Riding Out the Storm
Ride With Harley Short Story 10
On November 19, 1975 the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank with all hands on Lake Superior near Whitefish Bay. Gordon Lightfoot recorded a song called ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ within two weeks of the disaster. It was officially released in 1976.
Two months after that event the weather was equally bad in Lima, Ohio. The Lima area had been receiving drizzle, snow and ice pellets since January 7, 1976 through the fourteenth. With one to two inches of snow and ice accumulating daily by
K-Mart closed at nine instead of ten that night. My coworker Karen and I carpooled. Tonight was my turn to drive. We bundled up and made our way down the parking lot to where my muscle car sat. In maneuvering out or the space my Satellite spun on the icy asphalt into.the car next to it. We then slid to one side and stopped n the middle of three spaces thereby blocking those cars from leaving. I made a note of the vehicle I hit and it’s license plate before pulling out of the space and driving down the row to turn back and pull behind the car. When we got there, the Bonneville was gone.
“Now what do we do?” Karen asked.
“We go to the police and report the accident.” I said as I put the car into drive.
The police report took an hour to complete. By the time we left the police office the snow was coming down hard. Visibility was reduces to barely past our headlights. I could see the taillights if the car n front, so we followed them. We missed the entrance to Karen’s apartment complex and would have to drive to the Sohio gas station before we could turn around. The further we drove, the tighter I gripped the steering wheel. I scooted up to the steering wheel and wiped at the condensation building up on the glass when the vehicle in front of us dropped from sight.
“Left! Go left! We’re driving over The ditch!” Karen yelled.
I yanked on the steering wheel sending us into a spin. We did a complete three-hundred-sixty degrees before coming to a stop in the middle of the road.
“C’mon! We have to help them!” I yelled and slowly climbed out and made my way to the sunken vehicle. It was a Ford.
“Karen, please get the rope from my trunk.”
“Here. What else?” Karen tightened the belt around her coat. She shook snow flakes from her hair.
“Tie this end around the bumper.” I cinched the other end around my waist before carefully inching my way into the ditch toward the trapped people.
“Are you okay?” I called out to them as I surveyed their situation.
“Can you roll the window all the way down?”
“Yes, I think so,” the man said.
“Okay. Take off your coats and sweaters and pass them out to me. Then try to leverage yourself out the window.”
Once he was out, I handed him his sweater and coat. “Get in my car.”
Karen got out and made him sit in the passenger side. She slipped into the back seat. “I’m tiny, so I think we can fit everyone if I sit in the back.”
I then told his wife and children to do the same. My plan was to drive to a pay phone and get a tow truck. Once their vehicle was out of the ditch, if it was drive able they could go home; otherwise I would take them.
The next day with another two inches of snow predicted, the Governor declared a lot of roads closed. Only emergency personnel including police, fire, medical, and weather staff from newspapers, radio, and television were permitted to drive. Identification proving those requirements had to be carried.
I was supposed to open WOSL and begin the day’s broadcast by eight that morning. At six, I went to start my car. A dozen nurses and police personnel lived in the trailer court. I saw them trying to get their vehicles running. Since mine was operational I offered to jump their cars. It took an hour to get everyone going.
The drive to the Ohio State University-Lima campus was less than a mile. The icy conditions combined with snow and ice pellets made it treacherous. It took me a hour to arrive. By then, my hands were white from gripping the steering wheel. My car slid into the parking space designated for the radio station. I sat and stared out the windshield.
My car was the only one there. It was eerie seeing the place so empty, devoid of life. There were the ghostly trees, the parking lot covered in snow, and me. Nothing moved. No one walked the grounds. Classes had been cancelled.
I got out and reached into the back for a backpack and a blanket. The backpack was loaded with snacks. There was no way to know if I would be stranded here or for how long. I tugged the rainbow colored cap my mother knitted for me over my ears, pulled my coat on over my sweater and then wrapped myself in the blanket. I also draped a scarf around my neck and pulled it up over my nose. Only my eyes were visible. I wore thermal underwear, two pairs of pants, two shirts, two pairs of socks, gloves, and boots.
I slipped but didn’t fall as I walked to the building housing the radio station. By the time I entered fumbled with the keys, opened the building and went downstairs to open the station my fingers were numb even with gloves on.
I set the bags on the desk top in the outer office and proceeded to divest myself of the extra layers of clothing, including the thermals. Afterward, I dug through the bags looking for my thermos. A nice cup of got tea would be nice. It wasn’t in any of the sacks. I had forgotten to pick it up from the kitchen counter. I was going to have to make do with Vernors™ from the machine in the hall.
