A summer adventure turns dangerous for a teenage girl. Will help come in time?
Ever drive much on back country roads in Texas? It's easy to feel like your lost a million miles from civilization. Fields, or woods can line both sides of the road for miles and miles with no houses or dwellings in sight. When you get far enough into the country, paved roads give way to dirt roads and clearly marked road signs become few and far between. The cows just gaze at you with large, gentle eyes, but hey, they don't give directions.
As a teenager, just learning the skill of driving, It was thrilling to be completely lost on back roads, never knowing where you'll actually come out and find a main road or a tiny little town. I was on just such a road, on that hot, sunny day in mid July. I'd been driving for hours, and lost in my teenage thoughts, music and cow spotting, I failed to give attention to the fact that the sun was playing peekaboo with dark, gunmetal gray clouds that had come out to play.
As I got further along on a very narrow, dirt road lined with tall pine trees I suddenly became aware of how dark it was getting. It was early afternoon, it should not be so dark. It was then I noticed the accumulated storm clouds. Texas is pretty well known for sudden storms and flash flooding, and I was on a obscure dirt road miles from everywhere.
I approached a four way intersection and wondered which way would lead to a main road or even a town. I might have been learning the skills of driving, but I knew well that when sudden storms brew in Texas, you get off the back roads. Only, as I sat there, considering my direction options, my Chevett made a sputtering cough and died. I still had half a tank of gas, so I hadn't run it out of gas. Thin vapors of steam were curling from the hood and I wondered what that was from. Turning the key, I tried several times to get the car to start but it refused to do anything. Not even click.
Now, I know, your thinking, no problem, just use your phone and call someone to come help you. However, this was 1991 and cell phones were not common and not an option. The wind kicked up and trees started shaking their branches rustling the leaves and dropping pine cones. Prayer was my only viable option. Please, Lord, let my car start. A simple plea straight from the heart. I waited a few minutes, and turned the key again.
The car grudgingly started! To the untrained ear, I failed to notice the ominous warning sounds of a motor on the verge of throwing a rod. The car started and as far as I knew, I was good to go! I hit the gas, made it a few yards down the road and the car seized up. The wheel refused to turn, the power was like something was sucking and draining is slowly. It took all my strength to force the car to the side of the road where it again died. Nothing I did would get it to start again.
By now, it was very dark. Gusty winds were buffeting the small car and the rustling tree branches where whipping the air harshly. The radio wouldn't work. It was dark. The storm was quickly approaching and I was alone on a deserted road in the middle of no where. Now, is probably a good time to admit, one of the few rules Mom had for allowing me use of the car was, I was NOT to leave the city limits. I had no idea how far from town I was, I knew I was at least a good sixty miles from home. No one knew I had headed out into the country side. No one would know to look for me way out here.
I knew my only hope was to again pray. Lord I prayed fervently and as is typical of a desperate soul pleading for help from the Almighty, I made desperate promises if only He would get me out of this trouble. I pledged to never get into trouble again. To never slip out of town without permission. I'd never disobey anything my Mother ever said again as long as I lived. Oh yes, I laid it on thick, just for good measure. Looking back, I can only imagine God rolling his eyes as I tried to bargain for his assistance.
The car rocked in the gusty winds. Large drops of rain started plopping on my windshield. As I was about to launch into another round of negotiating with the Almighty, a scratching sound caught my attention. I was parked close to the edge of the woods, but not close enough for brush or branches to scratch on the car. I looked out my door window and came nearly eye to eye with the largest, meanest looking dog I'd ever seen. I love dogs, and though he seemed huge and intimidating, I felt sorry he was stuck out in the rain.
I opened my car door, thinking I'd get out quickly and let him in the back of my car. However, when I opened my door, he didn't wait for an invitation, he launched himself though my door, over me and landed with a ungraceful thunk in my passenger seat. Well, OK then. Now that he was in my car and taking up nearly half the front of the car, it was hard not to notice he stank to high heaven. Wet dogs never really smell all that great. This one though, made wet dogs smell like sweet perfume. This dog reeked. And he drooled. Which was getting all over the seat, dash and me. He was massive. Part of his left ear was torn off and jagged. His eye on the same side drooped and looked gunky and crusty. His body was covered in battle scars both old and what seemed fairly new. Obviously, this dog lived a hard life.
I reached out my hand, talked to him softly and rubbed his massive, filthy head. He snorted and tried to lay his over sized body down. It took some wrestling, but I finally managed to let the back of the seat down so he had more room to lay. Not long after he took over my car, he fell into a restless sleep while I continued petting his head. Hail. Hail started pelting the car.
“Oh, this isn't good,” I said to the dog. He raised his head, looked at me but didn't say much. The wind had picked up and I was well aware of the signs of tornadoes. Even without the radio, I was sure the area I was in was under several weather warnings, including one for tornadoes. The hail lasted only a few minutes. The sky broke open and a down pour unleashed. I prayed. I was not the type of girl to be easily scared, but I had to admit. I was scared. The dog made a grunting noise and I edged a bit closer to him not caring how bad he smelled.
At some point I fell asleep. The storm let forth it's furry but I was warm, dry and slept next to my new friend. It was still dark, but the storm had passed and a light rain was falling when the sound of a deep throat-ed growl awake me.
“What's wrong?” I asked the dog as I looked around. I noticed a beat up silver and black 4x4 truck had pulled up behind me and three cowboy looking men were making their way to the front of my car. One on my side, and I didn't really notice there the others went. The one at my window motioned for me to roll down my window. I cracked it enough to hear him. The dog was standing. His hackles were raised and he was not playing around. He was showing his teeth and his growl meant business. The guy told me to get out of the car so he could get in and try to start the car.
I was about to do as he said, when I noticed his two friends had come around to the passenger side was were reaching out to open the doors. Why would they need to open my doors? Did they know see or hear how serious this dog was sounding? Even a teenage girl could tell something was really not right.
I was thankful I'd locked all the doors prior to falling asleep. The man at my door was now trying to open my door and I told him I was fine. My three big brothers were on their way to help me and they would take care of everything. He protested, insisted I open my door. I told him he better hope he doesn't get my door open because I had no way to control my dog. The men hesitated but then made their way back to their truck and finally drove off.
“What was that all about?” I asked more to myself than to the dog. He let out a huff and scratched at the door. “Gotta go potty?” The light rain had stopped, rays of morning light were starting to break though the darkness. I opened the door and he jumped out and headed into the woods. I waited, but he never returned. Shortly after a friendly elderly couple picked me up and drove me to the nearest store where I was able to call home and get my brothers to really come help me.