22 February 2005, 03:27 AMBrainSparks
I think the short story idea is excellent! Let us move on now and forget all the bloodshed that has occured here this last week since that Mixed up nut guy threw gasoline on the fire. The Nautalis has been scuttled, the mixedsignals46 has left, and we have had light shed on those that would control our freedom if given the chance. Enough is enough. Now it's time to get back to the reason for this site. Ray Bradbury, the love of his craft, and an exchange of healthy ideas. Dandelion, you are the best choice for moderator, as you have already proven to so many this week. Now, I would like to submit a short story for everyones enjoyment that is my own. Who knows, Ray might even read it, and find it entertaining.
I call it "The Blizzard". It's about a cold, dark night in "Greenville" Illinois, that happened during the winter of 1967. Without any further adue, here goes...
Bobby Adams watched nervously, as the snow and hail outside pelted his bedroom window. Winter had hit Greenville with a vengeance this year. Storm, after storm, had battered the small town located along the shores of Lake Michigan. Tonight drifts of up to twelve feet were being reported by the national weather service. Severe winter storm warnings were in place for the entire mid-west, and after bing updated to a blizzard, a state of emergency had been declared. The snow continued to pick up in intensity, and Tommy's mother wasn't home yet. It was ten o'clock at night now, and she had told her son she would be back by eight-thirty.
All across town, the streets were quickly becoming impassable. The storm was snowing them over, faster then the city plows could clear them. Even some of the enormous city plows ahd become stuck, causing their crews to abandon them until they could be pulled out by the much larger tractors. Before doing so, their crews would leave its parking lights on, in an attempt to mark the disabled trucks location. This created an eerie effect, as their bright orange markers glowed through the whiteout.
Downtown, the stores were closing early, sending their employee's home for the night.
Traffic had almost ceased on Main Street, as all the signal lights rapidly became snowed over, making any traffic control impossible.
Workers franticly swept the snow off their car windows in a last minute effort to outrun the storm. Only the glow of twinkling Christmas light decorations inside the many store windows, showed through their empty and otherwise darkened interiors.
Mrs. Adams stood waiting at the darkened street corner for the bus to come. The roads were deserted except for the piling snow, and the bus was late. She had lost all track of time doing some last minute Christmas shopping. Only afterward, did she realize that the storm was turning into more than anyone had expected. The next bus never came, instead it lay silent and abandoned, the victim of an impassable snowdrift across town; its driver and passengers being forced to seek shelter inside a nearby A&P store.
Deserted, stuck cars, littered the roadsides everywhere, after their owners had been forced to abandonded them in the continuously deepening snow.
Against her better judgement, Mrs. Adams had decided to try and walk home through the brutal storm. She felt she had no choice, because her son was home alone and she needed to get to him. She carried a brown paper bag of groceries under each arm.The street was quickly disappearing under the heavy snow, as she trudged her way along the curb of Grand Avenue toward her home.
After making it only a block down the road, she began to realize that the snow was becoming to deep to walk in now. The paper of her grocery bags was becoming wet too, and would start tearing soon. She held her cold hands over their bottoms, in an attempt to stop the inevitible; but they soon began to rip, spilling their contents out onto the snow covered pavement below her.
This trail of canned goods and packaged foods, marked her progress down the icy street. After trying to retrive the dropped items, she had been forced to give up the attempt, realizing saving her life was the priority now. The heavy wool coat she wore no longer kept her warm either, as the ferocious wind gusts blew it open, again, and again.
Mrs. Adams glasses had also frozen to her face, and their iced over lenses made it almost impossible to see. The snow had now become close to chest deep, and the spilled food that trailed behind her had almost all disappeared under the storm's artic blanket.
On the television, the weatherman was busy announcing the storm's growing intensity, and saying, "it was the worst snowstorm in fifty years". People werre being lost to the merciless cold all across the mid-west, and Chicago was getting slammed the worst. Killer snow drifts, that had buried complete houses, were now being reported. Tommy watched the live storm coverage on channel nine news, causing him to become more, and more worried, about his now very late mother whom was still not home. The blizzard that stung Mrs. Adam's face with its sharp ice and cold snow, now began pulling her down into its deep drifts. Her legs were starting to give out, as she began surrendering to the storm's viciousness. 'I'm going to die out here,' she thought.
Mrs. Adam's husband had passed away two years before from a heart attack, leaving her sole provider for their then, eight year old son. It had been a difficult battle, but she had always managed no matter what came her way. Tonight was different, tonight she couldn't make it anymore, as she laid down into the deep, white snow, and prepared to die.
