SPINNING THROUGH PERIL
Frank and Joe knew that their mother and father weren’t expecting to be back until late that afternoon, and they figured the snow slowed everything down. Planes were often not on time, they knew, and their mom had already mentioned the detours and traffic delays she’d heard about on the radio before she left. They did expect their parents to call sometime. Frank paused in his reading to glance at the clock. He didn’t want to worry his brother, but he wondered if he should try calling either their mom or dad’s cell phones to see if everything was okay.
Joe caught him looking at the clock though, and made him jump when he spoke, “When do you think Mom and Dad will be back?”
“Hard to tell. Traffic is going to be ugly with the weather. They expected to be back by now, but I’m sure it will be later because of the snow.”
“Shouldn’t they have called already?” Joe asked. Frank wasn’t sure how to answer that so he covered his concern with what he hoped was a nonchalant shrug. He reached over to the end table to grab the remote to see if they could glean anything from the news. He had just flipped it on when the electricity went out.
“Great,” Frank said. “Sit still for a second, Joe, I’ll get the lantern.” Before long, Frank had gotten the battery operated lantern and turned it on. The living room was then enveloped gently in the soft light.
“Let’s go see if we can find out anything on the radio,” Joe suggested. Frank agreed with his brother’s good idea and the two headed for their dad’s study where the CB radio was located. They knew weather updates could be heard on it. The short wave radio needed to be fixed, which Fenton intended to do when he got a chance.
Frank flipped on the radio and adjusted the settings. Nothing was heard other than the sound of static. Frank slowly tuned it to see if anyone was broadcasting. Static continued to be the only thing coming over the air. They knew that the weather was bound to be a problem in the range, but they were curious to see if they could pick up anything. Suddenly the static was interrupted by a man’s voice, weak and unsteady.
“…anyone out there?” the man was saying. The brothers glanced at each other and Frank turned up the volume. He wanted to tune the channel in better in hopes of hearing the man more clearly, but he didn’t want to chance losing the signal.
“Yes,” Frank’s voice stated over the CB. After a burst of static, he said, “Do you read me?”
“Yes, my truck skidded on the road and the trailer flipped. I’m hurt pretty bad,” the man told them, pausing occasionally, being stopped by stabs of pain. When the trucker could talk again, he told Frank and Joe the location of his rig. The boys told him they knew where it was.
“The roads are pretty bad here, so no one has been by,” the trucker continued. “You boys are the first ones I’ve been able to reach. I sure am thankful you heard my SOS.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll call for help for you,” Frank told him. “Hang on.”
Then the channel quit and contact was broken. No matter how hard the brothers tried they couldn’t reach the trucker again.
“We know where he is, so we’ll call for help for him.” Frank went over to Fenton’s desk to pick up the phone. Joe watched as his brother frowned and hit a button. The frown deepened as Frank realized that this phone was part of a cordless set, and wouldn’t work since the electricity was out.
He moved over to another phone, this one a regular landline. In a power outage only this one would work, Frank thought to himself, and cell phones. Since their mom and dad each had their phones with them, there weren’t any in the house right then. This would be a time when Melody would have been helpful because she was never without her phone. The only problem would have been getting her to take a break from gossiping to call for help.
The handset against his ear, Frank’s stomach dropped at not hearing a dial tone. He knew they were going to have to find another way to help the trucker.
“Nothing. Phones are out,” Frank said matter-of-factly. The brothers looked at each other in consternation. How were they going to get help for the wounded trucker? The man had been out there for awhile and no one had found him yet nor had anyone else heard him on the CB. Maybe someone else would hear him, but that couldn’t be counted on.
“What if we are the only ones who know?” Joe’s deep blue eyes were full of fear for the man. Frank sighed and started a habit that would increase as he got older, namely running a hand through his dark hair. He had little doubt what his brother was thinking, but it was crazy! Not the first crazy idea that Joe had had, that was for sure. Yet, Frank was thinking on the same idea and it didn’t sound any less crazy in his mind. Maybe there were some things that they could do, think through it, to make it a little less crazy.
“The man is hurt, we know where he is, we can’t call for help,” Joe ticked the various points off on his fingers. “We’ve got to go for help.” To him it was very clear, nothing to talk about.
“Let’s try the CB again,” Frank suggested, moving over to it once more. Absolutely nothing but static the entire time Frank worked on it. Looking over at his younger brother, who raised his eyebrows at him, Frank thought hard for any other possibilities. He wasn’t coming up with any, though, and time was running out for the injured man.
“The neighbors’ phones will be out, too. With their other phones, or a laptop, or a tablet, could call for help…” Frank said, slowly. He stopped for a moment as Joe shook his head at him. Then Frank continued, “Yet most of them aren’t home, not many cars have been by in all of the snow. We know some are away already, like the Millers who are on a cruise. So that would take a lot of time trying to find someone home.” Joe sat there and listened to his brother think it out, and nodded at what he was coming up with, which was in agreement with what Joe had already said.
“Let’s see, where the trucker said he was, that’s not real far away. The police station is even closer. We could go there and tell them about the trucker so they could go rescue him,” Frank was sitting on his knees, in his father’s leather chair, and leaning his chin in both hands, with his elbows resting on the large desk.
Joe nodded his head vigorously, “Exactly! Let’s go!”
“Wait, Joe!” Frank’s words stopped his eager little brother. “Let’s plan this so we can do it right.”
