This week's Ten Word Challenge is: middle finger, text message. the letter “Q,” Shangri-La, melodramatic, compensate, elixir, band of brothers, quadruped, explicit
The Mini Challenge: deposition, monosyllabic, better off dead, dubious, posh
For any web wanderers who don't know what's happening here please go to the Raven's Nest and get the links to all the other stories. If you feel like it, stop here a while and read about the continuing adventures of Thomas McCool and his wife Jean, Sgt Johnson and his girl Zan and the alleged eco-terrorist Claude Debaucherrie.
This week's episode: Life's little changes
Thomas and Jean were sorry to see Paul and Zan leave. "There's something sad about going to airports isn't there?" Jean asked rhetorically of McCool. "Yea, I know what you mean" he replied. "I'm not being too melodramatic am I" she queried in earnest. "No baby, you're not." They drove in silence for a while till they were out of Atlanta and in the country.
"It'll be nice to get back to where people wave at you from their cars instead of giving you the middle finger routine" Thomas observed. "Folks in the city can be a bit too explicit for my taste" he finished. About this time a pop-up thunderstorm took shape. McCool looked for a roadside eatery where they might obtain a "plate lunch". As the rain started coming down in earnest he spotted "Daisy's Little Slice of Heaven", an eatery advertising pork Barbecue as their specialty. He pulled in and found one of the few remaining parking spots at the edge of the lot next to the road. "Grab the umbrella Jean; we'll have to make a run for it." "The food must be good, this place looks really busy" she countered. Jean grabbed her signature red umbrella with the letter "Q" in gold emblazoned on it. Just under the letter in smaller type was the saying "Question everything and especially everyone in power." She like the sentiment and loved the huge umbrella. They exited the van and made haste to the front door of Daisy's.
As they entered they were assaulted by the cooking odors of barbecued chicken, pork and beef. It smelled so good they weren't surprised to see many of the local police enjoying the great food. Law enforcement was definitely a band of brothers and once word got out about the joint's good food Daisy's business had almost quadrupled. All this Thomas and Jean later learned while talking with the owner, Daisy Arnison McCalister. "Well baby, it looks like I finally found the Shangri-La of barbecue" McCool whispered to Jean as they worked their way to an open table by the window.
The rain came down even harder as they ordered their lunches and listened to the chatter of people enjoying good southern cooking. McCool went for a pork barbecue sandwich with slaw, collard greens, fresh tomatoes, fried okra, corn bread and sweet tea. Jean settled on barbecue chicken with black-eyed peas, dirty rice and corn bread. She joined McCool in ordering sweet tea as well. Daisy herself came and took their order and commented on how hard the rain was coming down. "It’s got to where you could hardly hear yourself think" she remarked. "That's OK” Thomas answered, "My sense of smell is working overtime in here anyway." "I hope that's a good thing" Daisy countered. "I wouldn't want the dubious honor of deafening a customer just to make my food taste better." "Wouldn’t really compensate for the loss, would it?" she finished.
Daisy took their order to the counter and Thomas and Jean held hands and talked about Paul and Zan for a while. Their food came and it tasted better than it smelled. No one had gotten up to go out in pouring rain since they came in so there was a diner full of witnesses to what happened next.
As the rain had continued increasing in volume the road had started to flood. A car stopped and attempted a turn across the road into the small market and gas station across from Daisy's place. Just then an 18 wheeler hauling scrap metal on a flatbed trailer came barreling up behind the car. When the truck attempted to stop the trailer came around and wiped out everything on the side of the road in front of Daisy's Little Slice of Heaven. The first thing struck was the Cool van. Next the trailer took down the sign and two more vehicles that had been parked out near the road with McCool. When the truck finally came to a stop all the scrap metal was scattered along the road for several hundred feet. The car had seen the trucks dilemma and sped away before it was hit.
The police in the diner immediately jumped up and took control of the situation. One young officer was kept inside to take a deposition from each witness to the accident. When he came to McCool's table he asked if they had seen the wreck. "Yes, we saw it all" replied Jean. "We were looking right at it when he took out our van" she continued. "At least I assume the truck driver was a guy, I didn't get that good a look at the driver." "I was paying all my attention to the devastation the trailer was causing" she finished. "Sorry Mam" the young cop offered. "I'll let the captain know you'll need transportation and a place to stay" he added.
McCool and Jean described in agonizing detail how the trailer had wiped out everything in its path and how the car that was turning did not have turn signals on but was stopped for some time before the truck, which was traveling too fast for the conditions came upon it. The young officer moved on to the next table and Daisy came over to talk with the McCools. She asked if the fancy van had been theirs and offered to put them up for the night if it became necessary. Thomas answered in monosyllabic speech while his brain thought of how they could get a rental, when he should contact the insurance company and the miracle that no one was seriously hurt in this big mess. The driver of the truck had walked away from the wreck, though when he first emerged he was on all fours like some sort of human quadruped. He was very obviously shook up and in one of the police cruisers now being questioned by the cops.
The upshot of the conversation, could anyone in the diner have heard it, was that the driver thought he would have been better off dead than to get a ticket and lose his CDL. He had told his boss the brakes on that trailer weren't very good and they couldn't handle the weight of the scrap metal, which was already overloaded anyway. He had been trying to slow the trailer down without burning up the brakes when he came upon the car. He had been doing about the speed limit, but was working to get his speed down. He swore that he had time to see the driver typing on his phone, like he was sending a text message, he said. Why hadn't the guy just turned in to the market instead of staying out on the road so long?
Sgt Johnson and Zan took little pleasure from the flight back to Miami, in spite of the relatively posh surroundings in first class. The airline had upgraded Johnson and Zan when they saw his FBI credentials and he agreed to carry his weapon and act as a sky marshal. Part of his training had included sky marshal school and he still was accredited, though he would have to make sure he sent a report to homeland security. They could get very touchy if they weren't kept informed about who was carrying weapons on planes. With the last incident of a pilot discharging his firearm in the cockpit they were even more uptight. Still, first class had a nice feeling for Zan and she drank the free Champagne as though it were the elixir of the Gods that it was purported to be. Something about Paul seemed changed since this last visit with the McCools. She wondered what had been said and by whom. Well, Paul would tell her in his own good time, that she knew.
Claude came back into Miami with a mission on his mind. Time to stop messing about with derivative actions and get down to business. He picked out the throw away mobile he was using to contact Gunny Henderson and hit the speed dial for the Gunny. Henderson answered and it was soon obvious that he was drunk. "I thought we agreed you would stay sober till the operation was complete?" Claude asked menacingly. "I'm sure I was quite explicit" he added. "Don't sweat the small shit cowboy" the gunny returned. "My part of the operation IS over" he chuckled. "I've got the name of who is screwing with you" he continued. "Though I don't know what good it's going to do you to know" he stated.
"Not over the phone" Claude reminded him. "We'll meet at position 1 at the regular time; do you understand?" "Yea, 10-4 brother, I'll see ya" the Gunny signed off. Claude slowed down and turned into a small diner. The meeting wasn't for another 2 hours and he was hungry.
Who had the Gunny uncovered as his nemesis and why the comment about not doing him any good to know?