"Mrs.Adams! Mrs. Adams, can you hear me?" A loud voice asked, somewhere through the howling wind.
Looking up with her last bit of strength, Mrs. Adams saw her neighbor Mr. Bixby standing over her. He was dressed in a parka, that made him look like an Eskimo. Snowflakes, and hail, clung to his beard and eyebrows, giving him the image of a much older man; even though his haircolor was normally black, and he was only in his middle forties. Mrs. Adams had been sobbing at the time she heard his voice, thinking all was lost.
"My hands and legs are very worn out, and I'm very cold," she replied through sobs.
"Well, just give me your arm, and we'll try to make it through this God awful storm together," he said.
Mr. Bixby then reached under the woman's arm and helped her to her feet once again, with some amount of difficulty.
"That a girl, he said. We only have about three blocks to go. We can make it if we try," he said, in an attempt to comfort her.
"I was giving up before you came along, Mrs. Adams told the man. I just couldn't go any further."
"Well, that's about what anyone would do in a storm like this. I was starting to lose my way too, he said, then I saw you laying here and that kept me going this far."
"I couldn't tell north from south anymore in this damn snow," he said, as his teeth chattered together.
"I can't feel my fingers anymore,"Mrs. Adams told the man.
"Well lets get you home and see if we can get some warmth back into those digits, he instructed her, and keep telling yourself it's near to home, and keep going!"
"I'll try Mr. Bixby, I'll try."
Together, the two lone figures struggled through the punishing ice and wind. What was only three blocks away, felt like a hundred miles now. Mrs. Adams strained every muscle in her body as she forced herself through the high drifts toward Jackson Street and her house again. She could feel Mr. Bixby's arm under hers, and this gave her more strength inside just knowing someone else was with her. The snow was blowing so hard now, that she could hardly see Mr.Bixby, as her vision kept fading in and out in the blinding snow that continued to assulted her face.
"One more block, is all we got! Sang Mr. Bixby, We're going to make it by golly, or my name isn't Ollie!" Oliver Bixby declared, sounding as confident as possible under the dire circumstances.
"You just keep your legs moving Mrs. Adams because if you let them stop, mine might too; then that old dog of mine is going to have to get his own meals from now on," he said, and then forced a weak laugh out.
Now dependent on each other, the freezing neighbors continued struggling through the storm clinging to one another. They pushed their way toward the outline of houses that were quickly coming into view. The bright lights from their windows, appeared, and then disappeared as the artic wind randomly parted the snow that blew with all the fury of Hell. Thick pewter gray clouds slowly slid across the blackened winter sky, as the bright twinkling stars strobed in the December heavens through their occasional brief openings. The extreme coldness cut through the man and woman's bodies like a thousand dull knifes.
"We're almost there now, I can see your son looking out the front window!" Mr. Bixby said, in a coaching tone.
Mr. Bixby drew on the last bit of his strength as he pushed Mrs. Adams and himself toward her front porch. Just then Tommy opened the door, causing a flood of warm yellow illumination to sweep across the bluish drifting snow.
"Mom! You're finally home!" Tommy shouted, sounding very grateful and excited now.
"Help me get your poor mother inside Tommy, she's very, very cold."
Tommy and Mr. Bixby then pulled the half frozen woman up the stairs, and inside the house, while the family cat wound herself around the cold woman's ankles doing a welcome dance that only a cat understands, all the time meowing.
Mrs Adams glasses were completely fogged over and she could not yet see her way. Tommy ran upstairs and after a minute or so, reappeared with an electric blanket and a hair dryer. After plugging the hair dryer in, he turned it on and aimed it at his now violently shivering mother.
"I lost all our groceries in the snow, she said through sobs, I need to go back and get them."
"You need to thaw out, is what you need to do first! Mr. Bixby said, and then smiled. We can go back tomorrow, weather permitting, and try to dig them up. Right now, you need to try and get the blood flowing back through your limbs and take it easy for awhile. Get some rest tonight too. Tommy call me if you need anything alright?"
"I will Mr. Bixby, and thanks for saving my mother's life," the boy said, as his eyes welled up with tears.
"I'm not quite sure, who saved who, the man replied. I better get home and check on that big wimp of a dog of mine. He'll start crying and howling if I don't feed him his supper soon. Keep your mother warm and remember to call me if you need anything, anything at all."
"I will Mr. Bixby, I promise. And then, in his most sincere voice, Tommy added, God bless you too!"