Facing the office desk, to the immediate left was the door to the broadcast booth. I entered. To my left was a couch. Straight ahead were the turntables. The equipment was arranged in a u-shape. In the left was the microphone and controls, straight forward were dual turntables, lanterns, and a stack of tapes. Toward the right reel to reel tapes hung from a rack. Next to them was shelving with station owned albums. Most of the disc jockeys brought their own, labeled them and houses their stack on the shelves.
I quickly fired up the set. I cued ‘In Hopes of a Garden’ from Steppenwolf’s album ‘For Ladies Only.’ We had access to the relatively new NOAA radio broadcasts. I quickly scanned the information while the microphone and turntables warmed up. I donned my headset, flipped several switches and brought the station on the air. The red light outside the broadcast booth came on informing non-existent staff I was broadcasting.
“Good morning Lima, Ohio! This is Gypsy Mar coming to you from the freezing cold Ohio State University-Lima campus. Today’s weather calls for a high of thirty degrees and a low of ten. Currently the temperature is hovering around fifteen degrees with a windchill of negative 1.64. The dew point is 12.4. Visibility is 9.5 miles. Wind ranging from 9.6 to 15 knots. The weather folks are calling for another two inches of snow. In other news, the Governor is calling for non-emergency personnel to remain off the roads. Our local schools and colleges are closed. Again, if at all possible, remain off the roads. Those who venture out and are not deemed essential or emergency personnel will be assessed a hefty fine. Now, for your listening pleasure, Harley, this one’s for you. Steppenwolf’s ‘In Hopes of a Garden.’ Stay safe my listeners and friends.”
I then exited the station to grab a can of soda from the machine. I returned just as the song ended and I ran a commercial.
Three hours later the request line rang. “Gypsy Mar, what can I play for you?”
“It’s me, Peg. I’m not going to make it in. March called and said he’s snowed in and so is Hixson. Looks like you’re it today. I hope you can get home when you shut down the station.”
“Thanks. So do I.” I hung up. The line immediately rang again.
“Gypsy Mar. Name it, I’ll play it.”
“Got any ‘Steppenwolf? I’m fantasizing some ‘Spiritual Fantasy.’” Came Harley’s voice.
“From Steppenwolf ‘The Second’ right? You got it.” I turned to pull the album out and cue the song.
“Thanks. Now, can you also let me in?”
Let him in? I cringed at the thought he had driven through this mess. I sure hoped he hadn’t ridden his HOG. Last December he took me to a Steppenwolf concert in Providence, Rhode Island. It was cold, icy, and we took his motorcycle. “You’re here?”
“Yes and I’m freezing my butt off outside.”
I waited until the song was playing before rushing to unlock the building door. WOSL staff were the only non-employees with keys to the door into the building and the station door.
“Are you crazy? What are you doing here? Don’t you know everything is closed?” I fussed.
His arms were loaded with a cooler and several packs. I took the stuff from him.
“The roads are really bad. I hope you didn’t take your bike.” I helped helped him divest himself of extra layers of clothing.
“Bentley. It’s heavier.”
I hurried back into the booth and put on ‘Of a Lifetime’ by Journey from their self titled album ‘Journey.’
In the outer office Harley removed food from the cooler. Each item was wrapped in foil and covered by towels to keep it hot. He took a thermos from one of the packs and filled paper cups with steaming herbal tea.
“Garrett sent a lot of food in case we get stuck here overnight. I’m leaving the rest of the food wrapped and in the cooler to keep it warm.”
“Smells heavenly,” I inhaled, appreciating the aroma coming from a soup bowl set in front of me. “Let’s take these into the booth.” I took my bowl and cup to the control center and came back for a piled high plate.
Settling into my chair I ate the soup. It was chicken and rice. “Homemade, I take it.”
“Yep, courtesy of Garrett.” Harley grabbed his plate and sat on the couch in the booth.
“Please, tell him thanks,” I took another sip.
“Already did,” Harley replied after swallowing. “We’ll save the sandwiches for later. Just stick ‘em in the cooler and put it by the door upstairs. Instant refrigeration,” he laughed.
“Or stick them in our refrigerator.”
“Oh yeah, forgot about that. Oh well, sticking it outside is more humorous.”
I love how his laugh is infectious. He shot me his goofy grin. I laughed so hard I almost missed the hourly update.
