A Whirlwind of RISK

 

The pickup’s tires rolled to a stop as four pair of eyes surveyed the scene before them.   At the bottom of the steep gravel road was a low-water bridge.   The stream had risen and water was rolling across the structure.   A warning sign marking the water level indicated that the depth was currently at three feet, flood stage.

A collective sigh came from the vehicle’s occupants.  Their route was blocked.

“Um, Trix,” Dan spoke.  His voice was level, soft and void of emotion.  “Just what does your GPS show now?”

Trixie face scrunched as she studied the handheld instrument.  “I don’t understand,” she replied.  “I could swear that we were on the right track.  This road has now disappeared.”

The foursome had been traveling along the forest service road for well over an hour, with Trixie giving the course directions.

“Do you mind if I look at it?”  Jim requested, reaching his arm toward the back seat.

Trixie handed the device to Jim, who promptly began scrolling through the various functions.

A groan escaped from Jim’s throat.  “I think I see the problem.   Do you realize what scale setting you are using?”

Trixie looked at her silent backseat companion with eyes wide.  “No, did I do something wrong?”

“It is set for a small scale map to show a large area.”  He hit the zoom-in function several times on their current location.  “There is a reason why this road does not appear.”  He handed the unit back to her waiting hands. “We are several hundred yards from the intended route.”

Honey leaned over to look at the display.  Their true position was now marked.  They were indeed a great distance from their intended destination.

“I am so sorry,” Trixie apologized as she worried her bottom lip.  “I was sure that we were headed directly toward the cache.  If I had a fancy, smart phone like you two, I could have bought the Geocache app.  That would have definitely helped.  I think it even has trip router maps on it as well.”

 

Jim and Honey sheepishly looked at their phones.  True to Trixie’s words, they would have been more than able to pinpoint their location.

 

“We can’t be too far from civilization.”  Jim noted.  “We have a fairly strong signal.  Although, it may be because we are at the top of a hill.’

Dan blew out a large breath, gripped the steering wheel tightly and wondered aloud, “I suppose I should turn around and head back to the main highway.  I don‘t care to try to cross that bridge.  Lord knows where we will end up.  At least I can have a better idea of where we are if I retrace our steps.”

Just after he finished his statement, the rain that had been following them for the past hour started again.  This time there appeared to be hail mixed in.  The bridge was now obscured from their sight due to the heavy downpour.

“The weather isn’t helping either.”  Jim observed. He turned on the truck’s radio.  “I think we should check the forecast.  This area may not be Tornado Alley, but they do get their fair share of severe weather.”

 

The four had volunteered to use their college spring break to deliver horses for Mr. Wheeler.  They had dropped the stallions off in central Florida and were now headed back home.  They had been taking their time exploring the southeastern states of the country. This was the first sign of trouble that they had encountered in what otherwise had been a pleasant trip.

Dan checked the side mirrors and craned his head to peer at what might be along the driver’s side of the road.  “There is no way I can turn around.  The trailer is going to be a hindrance, empty or not.  And if you haven’t noticed, this road is starting to turn into mud.”

Trixie flopped back in her seat, dejected.  “This is my fault,” she wailed. If I wasn’t so determined to get that Geocache….”

“It’s OK,” Honey pattered her arm to comfort.  “We were both anxious to find it.  It would have fulfilled one of our requirements for our Orienteering class.”

“But, we already had plenty of out-of-state finds to meet the requirement, just from this trip alone,” Trixie reminded her best friend.  “I wish I could just learn to not be so narrow focused.” 

Jim interrupted their conversation.  “Dan, if you are going to turn around, now would be the best time.  It looks like the water is beginning to pool, and I don’t like the looks of those clouds.”  Jim had been scanning for radio channels, attempting to find a weather broadcast.  Multiple weather alerts were being given.  Jim shook his head.  “It would help if we had a better idea of where we were.”  He winced as soon as the remark came from his mouth.  “Sorry Trixie,” he apologized.


Trixie glumly nodded her acceptance.

Jim turned his attention to his phone and began searching for weather information.

“I think I saw a cabin or shack not too far behind us.  We passed it just as we started down the first hill.  I’ll try to turn around there.”  Dan commented.   “I only hope we don’t meet someone as we do.”
Dan shifted into reverse and slowly started backing, keeping a careful eye on both side mirrors.  The rearview window and mirror were useless.  The trailer blocked the view directly behind.