“What’s to plan? We go to the station, tell them what we know,” Joe said, raising his hands, palms up, in the air, and shrugging. “Why waste time?!?!?”
“It wouldn’t be wasting time.” Sometimes Frank worried about his brother’s tendency to plow ahead; he hoped Joe would outgrow that. “What good is it going to do the trucker if we don’t even make it to the police station?”
“Why wouldn’t we? We know where it is.” Joe didn’t see the problem that his brother was obviously concerned about.
“It’s getting darker out, the roads are tricky. Remember how you were worried about the others earlier?”
“Well, that’s what we’ll prepare for,” Frank said, hopping down from the chair. Little brother followed big brother as he went to get a strong flashlight, instead of the lantern.
The brothers then went into the kitchen. Frank walked over to one cabinet and quickly extracted a thermos.
“Whatcha gonna do?” asked Joe curiously.
“Since this is an emergency, we are going to make some hot chocolate,” Frank explained. “These packs just need hot water.” Frank held up a box he had just found after looking through another cabinet. He then handed it to Joe to carry, who quickly accepted it, ready to help.
“How’re you going to boil the water?”
“Come on.” With that the elder brother headed out of the kitchen and down the hall. After entering the bathroom and turning on the hot water at the sink, he then opened the thermos and waited a minute. He didn’t let it get too hot, but what he felt would be enough. Having heard his parents talking before, he knew there would be some water available, even with the electricity out.
“Go ahead and get out some packs, Joe,” Frank said as he filled the bottle up most of the way. Joe retrieved several packages and anticipating what needed to be done next, tore open one of the packets of powder. Frank carefully held the thermos while his brother poured the contents of the packages of hot chocolate powder into it. He then closed the lid back as tightly as he could. He let Joe put a little muscle into it, too, before shaking the bottle.
Going back into the kitchen, Frank carefully printed a note about what they were about to do, trying to be as informative but as brief as possible. While he did that, Joe got their winter coats.
“The coats are still a little wet, Frank,” Joe called. “Maybe we should put on more sweaters and a thinner coat that’s dry.”
Frank came into the hall, his face showing how impressed he was with his brother’s idea. “Good thinking, Joe. We do have some dry hats, gloves, and scarves.”
“I’ll get ’em!” Joe was off in a flash, and Frank was surprised at just how quickly he returned. He had an extra sweater for each of them as well.
“I just remembered, Joe, there’s my old coat somewhere. You could wear it,” Frank said. He was glad he remembered about that; he didn’t like the thought of his brother not having a thick enough coat to wear.
“What about you?” Joe asked in concern as his brother searched for where their mom had put Frank’s old coat.
“Uh, not sure,” Frank said, tugging a plastic container down. Success! He popped the lid and pulled out the coat. After reaching it to his brother, he started to close the lid back when his eyes fell on an additional item in the container. His hand reached out and pulled out another coat! Warm and dry, and he’d never seen it before! In amazement he took it out and put it on. Fit perfectly, well, maybe a little big but very comfortable.
“Where’d that coat come from?” asked Joe, also not recognizing it. Frank shrugged and started putting on his hat and gloves. Before long the brothers were sufficiently bundled up. Joe grabbed the thermos while Frank took charge of the flashlight.
Then after surveying the slight mess in the hall, they did what Joe had suggested earlier, which was to shove it all out of the way and went out the door. A burst of cold air greeted the brothers as they stepped out. Frank locked the door behind them and put the key in one of his zippered pockets to keep it from getting lost.
It was still snowing. Already there were several feet of snow on the ground. The slim amount of light that had managed to make its way past the heavy clouds was fast dissipating. No vehicles had been down the Hardys’ street in awhile, including the snow plow, so the road was covered.
Joe glanced back at their house as they began walking down their driveway, “What if Mom and Dad get back before we do?” He glanced over at his brother.
“They’ll see the note I left them,” Frank said confidently. The two walked in silence for a few minutes, carefully making their way through the thick snow in the street.
“Frank,” Joe said, as they got to the end of their lane and headed toward downtown Bayport and the police station.
“What?” Frank asked.
“Do you think Mom and Dad are okay? Shouldn’t they be back by now?” Joe’s blue eyes were anxious as he regarded his big brother. He had been worried for some time now but hadn’t wanted to ask, afraid of the answer.
“Well,” Frank began carefully. “The roads are pretty bad here, so they probably are there, too. They would have called, but since the phones aren’t working, we wouldn’t know.”
“So you think they’re just stuck somewhere? Somewhere safe? Together?” Joe asked hopefully. Frank nodded, praying that their dad’s plane had landed safely and that their parents hadn’t started out from the airport to end up in trouble. He sighed and reached over to pat his little brother’s arm.
“Yeah, don’t worry.” He looked up into the sky, “We’re watched out for.”
Joe felt better after talking to Frank. He knew they’d both been worried, even though Frank had tried to hide it earlier at home.
“You know what, Joe?” Frank stopped for a moment, “I’m taller than you and this snow is pretty thick. How about you walk in my footsteps and that might be easier?”
Joe considered the suggestion from his brother, “But I want to walk next to you.”
“We’ll be right with each other, and believe me, in awhile you’re going to be tired. It’s a lot longer to the police station walking through snow, instead of riding in a car or on a bike.”
Joe nodded at his older brother’s wisdom and started to do as Frank had suggested. The two little boys, with the worry of where their parents were, and their compassion for the injured trucker, continued on their journey to the Bayport Police Station. Evening came and more snow was on the way.