charlie just shook his head, as his niece went through the swinging doors and into the kitchen. â€œJolene, I guess I better get going. I got a few telephone calls to make at the office. Then I am going to the steak house for supper, after I eat Iâ€™ll mosey on back to the Rocking H.â€ Jolene replied, â€œCome here for supper, and bring Dorothy. I donâ€™t want to eat supper alone with Lydia.â€ Chapter 4: Carried Away by the Flash Flood The storm passed to the south east. David tried the radio again. The disk jockey warned his listeners of flash flood conditions on FM 11. Rita Fay sat her chemistry notes aside. â€œLetâ€™s go back to Comanche Springs, and spend the night at Grandmother Joleneâ€™s. If we leave at about six, we can still make our morning classes.â€ David replied, â€œThatâ€™s a good idea. Letâ€™s do it. Do you think your grandmother will let us sleep in the same bed?â€ Rita Fay laughed, and said, â€œOnly in your dreams. So, big guy be prepared to sleep on the couch.â€ They drove out of the roadside park, and started north back to Comanche Springs. About a mile down the road, they came to a low water crossing. The water did not look deep, but just a few inches of fast moving water can wash a car away. When David drove into the water, the car stalled. Rita Fay cried out, â€œDavid back up. Get us out of here.â€ As David franticly turned the ignition key, he said, â€œI am trying, but the engine is flooded.â€ The car was carried by the water into nearby Bull Hide Creek. There it sank, until only the carâ€™s roof remained above the rushing water. David in a panic tried to open his door, but could not, because of the water pressure. â€œRita Fay pulled on Davidâ€™s arm, and said, â€œTake a deep breath. Iâ€™ll roll my window down. When the car fills with water, we can swim out and get on the roof of the car.â€ Rita Fay, a small woman easily swam through the open car window. David however, was almost too big to get through the window. If Rita Fay had not helped him, he would have drowned. When they both were finally on the room of the car, they looked around and saw that the water was far beyond the creek banks, and was flowing too fast for them to swim to shore. Rita Fay asked, â€œDavid, now what do we do?â€ He replied, â€œWe stay on the roof of the car until someone comes along and rescues us.â€ â€œWhat if they donâ€™t find us?â€ Rita Fay asked in a very worried voice. â€œThen we will just have to set on the roof of my car until the water goes down.â€ Chapter 5: Charlie and Dorothy Come to Dinner Charlie and Dorothy parked their cars in front of Joleneâ€™s house, and hurried through the rain to ring the door bell. Lydia let them in while holding a drink in her hand, and said, â€œMother is in the kitchen finishing supper. Be careful, she is really has a burr under her saddle.â€ â€œCharlie asked, â€œWhat is she spooked about now.â€ As Lydia refreshed her drink, she asked, â€œWould you like something to drink?â€ Lydia continued to explain, when Charlie and Dorothy declined her offer. â€œShe is on my case because of my drinking, and because I forgot to tell her, the little twit of a granddaughter was going back to college.â€ Charlie replied, â€œJolene has a point. I think you need to cut back on the booze or you will be back in the hospital.â€ Lydia pouting said, â€œYou always take my motherâ€™s side.â€ Dorothy not wanting to become involved in a family matter, handed Charlie her rain coat, and said, â€œIâ€™ll go help set the table.â€ Supper consisted of fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and green beans. For desert they had pecan pie with a dip of vanilla ice cream. After grace was said, and the food was being passed around, Dorothy commented, â€œJolene, this all looks so good. Thank you for inviting me.â€ Lydia replied, â€œMother was more than happy to invite you and Uncle Charlie. She just loves to play match maker, but she is feeling frustrated. Charlie, when are you going to make Dorothy an honest woman?â€ Jolene quickly said, â€œDorothy, donâ€™t mind my daughter. She has always had such a warped sense of humor.â€ Dorothy ignoring Lydiaâ€™s remark, asked, â€œHow is Robert doing? Charlie said that he is back in the VA hospital, because of his exposure to Agent Orange. Jolene replied, â€œJanet called yesterday to say that he would be there another week for some more tests.â€ Lydia took another sip of her drink remarked, â€œI wonder who Janet is fooling around with while my brother is in the hospital. Itâ€™s probably one of her nuclear engineering students.â€ Jolene angrily responded, â€œJanet would not be unfaithful to your brother. She certainly wouldnâ€™t have a relationship with one of her students!â€ Lydia smiled, and said, â€œI know you donâ€™t want to believe it, but she cheated with that banker Bernard Fouquet while Robert was in Vietnam. I never will understand why Silvia went ahead and married Bernard, after she found out what was going on. She probably thought she would become an old maid school teacher. However, you are right about her not cheating with a student. She wouldnâ€™t risk her precious career. So, she is probably sleeping with some old long haired professor.â€ At that moment, the telephone rang. â€œIâ€™ll get it.â€ Lydia said, as she quickly got up from the table. â€œHello Janet. We were just talking about you and my brother. How is he doing? Sorry to hear that he will be in the hospital for another week. Not to worry, I am sure you will find someone to keep your bed warm. Mother, Janet wants to talk to you.â€ â€œMom, I just called to see if Rita Fay and David are still there. â€œThey left earlier this afternoon because of the weather. They should be back on campus by now.â€ â€œRita Fay was going to call me when she got back to her sorority house, but she didnâ€™t call. So, I called her, but her roommate said that she was not back yet.â€ â€œJanet, donâ€™t worry. She and David probably stopped to eat supper. She will call you when she gets back to her room. Would you call me when you hear from her?â€ Lydia snickered, almost choked on her drink. â€œThey stopped for supper? David has that little twit in his apartment, and is screwing the hell out of her.â€ Jolene in an angry voice replied, â€œLidia that was uncalled for. Rita Fay is a good girl.â€ â€œMother, just tell me what she is good for. Donâ€™t be too shocked when you discover that you will be a great grandmother.â€ Jolene with a tear in her eye asked, â€œLydia, why do you hate Rita Fay?â€ I detest the little bitch, because she is Janetâ€™s and Bernardâ€™s bastard. â€œCharlie shouted, â€œThat is not true and you know it.â€ Lydia answered, â€œUncle Charlie, thatâ€™s what you say because you have always been in love with Janet. I told my dumb brother that Miss Lustgarten saw Janet and Bernard going into his apartment, but he didnâ€™t care! My dear brother is such a fool. I need another drink.â€ She got up from the table, refilled her whisky tumbler from a decanter on the side table and left the dining room.