The rain continued; thunder and lightening added to the storm.

Honey and Trixie held hands in the back seat of the cab, saying a silent prayer that Dan would successfully back the rig.  Jim took off his seat belt so that he could turn and get a better view from the passenger window; alert for obstructions or any vehicle that may approach from behind along the long, winding, narrow road.

After what seemed like forever, a structure came into view.  Dan backed past it, in anticipation that there would be a drive to pull into.  A circular drive appeared.  He continued backing until he was able to verify that there was indeed a pull through.  

 

After putting the transmission into forward, he cautiously pulled onto the driveway, stopping just in front of a small, cottage-type structure. It was not much more than twenty feet long by, perhaps, fifteen feet deep and had a porch running across the front.  From what they could tell, there was one door and maybe a window on, at least, the two sides they could see.  It looked like a building that came as a kit from a home improvement store.

 

“The clubhouse is larger than that,” Honey declared.

 

Dan scrutinized the building, “Any old port in the storm, right?” 

 

Jim checked his phone, shook his head in irritation and announced, “I’m going to try to get a better signal back on the road.  It is now very spotty.  You would think it would get better as we went uphill.”  He gave Dan a direct look.  “I’m a little worried about the weather.  Why don’t you three work together to unhitch the trailer, and I’ll be back to help.”

 

As Jim sloshed off in the light rain, Dan started unhooking the trailer.  He first released the safety chain. Next, he lifted the hitch lock. 

 

While he was busy with the uncoupling, Trixie climbed into the back of the truck and began handing Honey their supplies and personal articles from the truck bed through the opening made by the camper topper’s back hatch.

 

Honey shivered as the cold, spring rain danced on her face.  She ignored the discomfort in order to travel back and forth lining the provisions along the shelter of the shack’s small overhanging porch.

 

A bolt of lightning hit nearby, while simultaneously a very loud BOOOM of thunder resonated. They all gave a startled jump. 

 

Dan let out a cry and a curse.

 

The trailer’s jack system fell, trapping the palm of Dan’s hand between trailer coupler and the receiver hitch of the truck.  He let out a muffled groan as he grimaced in pain.

 

Honey hurried over to see what was distressing him so much.

 

Trixie, who was partially out of the back of the truck, started from the thunder’s percussion and Dan’s outburst.  She was just a body’s length from Dan. She knocked the safety latch loose on the topper’s hatch, allowing the topper door to slam down on the side of her head.

 

Now Honey had two accident victims to care for.

 

Trixie waved Honey off and motioned her to tend to Dan.

 

As Honey bravely checked the injury on Dan’s palm, Trixie extracted herself from between the hatch and the tailgate. She sat on the truck’s bumper to face the two, rubbing the side of her head.  A knot would surely begin forming above her temple.

 

Honey gently turned Dan’s hand to check both sides.  She pursed her lips, put on a brave face, all the while willing herself to not faint. 

 

Dan pulled his injured appendage back and held it to his chest.  “I think we have more pressing matters to attend to.”  He gestured toward the sky with his uninjured hand. Dark clouds could be seen through the tree limbs.

 

Jim arrived back from his scouting.  He surveyed the scene and declared that they needed to seek shelter immediately.  As if on cue, it began to rain very heavily and the wind picked up dramatically.

 

He had watched the weather radar and, unless his weather app was wrong, they were in danger for some turbulent weather activity.

 

They assembled on the small porch of the cabin.  A padlock stood between them and possible safety.

 

Dan nodded toward the horse trailer. “Jim, go look in the front storage compartment.  I don’t think it is locked.  There should be a pair of bolt cutters.”

 

Jim pulled his jacket over his head and slogged to the trailer.  He found the tool and was back on the porch in a flash.  Despite his effort to the contrary, he was soaked through

 

Grasping the bolt cutters, Dan positioned them on the shackle of the lock and clamped down.  He jerked back in pain, holding his injured hand to his chest.  “I forgot,” he said between clinched teeth.

 

Jim claimed the tool and completed the task, not without a few unsuccessful tries.

 

Before opening the door, Jim put out an arm to hold the others back.  He wanted to take the first look into the small cabin to make sure that it was safe.  He turned the knob and peered in.

