The Rockport Miracles-Part 4: Episode 25: “The Ballad Of Derecho Dan” Continues:
Little Dan had to go to the can but couldn’t because it was loaded to the gills with dynamite. Instead, he relieved himself into an empty (and appropriately labeled) Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee can he found floating in the river.
As Little Dan had sailed down the Cuyahoga River, he’d been gripped by vivid hallucinations. The “sunshine” pill Maynard had directed him to swallow turned out to be LSD. To his eyes and brain, all of the bridges lining the river along the Cleveland Flats turned into dinosaurs and other strange creatures. Once the boat had reached the mouth of the river where it meets the lake, Little Dan looked back from whence he came. All the dinosaurs were waving goodbye to him.
Upon reaching the open waters he could finally see what he’d already heard. Far off on the northwest horizon, Godzilla, aka the “giant lizard” described in Maynard Gridley’s “Manifesto with Cheese” awaited him. The lizard was emerging from black clouds that belched vicious lightning bolts. It was a hallucination, of course. It didn’t matter. By that point Little Dan was unable to disagree with anything his eyes were telling him.
Little Dan took a deep breath and yanked out a photograph he stored in his wallet. It was a picture of him, his parents and his dog, taken in happier days.
“Without you guys in my life, I don’t know what I’m doing anymore,” said a tearful Little Dan to the wallet-sized photo. “I’m a big boy, now,” he concluded. “Something is in me and it’s gotta come out!” One could argue that the only thing inside him at that moment was Wilmena’s tuna salad and a powerful dose of LSD. He was right, though. Even in his altered psychological state, Little Dan knew that something had changed inside him. He was finally starting to grow up.
Standing tall on the bow of the boat, he squinted his eyes as he peered into a tie-dyed sky over his head. He said one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary,” kissed the photo, and then tossed it whole into Lake Erie. Then he pointed the boat, “The Friggin’ A” directly toward the middle of his dark horizon and yelped, “I’m coming to get ya, ‘Godzilla!’."
At that same moment, a half mile upriver, Rowena Gridley and the Rockport Chief of Police, Tom Graber arrived at the place where Maynard’s boat had been hidden. To her shock and Graber’s anger, the boat was gone. “Dammit Rowena, I’m not playing games anymore!” he barked, "Where the hell is this boat you talked about?” Rowena raised her hands and said, “Tom, I’m not lying. It was tied up - right here!”
Suddenly, a sodden homeless person jumped out from behind a bridge abutment. “You lookin’ for that big guy and his boat?” Graber stepped in front of Rowena and said, “Yeah! Where’d he go?” The man replied, “Gimme five bucks and I’ll tell ya.” Graber’s first instinct was to tell him to get lost, but, he was in so much trouble for losing Little Dan, he was desperate to try anything.
Graber yanked the fin out of his wallet and held it up. “Where is he?” he demanded. “Gimme the money first,” said the guy. The Chief stepped forward and held out the fiver but wouldn’t let go until he had an answer.
“I don’t know,” the homeless man said, “I saw him standing on the boat, reading something. He ripped whatever he was looking at in two and tossed it in the river. Then he fired up the boat and headed toward the lake!” Graber gave him the five dollars. “How long ago was this?” he asked. The guy pointed downriver and said, “Ahhh--twenty minutes ago. He’s sure to be on the lake by now!”
Graber noticed that Rowena was staring at something on the river. “What are you looking at?” he asked. When he looked down he saw the papers that Little Dan had torn in two and then thrown in the water. It was Maynard’s manifesto, alright. When Little Dan threw it away he hadn’t noticed that it had landed on a large muck ball in the river and never sank. Graber found a long hunk of wood and was able to rake the torn pages onto the riverbank. Piecing the pages back together again, Graber sat down on an old truck tire that someone had thoughtlessly discarded. As he read the manifesto he began shouting things like, ”Oh My God!” and “That crazy son of a bitch!”
Rowena stood silent. Graber looked up at her and asked, “Did you know about this, Rowena?” Rowena shook her head and said, “Know about what? Of course, not!” Chief Graber rose up and adjusted his gunbelt. “You better be telling me the truth. This was your crazy son, after all!” Rowena exploded and grabbed the Chief by his collar. “Don’t you cast aspersions on my Maynard!” she screamed loudly into his eyeballs. “HE WAS A WAR HERO!!”.
Graber peeled Rowena off of him and ran back to his squad car where Little BD had been waiting anxiously. “War hero, or not, you better not be lying!” he yelled as he grabbed hold of his radio microphone.
“ROCKPORT POLICE! ROCKPORT POLICE! COME IN--OVER!!” he screamed. When they responded he gave an order. “PUT IN AN URGENT CALL TO THE COAST GUARD. A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH! TELL THEM TO MEET ME AT THE MOUTH OF THE CUYAHOGA RIVER IMMEDIATELY!!!”
A Natural Distortion
Of Immensive Proportion
Came roaring across the lake
He confronted the mystery
Determined to Make History
On the Black Day
Derecho Dan Was Born
(Excerpts from, “The Ballad of Derecho Dan” ©1975 Music and Lyrics by: Googie Arthur and Dickie Don Rio for Agita Records-All Rights Reserved)