A polar blast of wind gushed throughout the house as Mr. Bixby opened the front door and then closed it, leaving back out into the winter night. Tommy watched out the window, as Mr. Bixby plodded through the snow toward his house directly across the street. He could see the man having a hard time making his way the short distance through the high drifts of powdered ice. After about five minutes, Mr. Bixby reached his porch, climbed the stairs, and after kicking the deep snow away from the bottom of his front door, entered his house. Tommy could see the lights come on and the man's dog wagging its tail and jumping up on Mr. Bixby through the neighbor's front window.
Tommy then returned to his mother and after plugging the electric blanket in, covered her with it, and tucked her in. Mrs. Adams told her son how she had missed her bus and tried walking home in the storm. She also told him how if Mr. Bixby hadn't happened along, she would have surely perished in the cold and ice. "First thing tomorrow morning, I want you to go over and check on him, she told Tommy. We have to do something real nice for him to show how grateful we are."
Tommy agreed and then helped his mother to bed. That night the Adams slept a deep sleep, under the warmth of their covers.
It was fifteen-to-three in the morning when Mr. Bixby awoke from an even deeper sleep.
"Bonnie is that you?" He asked being only half awake, then he remembered that his wife Bonnie had died some years before.
Mr Bixby then rose from his bed, and walked out into his kitchen. His dog named "Comet" laid at the base of the stove, sleeping on a warm rug. As a puppy, Comet had ran through the house leaving a trail of chewed up shoes and newspapers. Mr. Bixby thought the name fit the dog perfect. Heading toward his little round table, with only two chairs, and then sitting down, Mr. Bixby placed his head in his hands and began to weep. He'd been dreaming of his dead wife Bonnie before he'd awoke, and he missed her so much that his empty life felt like a punishment without her in it. Mr. Bixby sat like this for the next fifteen minutes, then composed himself and went back to bed.
After falling back asleep, Mr. Bixby found himself in the most beautiful dream... "Is that you dear?"
"Yes Ollie, it's me, she said, I was just checking on you."
"Everyone is talking about it, you know... You're a hero!"
"I don't know what you mean." Mr. Bixby said, sounding confused now.
"I'm talking about how you helped Mrs. Adams tonight!" She answered.
"I was lost, and didn't know which way to go, he told her. The snow was everywhere. I saw a huddled form in the snow and headed toward it is all. Then I saw it was Mrs. Adams, and we helped each other home."
"You made me very proud of you Ollie. Sometimes the fear of the unknown makes us all feel lost. My dear sweet Ollie, always the helping heart. You've done so well in this world, and I'm so lonely for you after all this time. Now come my sweetness, take and hold my hand, and together we'll travel the storm side by side."
As Mr. Bixby dreamed of taking his wife's hand, he felt the weight of he world suddenly lift from his shoulders.
"I've misseed you so much, for so long, but I'm afraid," he told the dream.
"There's nothing to be afraid of my dear, just come with me," the dream coaxed.
"What about Comet? Who'll take care of him?" Mr. Bixby asked the dream.
"Comet will be fine. He's dreaming of chasing baseballs even now," the dream answered.
"There's something I must do before we go," Mr. Bixby told the dream.
Afterwards, the two headed into the storm, its whiteness surrounded them like a whirling mist. The only thing different about this blizzard was that there was no cold, no strife, and no longer any loneliness.
The next morning, Mrs. Adams and her son heard the sound of an siren outside of their house. Upon looking outside, Mrs. Adams saw an ambulance pulling away from the front of Mr. Bixby's house. The two quickly dressed and headed outside toward the small crowd that had already gathered there.
"What's going on?" Mrs. Adams asked another neighbor, that she recognized as Mrs. Alley from down the street.
"Poor old Mr. Bixby passed away last night, she said. I guess the mailman saw him lying on his floor through the front window. I was just getting ready to come over to your house, when you came over here instead. The poor thing has lived alone ever since his wife passed away about ten years ago. They found a note on his nightstand addressed to you and your son. I said I would give it to you."
Mrs. Alley handed the note to Tommy's mother, who unfolded it, and began to read. It said:
Dear Mrs. Adams and Tommy,
Please take care of old Comet for me, until I come back for him... He's a good dog, and I know him and Tommy will get along just fine. He likes to eat, sleep, and fetch baseballs. He also likes cats! I know that sounds crazy, but I caught him all snuggled up to one out on my back porch one morning. Go figure! And just one more thing... Please leave a light on for him at night too. He's afraid of the dark sometimes, and of being alone, just like I use to be... Love, Mr. (and Mrs.) Bixby.
David S. Lewis February 22 2005