 

After a moment or two, he stepped inside, motioning the others in.  The windows and open door allowed some illumination.  Even with the fading light of day and the dimness from the storm, they were able to see their new surroundings.

 

An immediate perusal revealed that the furnishings were sparse save for two futon couches, separated by a small end table and a very large metal picnic table in the middle.  There wasn’t much more. A row of cabinets and counter top lined the back wall.

 

As quickly as they could, they tossed their bags into the compact space and shut the door against the elements. There was a loud roaring off in the distance that was becoming louder.

 

“How in the world did they get that in here?” wondered Trixie as she examined the large, heavy furnishing.  “There is no way they could get that through the door.”

 

“Who cares?”  Dan answered brusquely.  “You two get under it, now.  I don’t think now is time to investigate.”

 

The wind had increased considerably, and the windows where now rattling. The fury of the storm was upon them.

 

Dan and Jim guided the girls under the sturdy metal table. 

 

“Just stay under there, no matter what,” Jim cautioned.

 

Trixie called out from her covered position, “You’re getting under here, too.”

 

“There’s not enough room.” Jim countered.

 

“Get under here, NOW, MISTER!”  Honey insisted, her bravado courtesy of the Orienteering class that she and Trixie were taking through the college’s ROTC department.  Apparently, the Sergeant made an impression on both girls.   “Please?” she added with a weak smile and pleading eyes. 

 

A deafening roar didn’t give the gentlemen time argue or to think twice.  The girls huddled together in the middle as Dan and Jim scooted in on either side, almost doubled over.  It was not a comfortable position for either.  They each put an arm around the two girls, locking them in the middle.

 

The noise: the rumbling, the howling wind, the rattling of the windows, the pounding hail, and the roof sounding as if it was being lifted off… lasted less than a minute.  However, it seemed like much longer.

 

Then, it becomes quiet.  Very quiet.  There wasn’t a sound to be heard outside.

 

“Are we dead?” squeaked Trixie, her eyes tightly closed.  She and Honey still had their arms wrapped around each other.

 

“No, I don’t think so anyway,” Dan replied.  “I expected Heaven to look a bit different if we are.”  He added, tongue in cheek in an attempt to add a bit of levity to their situation.

 

One by one they extracted themselves from under the table.  The boys gave the girls a hand and pulled them into a standing position.

 

“I think we just experienced our first tornado,” Jim remarked.

 

Honey nodded in agreement.  “First and only, let’s hope.”

 

Jim went to the door and placed a hand on the knob.  “I’m reluctant to look out. I’m afraid of what we might see.”

 

Holding his damaged hand to his body, Dan nodded in agreement. “It sounds like the storm has passed.  I hope we can drive out of here.”

 

Jim opened the door and peered out.

 

“WOW!” He exclaimed as he opened the door fully so the others could also survey the damage.

 

Limbs were down everywhere.  A very large one was lying just behind the trailer.  A smaller one was across the opposite end of the drive.  That would have to be removed before they would be able to drive away.

 

Honey grabbed one of the supporting posts for the cabin and stood on her tiptoes to attempt to peer at the truck.  “There is definitely some hail damage. But, it would still be drivable, right?”

 

Dan put his free arm around her and squeezed his assurance.  “Yes, as long as the windshield isn’t busted through, we can drive it.”

 

As luck would have it, there were some small pock marks in the glass, but they would be able to get home.

 

Trixie, who was silent during this time, wrapped her arms around herself, closed her eyes and mumbled a prayer of thanks.

 

Jim addressed the others, “I’m going to go back to the spot where I was able to get reception and see if I can get a weather update.  We might not be able to leave this afternoon, but I do want to know if we are going to be in for more of the same later.”

 

Honey gave her adopted brother a pat for good luck.  “I need to get a better look at Dan’s hand.  I can do that while you are gone.”  She lifted Trixie’s bangs from her face.  “We need to keep an eye on Trixie’s bump.  She didn’t break the skin, but she does have a nice goose egg to show for it.”

 

“And, I thought Brian was the one who was going to be a doctor,” Dan teased.  “I knew those Red Cross volunteer classes would come in handy.  I just never imagined that we would need them on ourselves.”

 

Once inside, Honey directed her two “patients” to sit on one of the futons.  She then opened the blinds on the few windows in order to allow more light to enter.  Next, she reached into her bag and withdrew a flashlight and took Dan’s hand into hers.