“Time for the weather update.” I tuned to the NOAA station and jotted down the information before switching on the microphone.
“You’re listening to WOSL radio. This is Gypsy Mar coming to you live from the winter wonderland that the Ohio State University Lima campus has turned into. Folks, it nasty out there. The weather service is telling everyone to stay off the roads. Only emergency personnel are exempt. The latest update now calls for a high of 28.2 and a low of 16.2. Our current temperature is 22 degrees. Visibility is 11 miles. Wind speed is 11.4 knots gusting to 16.9. Wind chill is a whopping 3.9. An additional inch or two of snow, and possibly as much as 3 inches is anticipated as the day goes on. Bundle up. It’s bitterly cold out there. In other news, the fire at the Delphos warehouse yesterday has been extinguished. There have been reports of sporadic power outages, so keep candles, matches, flashlights, batteries, and blankets handy. The Lima Mall has a sale on mattresses. A King size is now only sixty-six dollars. Now for some music.” I said as I thumb cued the album.
“Coming up is Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Bells of the Evening,’ followed by ‘Alberta Bound.’ Enjoy.”
The tea had gone straight through me. I pushed back from the console thinking only about making it to the restroom before I wet my pants. Rushing from the booth, I forgot to switch the microphone off.
I had three minutes and fifty-six seconds before ‘Bells of the Evening’ ended and I had to cue and release ‘Alberta Bound.’ We were not permitted to have dead air over the radio. I made it with ten seconds to spare. I played the song and cued the next one, ‘Walk This Way.’
“That was fast,” Harley commented.
“Yeah, well we disc jockeys learn to pee quickly. Can’t have dead air being broadcast.” I shrugged, reached for my headset, and the microphone switch. It was already on. I must have flipped the switch when I slipped my headset over my ears.
I repeated the weather warning and then announced the next song. I glanced over the controls as the phone rang. “Gypsy Mar. You’re live on WOSL. What can I play for you?”
“You have any Creedence Clearwater Revival? ‘It Came Out of the Sky?’”
“Coming right up. How about I play side A of the album?” I quickly pulled it out and placed it on the turn table. I then put the needle on the thick groove which indicates where the song begins. Next, I rotated the album a quarter turn backwards and lifted the edge of the record with my thumb to keep it from playing before I was ready.
“You make it look easy,” Harley commented as he stepped behind me. He bent down and placed a chaste kiss on my neck. It made me shiver. This man was so sexy.
“It’s very simple.” I released the record and we heard the southern rock of John Fogerty singing ‘Down on the Corner.’ I placed my headset on the control console.
Harley returned to the couch.
“What made you come out here in this weather?” I asked and sipped my now tepid tea.
“You did.” Harley grinned at me. “I couldn’t reach you last night or this morning. I was praying nothing happened. Garrett suggested you might be here. I knew the roads were bad so I took the Bentley. Bigger and heavier; less likely to slide.”
“Like my Satellite,” I studied his profile. So handsome! “Karen and I had to help a family. We were following them when their car sank out of sight. We were over the ditch!”
“Yikes! Was everyone okay?”
“Yes. We took them to a payphone to call for a wrecker and then waited until we were sure they were going to get home safely.”
“So, were you being stalker boy or concerned boyfriend?” I teased.
Harley laughed, “Bit of both I’d say.” His blue-gray eyes sparkled with merriment. Combine his laugh with his eyes and you had a gorgeous man.
The request line phone rang. “WOSL, what’s your pleasure?”
“Eric Clapton. ‘I Shot The Sheriff.’”
“Coming up.” I cued the album ‘461 Ocean Boulevard.’ “We’re going to play the A side of albums today.”
“I’ll be right back. I need to call Garrett so he’s not sitting at home worrying about us.” He unfolded his legs from the couch, stood, and stretched before ambling to the door.
I sighed and muttered, “You are such a sexy hunk and don’t know it.” I couldn’t help but watch him walk. His stride reminded me of a panther. I fully appreciated girls watching him walk past.
He left the door open, a no-no in radio land. But, hey, we were the only ones here. I could hear him in the outer office as he reassured Garrett we were fine.
“I’m going to put the cold cuts in the fridge for later.” Harley said as he gathered our plates. “The soup should stay hot or at least warm in the thermos.”
“Okay, love,” I replied and donned my headset for another weather update. Once again the microphone was on. I didn’t remember flipping the switch. I chalked it up to not enough sleep the night before and being distracted by my boyfriend.
