posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 03:44 AM
"Last Kiss Goodbye"
"Yea, ten-four, I heard tell it's pretty bad up there, but I'm a
pushin' fer home, how about it?"
"Awwright, copy that Yeller Streak. You take it easy up on top.
Keep that sunny side up, and I'll catch ya on the turn-around.
ten-four? This is the Bogey Man, and I'm out."
"Ten-four Bogey Man, we'll see ya on the flip."
Leroy Hanson grabbed a gear, downshifting against the grade.
The old Caterpillar engine whistled as the turbo kicked in. He
turned off the CB radio and lit a smoke, cracking the window. The
weather was keeping all but the bravest souls off the road. The
air outside was cold...damn cold. The radio had said it was 16
degrees, and the foot of snow on the ground was supposed to be
20 inches by daybreak. Leroy checked his watch, "If I can just get
over the top and down the other side, I should be home by about
six," he thought.
He recalled talking to his wife earlier to tell her that he'd be
home later tomorrow night-after the storm. But as he sat in his
truck thinking of his warm bed, his wife, and his beautiful baby
daughter, he'd changed his mind. It'd been almost three weeks
since he'd seen them, and that night his daughter had uttered her
first two word sentence while he talked to her on the phone, letting
her hear his voice even if he couldn't be with her. "Daddy home,"
she had said, and it just about broke Leroy's heart. He hated that
he had to be away from them, hated the fact that he'd quit school
to work, and now was stuck driving a truck over the road. But it's
hard to find a decent job without schooling, and trucking payed
The road was progressively worsening and the snow was
coming down hard. Leroy had to slow down, grade or no grade, he
could hardly see. "This is crazy," he thought, "I should'a known
better than this." But he'd already reached the point of no return.
Even if he wanted too, there was no safe place to stop a rig
of this size without taking the risk of having someone come
along and knock hell out of you. Nope, he had to go...no
way around it.
He grabbed another gear and turned on the defrost. The
tires slipped on the frozen surface as the horsepower kicked
in, and he had to feather the throttle to keep traction. He thought
of his daughter, his wife, their warm bed, and the hugs and
kisses he'd get in the morning when he surprised them. They'd
all crawl in bed, snuggling under the covers and he'd tickle
Ashley till she couldn't take it anymore. He smiled remembering
the way she had looked at him last time he'd done this. She had
waved her little finger at him, "No no no," she said, then when he
had stopped, she had lain back down, pretending not to notice
he was there, hoping he'd tickle her some more. His smiled
turned into a laugh, "I'm comin home to get me some kisses,"
he said. Then he thought of his wife's last words, "Honey....be
careful." She meant it sincerely, and for good reason.
Leroy cranked the heater, flipping the control over to
max. The wipers weren't keeping up with the piling snow and
he wished he'd fixed the fog lights. The road was a white bed
sheet, and the trees were big fluffy pillows, though he knew they
weren't as inviting as they appeared. A long drop-off awaited
the unwary just to the left. He was some four miles above
sea-level and climbing. Two more miles to the top, and four
miles of steep down-grade on the other side. It was going to be
treacherous going. Leroy hated snow. It was one of the few
tangible things in this world he felt strongly enough about to
use the word hate. He'd seen too many people hurt or killed
because they or someone else just wouldn't slow down, just
wouldn't take it easy. We lived in a world of "right here, right
now" and people seemed oblivious to the dangerous
combination of speed and bad weather.
Leroy turned the CB back on. He realized BogeyMan was
the last eastbound vehicle he'd seen, and wondered if
there might be a problem ahead.
"Anybody got a copy. How about it?" Silence. "How about
it eastbound? Anybody got a copy on my little radio?" More
silence. Damn, it must be bad on the other side. Right now he
was away from the worst of the storm. He knew when he crested
the mountain the winds were going to pick up dramatically.
On this side there were the trees, but on the other, sheer
rock and switchback turns. It was a dangerous enough
downgrade without the weather, with it, it was serious, and
Leroy forgot about everything else but driving.
He tossed his cigarette out the window and rolled it up as
he hit the top. The wind up here was gusty and pushing the
trailer. "I'm a sailboat," he thought, steering back under it.
Leroy flicked the switch on the Jake brakes, tapping the
pedal with his foot. "Easy big girl," he said. He could feel
the tires slip, and saw the trailer track sideways, the wind
helping it along. He got off the brake and steered back under
it again, picking up unwanted speed. He tapped the brake
again to slow down and heard a sickening hiss. Air was
escaping from the frozen connections on the brake lines.
No big deal on flat ground, but up here, in the snow, he
was in trouble. He tried to downshift, but the rpm's were
to high. He feathered the brake again but it was no good, he
was picking up speed, too much speed. The sign warning
of the switchback ahead had a flashing light. "Speed to Fast"
it said as he passed under it. There was a truck escape
ramp just around the hard turn. Safety was less than a
quarter mile away as he entered the curve. But he knew
instinctivley he wasn't going to make it-not at this speed.
There was only one last option. He pulled the brakes
on the rig, locking them down. The air hissed out as he
began to slide. The trailer came around as the rig
jack-knifed, but he wasn't slowing. He knew what awaited
him on the other side of the curve. A sheer face of rock,
probably a half-mile down to the next switchback. Leroy
unbuckled his seatbelt frantically and yanked the door open.
There was no hesitation, as he jumped from the rig. The cold
air blasted his face as he hit the snow covered roadway. He
was sliding, then bouncing, trying to dig in, trying to stop.
Then he was free of the earth, falling like the snow. He
thought of his wife and his daughter and his love for them.
And then he thought no more.
Ashley awoke. "Momma," she said. "UmmHmm honey,
go back to sleep...nite nite time," Dorian said, pulling her
daughter close and snuggling her. Ashley pushed away from
her mommy. "Momma..Daddy?" she said, pointing into the
room. "No, daddy will be home tomorrow," Dorian said,
"Now go nite nite, mommy's tired." Ashley rolled over and
slid off the bed, her little feet made contact with the
floor and she walked to the foot of the bed. "Where ya going?"
Dorian raised up, watching Ashley as she stood there looking
up. She turned her head and pointed. "Daddy!" she said.
"Momma..Daddy." She turned back around and reached
up into the air as if someone were about to pick her up.
"Ashley, what?" Dorian said sitting up. She pulled back the
covers and got out of bed, kneeling by her daughter, trying
to see what it was she was looking at. "Poor sugars?" she said,
"You miss your Daddy huh?" Ashley turned to her again, her
arms still raised. "Daddy home," she said. She looked back
towards whatever it was she was reaching for, then dropped
her hands, and stood there, as if listening. She turned back
to Dorian, and put her little arms around her mother's neck,
giving her a big hug and a gentle kiss.
"Daddy love," she said, "Daddy bye bye."