 

There was bruising on both the bottom and top of the wrist, just below the palm.  A small circle on the bottom of the wrist indicated where the sharp, metallic coupling of the trailer fell.  “Well, I don’t think anything is broken,” she observed.  “You did break the skin. The bleeding stopped. I don’t think you are going to need stitches.  We do need to make sure that we keep it safe from infection.” 

 

Trixie smiled at her best friend as she watched her in action.   When they first met, Honey would have fainted at the thought of seeing blood.  She had come a long way over the years, indeed.

 

“Does this hurt?”  Honey asked as she touched the area that appeared most damaged.

 

Dan flinched and uttered an expletive.  “Yes, very much so.”  He tensed up.  “Now I know how Jesus felt when they speared Him in the wrist.”

 

Trixie dug in her purse and handed a bottle of hand sanitizer to Honey.  “This should work in a pinch.  There is rubbing alcohol in that.”

 

She sat on the couch, leaned back and half closed her eyes as she watched nurse with patient.

 

Dan cursed and flinched again as Honey applied a very generous amount of the gel to both sides of his hand.

 

“Just a minute,” Dan requested as he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and took out a five dollar bill, explaining… “This should take care of the past hour.”

 

  Confused, Honey asked why. 

 

“The profanity fine?  The Clubhouse Treasury?  The Bob-White Code of Ethics.”


“Oh,” Honey nodded as she put Dan’s fine for his outbursts in her jean’s back pocket.  “I’ll give this to Mart at the next meeting of the Bob-Whites.”

Honey turned her attention to Trixie, who seemed fast asleep.  This was the last thing someone needed to do with a head injury.

 

“Trixie?”  Honey prodded, gently shaking her best friend.  “Trixie, come on.  You know you’re not supposed to fall asleep so soon after hitting your head like that.”

 

At that moment, the door to the tiny cabin swung open, and Jim stepped inside to report what he had discovered during his walk.

 

“What’s wrong?”  He questioned as he knelt down and touched Trixie’s right cheek.  Trix? Are you awake?”

 

“She closed her eyes as if she were going to rest, and now I can’t seem to wake her,” Honey worried.  “With that lump on her head, I’m concerned about a concussion.”

 

Dan sat by silently, wishing to see her shining blues eyes open.

 

Trixie furrowed her brow and blinked a few times.

 

“Did I fall asleep?” she sat up with a start.

 

She bolted up and began looking around the room as if she were searching for some lost article.

 

Dropping down on the floor, she looked under the couch as well as the table.

 

“Here boy,” she called.  She whistled and snapped her fingers.  “Where are you?”  She whistled again.

 

“Who are you looking for?”  Dan asked concernedly.  He turned and whispered to Jim and Honey as they sat dumfounded in silence, staring at Trixie’s strange display.  “Are we supposed to play along?”…”Slap her?”…  “Throw water on her?”…  “What do we do?”

 

Trixie stood and put her hands on her hips and huffed, “Ok, Toto.  If you don’t come to me now, Miss Gulch is going to catch you and take you away.” She stomped her foot out of frustration.

 

Jim reached out and tenderly took Trixie’s arm. “Do you need help in finding your lost…um… dog?”  He volunteered awkwardly.

 

“Yes, if you don’t mind.” Trixie stopped and blinked as if she were trying to place his name.  “Are you a new hired hand or a relative of Uncle Henry and Auntie Em?  You look familiar.”

 

Honey gasped in shock and helped Jim guide Trixie back to a seated position.

 

“Why don’t you have a seat and we will look for…. Toto.”  Honey suggested. 

 

Trixie sat, disconsolately, and rushed her thanks before yawning and closing her eyes.

 

Brushing the hair away from the side of Trixie’s head, exposing the very large and purple knot that had now formed, Honey shook her head in worry.  “She had been normal until now.  And, now, this.”

 

“Hopefully, it is just temporary.”  Jim wished.

 

Jim took out his phone but then remembered that they had no reception in the cabin.  “What IS temporary is the break in the storm.  There is another line headed this way, although it doesn’t appear to be as severe.  I don’t think we should try to leave until morning.  It is getting dark, and we have no idea what shape the road going back to the highway is in.”

 

Dan agreed.  “We should have enough provisions to last through the night, at least.”