My boyfriend. Last year I’d never dreamed I would have such a handsome, kind, and loving guy as Harley.
He was the stuff girls swooned over. Not only was he great on the eyes, but he had a fun loving demeanor, full of pranks, and generous to boot.
Not many people would buy lunch for a stranger let alone offer them a job. Oh yeah, Harley had a series of businesses which put him in the filthy rich category not that most people would know.
He dressed like a college student or a biker, both of which he was, and rarely wore a suit unless he was meeting with potential clients. All in all, he was the complete dreamboat package, and he was mine. At least for now. I had no allusions about being able to hold his interest for long. He was way out of my league.
“You know almost everything about me. Tell me about Mari.” He settled back on the couch and propped his left leg over his right knee.
“Not much to tell,” I shrugged. “I come from a middle class family. My dad was career military, but we moved around a lot even after he got out. I attended five elementary, one junior ans three high schools.”
“Wow!” Harley whistled. “That’s a lot.” he stared at me. “How did you manage? Did you like it?”
“It got hard at times. Always having leave old friends and make new ones. But, it was also fun. I got to see a lot of the country and meet tons of people.”
Harley sat silently as though contemplating what I told him.
“I met a bunch of well known people. My father became friends with Army General Douglas MacArthur. I’m not sure how since the General was Army and Dad was Marine. Dad used to tell us he was a special attache to the general. Anyway, we’d go to their home about once a month on a Saturday evening. His wife fed us finger sandwiches and shortbread cookies with tea that had milk in it. I’d never had milk in tea. It was both exciting and boring. We went to his funeral in the rotunda in 1964. Dad parked us where we could see and then went to help.”
“How cool was that?”
“It was memorable, for sure. When I was in the fourth grade n 1969 I went to Columbia school in Portland, Oregon. They had a program where selected students could take a school trip in the summer to Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. I was one of only two in the fourth grade picked. It cost my parents three hundred ten dollars.”
“A lot of money back then.” Harley stood and stretched. “I’ll be right back. Need to visit the boys room.”
I turned to the console and noticed the microphone was switched on. I figured I must be hitting the switch when I swivel in the chair to face Harley. I read the news, ran an advertisement for Coca Cola™ and gave an update on the weather. Then I put on the album ‘Great Grape’ by Moby Grape. While Harley was gone our station manager called.
“Mar,” Hixson said. His voice sounded raspy. “Sorry, got a cold.”
“What ya need Hix?” I asked.
“Your equipment working okay?” He asked after a long pause.
“Do me a favor and double check the console.”
“Okay. Anything else?”
“Yeah, I’m hearing the weather reports aren’t up to date. So, go outside and do a physical look see.”
“Sure.” I hung up just as Harley returned.
“Whew!” Harley sat down. He held two cups of tea in his hands. “Still hot.”
“Hmm…thanks.” I glanced at the turntables. There was plenty of time to go upstairs and do what Hixson asked. “Be right back.”
I grabbed my coat and headed out. Upstairs, I unlocked the door and stepped out. It was terrible.
The situation had deteriorated to almost whiteout conditions. I couldn’t even see my car. I quickly went inside and re-locked the doors.
“Everything okay?” Harley asked.
“Yeah,” I faded the music and cut in. “Hix, if you’re listening, the weather has gotten really bad. Near whiteout conditions here at the Ohio State University-Lima campus. Listeners, I recommend you stay indoors. Do not venture out in this mess. If you do, there is no guarantee emergency personnel will be able to get to you. I repeated, stay inside and off the roads.” I then turned the music back up.
“Yeah. I couldn’t even see my car and it’s just a few feet away.”
“Whoa! I better call Garrett. He was planning to go shopping later.” Harley went into the outer office where I heard him talking.
“Garrett, I promise, if it’s bad when Mari shuts the station down, we’ll stay here. Yeah, you too. Don’t make me worry about you.”
He came back rubbing the back of his neck. “I think I got him to stay home.”
“That’s good.” I said as I cued the album ‘Beautiful Loser’ by Bob Seger.
“So you went on the trip?”
“Yeah. In a magazine there’s a picture of a bus surrounded by anti-war protesters. That was our bus. We thought they were going to tip us over like they did some cars.”
“I bet that was scary.”
“It was. Our tour of the White House got cancelled because of the protests.”
“In New York, we stayed at the Taft Hotel and went to a Broadway play. We saw ‘Oh! Calcutta!’ It was fun.”