 

At that moment, Trixie opened her eyes again; this time there was no look of confusion.  “What did I miss?” she asked.  “Was I asleep? Why are you looking at me like that?”

 

“No reason,” Honey said, glad to see her friend was back in her right mind.  “Right, boys?” she encouraged them to agree with her.

 

Trixie wanted to believe her but felt a bit conscientious despite their insistence that nothing was wrong.

 

Jim opened one of the bags and began placing the contents on the picnic table as he announced, “We have several bottles of water, some beef jerky, cereal bars, trail mix…” 

 

“See if you have anything for pain,” Dan requested as he looked down at his wrist.

 

Trixie dug through her purse. “Oh, I may have something,” She offered.

 

Soon, there was a line of bottles that resembled a pharmacy shelf on the small end table near where she was seated.  Honey was aware of the daily ritual of prescription medications that Trixie went through.  Dan and Jim could only stare in wonder.  The events of recent months had taken a toll on Trixie’s emotional and physical well being.

 

“Let’s see….” she said as she looked at each one.  “Oh, here, this should be safe.”

 

Dan took the bottle skeptically, held it out, turning it so that he could read the label.

 

Trixie brushed off his caution, “Don’t worry.  It is over the counter.  There is an analgesic in it.”

 

Dan looked up in shock.   “It’s for ‘girly problems.’”  He protested as he held the bottle of Midol an arm’s length away from himself as if it were garlic to a vampire. 

 

Trixie determinedly pushed the bottle toward him.  “It will help the pain and swelling,” she insisted.

 

Dan opened the bottle and took out two of the pills.  “Two?”  He asked to confirm the dosage. Honey and Trixie both acknowledged his assumption.

 

With a sigh of resignation, he grabbed one of the bottles of water nearby, took off the lid, placed the pills into his mouth and took a long drink to wash down the tablets.

 

“There now.  See. Everything is OK.”  Trixie observed smugly.

 

“As long as there are no weird side effects,” Dan huffed, a bit embarrassed.

 

Trixie gave him a ‘pffffft’ and a dismissive wave.  “You are worrying about nothing.   The worst that can happen is your boobs will grow and your privates will fall off.” 

 

Dan slammed the bottle on the table in shock.

 

Jim turned to look outside the nearest window to keep from busting out in laughter.

 

Suppressing a giggle, Honey patted him on his good arm.  “She’s teasing. You’ll be fine.”

 

He gave a mock glare to Trixie.  “Thank you, Honey.  I knew I could count on you,” he acknowledged with a sniff.

 

With the rumble of thunder nearby and the waning light, Dan wanted to get one more look outside before they battened down the hatches for what was sure to be a bumpy night.  He and Jim walked the small front yard and examined the damage to the truck as well as the trailer.  The girls watched from the porch. Their male traveling companions stopped occasionally to point at and discuss their plan to remove the falling limbs in order for them to make their exit, hopefully, the following morning.

 

They approached the porch, shaking the rain from their soaked hair.

 

“It is going to take a bit of work and muscle to get out.  I think we should leave the trailer behind.  We can maneuver a lot better without it.  We will leave a note explaining to the owner of the property why it was left here along with some compensation for the broken lock and use of their cabin,” Jim announced.

 

Dan held up his cell phone. “We may not have a signal, but I can charge our phones from the truck.  We have enough gasoline to let it run for a bit.” He collected the electronic devices and proceeded to start the engine to help boost the battery strengths.

 

He joined the others in the shelter.  “I left it running.  I think it will be all right to leave it alone for a few minutes.  It is a good thing there is an extra charger connection for the back seat.  I’ll take care of mine last since all it does is make phone calls and texts. We will need your smart phones to help keep an eye on the weather and navigate out of this mess in the morning.”

 

“That was good thinking,” Jim commended as he tossed Dan a towel that the girls had pulled from their luggage to dry off with. 

 

They went through the rest of their bags and provisions, gathering flashlights and a few odds and ends.

 

Dan was able to fully charge two of the phones before he shut down the motor to save fuel.  His and Trixie’s both had about half a charge in them.

 

The sun was setting, and it brought a more pronounced sense of dread and eeriness to their situation. 

 

Jim ventured out once more and came back to report that another line of activity was about thirty minutes away.

 

“I wish there were some way to board the windows,” Honey yearned as she peered out.

 

Dan joined her vigil. “I think the worst has passed over.  At least I hope so anyway.”

 

Trixie yawned and complained, “I’m having a hard time staying awake.”  She absentmindedly touched the side of her head. 

 

“At least we have something comfortable to sit on,” Honey pointed out. She suppressed a yawn.  “I think your yawns are catching, Trixie.” 

 

“The girls can take one futon and Dan and I can take the other,” Jim suggested.  “They do fold out to make a bed.”  He stretched his arms out as if to measure.  “We can move the table against the far wall.”

 

“Speaking of table,” Trixie reminded them, “Just how do you suppose they managed to get it in here?”

 

Dan held up a finger.  “Elementary, my dear Belden.  They placed the table in first and built the shed around it.”

 

“I think you’re right,” Jim concurred.

 

“On second thought, I think I need to sleep sitting up, or in a more upright position,” Trixie decided.

 

Honey nodded.  “Yes, we need to keep an eye on your head and…”  She leaned to look at Dan’s wrist.  “…I can’t tell if this is looking better, or not.”

 

“It feels a bit better, but that is probably because of the feminine pain pills you had me popping earlier,” Dan added with an exaggerated lisp and a wink.

 

They stilled to listen as a hard rain began to fall.  There was wind but not like they had experienced earlier. 

 

“So, it is settled,” Jim surmised.  “We stay on the couches, keep an eye on the injured and pray that tomorrow morning comes and we are able to leave.”

 

The nods from the other three showed agreement to the plan, and they began calling for their ‘spot’ for the remainder of the night.

 

“I hate to bring this up now,” Honey confessed, “But I really need to use the restroom, and I don’t see a little girls’ room in this small shack.”

 

Jim opened the door.  “See that little building?”  He pointed as he indicated the presence of an outbuilding to the side of the yard.

 

“An outhouse?”  Honey frowned.

 

Trixie pushed past and sprinted toward the small privy, calling out, “I’ve got first dibs!”

 

Changing her mind, Honey answered, “I claim second.” Then, she, too, headed off the porch in the same manner as Trixie had exited.

 

“I guess that leaves you and me to be third and fourth?”  Dan asked Jim with a smirk.

 

Once they were all back in the cabin, darkness quickly fell. Even with the curtains open, it was difficult to see inside their shelter.

 

Honey produced her flash light.  Jim and Trixie were able to quickly find theirs from amongst their possessions.  Dan sat - a source of light noticeably absent from his hands. 

 

“What happened to your flashlight?” Trixie questioned, shining her light in his face. The Bob-Whites had each purchased a multi-LED bulb flashlight from the $5 Shop in Branson while on their trip the past summer.

 

Pushing her arm away and blinking from the blinding illumination, Dan replied, “It is back in New York.”

 

 “Did you forget it?” Trixie quizzed, focusing the beam into his eyes as if she were giving him the Third Degree.

 

Dan grabbed her arm and took the light away this time.  “No, I didn’t exactly forget it.  It is with my uniform. Now, can you keep this without blinding me?” He then politely handed it back.  

 

Trixie held it to her own face.  “Yes!” she sniggered.

 

With all the excitement, none of them felt hungry.  They decided to save their food supply until morning.

 

After a final decision on their sleeping arrangements, Dan took the corner of one futon, while Honey took the other.

 

Jim made himself comfortable on the end of the second couch, allowing Trixie to stretch out and lay her head on his shoulder.  Within a few minutes she was, once again, asleep. They agreed that she would need to be checked periodically during the night to ensure that her head injury had not gotten worse.

 

“So,” Jim whispered.  The line up of pills that Trixie took from her bag had not gone without notice.  “How long has she been on all that medication?”

 

Honey sat quiet, as if reluctant to answer.

 

“Don’t worry. This is safe with me,” Dan assured from his spot.  “We are Bob-White Family, right?”

 

Honey took a few additional moments to gather her thoughts before giving her reply.  “She has been taking the prescriptions since Christmas break.”  She wiped a tear from her cheek.  “Since just after the….the…. ‘Incident.’”

 

Honey continued, “You know about the trouble sleeping and the nightmares.  There was also the anxiety. Mrs. Belden took her to a doctor to get some type of help.  I don’t know that she took her to their regular physician.  Trixie was too self-conscious over the entire matter.”