“Including the nude parts?”
“Yep. Our escorts didn’t know it had that. We got taken out of there as soon as the first nude scene started.
“I can believe that,” Harley laughed. “I was in New York in August. Brad and I went to Woodstock.” Harley commented.
“You did? How was it?”
“Cold and wet and fun. All the bands, the people, the mud,” he laughed. “I took a dip in the river to wash the mud off and came out even dirtier.”
“How did you get your parents to let you go?” I asked as listened to the incoming NOAA report. Hixson was right, either we weren’t getting updates or the system was down. It was the same report from two hours ago.
“They were out of the country. Brad told Garrett we were going to a concert. Not exactly a lie, but not entirely truthful either.”
“This is Gypsy Mar and you’re listening to WOSL radio coming to you live from the snowbound campus of the Ohio State University-Lima branch. Next up Bob Seger’s album ‘Beautiful Loser.’
I walked to Harley and had him turn his back to me. I placed my hands on his neck and began rubbing. “Your muscles are hard and tight.” I kissed the back of his neck.
“Hmm…feels good.” He groaned.
“Have I told you I love you?”
“At the Steppenwolf concert.” His voice came out breathy.
“Well, I love you a thousand times more.”
“I’ve loved you since I first saw you,” he twisted and pulled me into his arms. He raised a hand to trace my cheekbones, and ran a finger lightly over my lips before cupping my face and pulling me into a mesmerizing kiss.
We spent the day kissing, talking, and nibbling the food Harley had brought. In between, I updated the weather as best as I could, and played music.
Harley placed his hands on my shoulders and began kneading my muscles and neck.
“Hmm…feels so good,” I moaned.
“I aim to please,” he whispered, his voice sounded husky.
I noticed the time on the clock. It was time to shutdown the station.
We packed up the food and headed to the parking lot. The snow was slowing and we could see the vehicles. Harley insisted he get my car and bring it to the door. As he backed up the car spun to the left. After he regained control he parked the car and came back to the building.
“We’re not going anywhere tonight.” He stamped the snow off his boots. If your car slides, mine will be worse. We’re staying in the station tonight.”
We hauled everything back downstairs and into the outer office. I called home and explained to my Dad I was going to stay at WOSL. Harley did likewise with Garrett.
We had settled back onto the couch when the office phone rang.
“WOSL.” I answered.
“It’s Peg. Did you know, you were live the entire day?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“No. I mean the mike was on the whole time. As in, we were treated to your make out session,” Peg giggled.
“Yep. All of Lima heard you guys proclaiming your love. Is he a fantastic kisser? I bet he is,” she chortled.
“Peg! I’m so not going to tell you!”
“Bye bye lovers.” She disconnected with a laugh.
I replaced the receiver. My cheeks were hot. I bet they were flaming red.
“Everyone heard us! I’m so embarrassed!”
“Why?” Harley chuckled in amusement. “We didn’t do anything. Just shared a kiss. Nothing wrong with that. It’s not like we went to bed together.” He waggled his eyebrows.
“Relax. We did nothing to be ashamed of. We didn’t break any laws or anything. Let Peg laugh. She’ll never know the truth.” Ge stood up and went to the cooler.
“Let’s make some sandwiches. I’m hungry.”
We spent the rest of the night eating sandwiches, drinking herbal tea, listening to music and talking. I wound up sleeping on the couch in the broadcast booth and Harley slept on the one in the office.
Thus we rode out the storm. Two people stranded in a college radio station.
In Hopes of a Garden, Steppenwolf, For Ladies Only
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Summertime Dream 1976
Alberta Bound on Don Quixote 1972
Walk This Way on Toys in the Attic 1975
Creedence Clearwater Revival:
Down on the Corner on Willie and the Poor Boys 1969
It Came Out of the Sky on Willie and the Poor Boys 1969
I Shot the Sheriff on 461 Ocean Boulevard 1974
Great Grape 1972
Beautiful Loser 1975
Copyright© Cassandra Parker 2019 All rights reserved.
The right of Cassandra Parker to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published by Cassandra Parker.
Parker, Cassandra (2019-07-20). Riding Out the Storm Cassandra Parker. E-book Edition.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.
Riding Out the Storm is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. All locations except known towns, cities, and those listed at the back of this book are fictitious.
Any errors are entirely made by the author.
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Interesting radio show
I did get a few chuckles from this one. I don't want to say more for fear of ruining it, but it's a very enjoyable read.