 

“I was hoping that by now, spring break, this trip would help take her mind off of it some,” Jim confessed.

 

Dan shook his head.  “It may be a long while before she is ‘normal’ again,” he said. He made imaginary quotation marks with his good hand.

 

“It may never end,” Honey reluctantly admitted. “We know the hearing will start just before the semester ends.  They keep finding witnesses, complaints from other colleges.  I’m so glad that Greg came clean.  That helped.”

 

At the mention of Greg’s name, both Dan and Jim bristled.  His confession to unwittingly aiding Robert had become a sore subject, especially for Dan.  It was, now, rare that Dan acknowledged his former suitemate.  The fact that Greg insisted on testifying against the accused in court had done little to smooth things over.

 

“Trixie has actually been nicer to him than I have,” Honey admitted.  Honey had suspected that Trixie was also keeping so much more bottled up, hidden from those around her.  It was almost spooky the way she would hold some things in denial.

 

Jim caressed Trixie’s shoulder and let out a whisper, “I’ll be glad when the trial is over with and we can leave it in the past.”  He reached for one of Trixie’s hand and kissed it.  “This girl, especially.”

 

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

 

The sound of birds twittering woke them the next morning.  The sun was out, and now it was time to get a full view of the storm’s damage.

 

After eating cereal bars and washing them down with bottled water, they were ready to dig their way out, if need be.

 

The swelling from the knot on Trixie’s head had gone down, somewhat.  It had also turned a very dark shade of purple.  “Di would love the color,” Dan jested.

 

Dan’s hand was still tender, but he would be able to use it.

 

Jim left a note, explaining their use of the cabin and the presence of the horse trailer.  He gave his and the Wheeler’s contact information.  He assured the owners that they would be compensated for the storage and the replacement of the lock that had been cut.

 

After checking for additional downed limbs and possible damage to the truck, they started their clean up efforts.

 

Dan first paused to remove a bill from this wallet and handed it to Honey.  “Advanced profanity,” he explained.

 

Jim followed suit and produced a larger bill. “Here, this should cover all of us.”  The job before them could prove to be a laborious one.

 

Honey gladly accepted the currency.  “Who would have thought we used such language?” she giggled.

 

It was a group effort, but they managed to move the limbs that were blocking the path out of the drive and onto the road.  They did a quick check of the cabin to make sure they weren’t leaving any personal possessions behind and loaded the truck with their belongings.

 

Once they were on the road, Jim turned on his phone and was able to help guide them back to the main highway and toward home.

 

As they headed for civilization, Honey noticed Trixie staring out the window, lost in thought.  She caught Dan’s reflection in the rearview mirror.  They locked eyes, both concerned.  The unspoken message they conveyed was clear.  Their friend would need them in the weeks to come.

 

 

 

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

 

End notes, comments and acknowledgements

 

 

This occurs just months after “The Incident.”  

 

Confused?  You’ll need to read through my previous attempts at fan-fiction in order to get caught up.  That would also explain the pharmacy of pills that Trixie is currently taking. Sorry about punishing you and making you go back and read.  {{{VEG}}}

 

They can be found at: http://ozarksportsgal.com/fanfiction.html

 

Will Trixie recover?  Will Robert be convicted?  Why didn’t I include Brian, Di and Mart? 

 

They had previous commitments and couldn’t go. The other questions can be answered in the previously mentioned stories or future stories that may, eventually, see the light of day.

 

There is a CHRISTmas Risk in the works.  At the rate I am going, it could be July before I get it finished.  (Or longer)

 

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

 

HUGE thanks to Lisa Morris for editing.  I don’t do commas.  She did an awesome job.

Thank you.  I owe you mega-much.

 

I also appreciate her encouragement along the way.  She is AWESOME.

 

Amber S did a quick read to make sure that things flowed.  You are tops!

 

Lindsay answered my question about stallions.  J

 

If you are still reading, I appreciate your taking the time to read my story.  It means a lot.

 

If you are owner or have the rights to Trixie and her fiends, please don’t sue me.  I make no money from these attempts at writing. Who would pay for them anyway?  *snirt*

 

All grammatical and comma type errors in the end notes and the body of the story are my own.

 

Oh, and I kept wanting to include the phrase, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”   I just couldn’t find the right spot.