The Rockport Miracles-Part 4: Episode 28: “The Ballad Of Derecho Dan” Continues:

Little Dan had changed his mind. Plunging a 33-foot cabin cruiser loaded with dynamite into the heart of Storm 5.6 had always been “Plan A,” as defined in Maynard Gridley’s “Manifesto with Cheese.”

The manifesto also mentioned a “Plan B” wherein the goals of “Plan A” would still be met, however, Little Dan could still theoretically escape with his life. Up until zero hour, Little Dan had always intended himself to be blown up with the boat for a true warrior’s death. Then, he experienced a sudden change of heart!

After the pleadings of his Aunt Rowena Gridley from the deck of Coast Guard Cutter, Darryl A. Levy had failed to dissuade him, she’d made one last attempt. She held the bullhorn up to the mug of Little Dan’s beloved Boston bulldog and pinched the little dog until he started barking. The trick worked. Little BD started barking his little black and white head off.

Little Dan had convinced himself that Little BD perished when the Gas & Lube exploded. His father, Big Dan Newman, had died months earlier. Little Dan was sure that his mother would die from her Storm 5.4 injuries. Despairing deeply, the only thing left in the world for Little Dan to believe in was “Plan A.”

Thanks to the LSD that he’d had mistakenly ingested, not only did he hear Little BD barking at him, he could even smell him through the storm! The familiar scent led him onto the dog's astral plane where he found the entrance to Little BD's soul! After kicking away all of the metaphysical dog toys, Little Dan was reunited with the intrepid canine. Little BD looked into Little Dan’s eyes, licked his chops, rolled onto his back and whinefully pleaded, “DON’T DO IT, LITTLE DAN!..DON’T DO IT!!”

The dog's desperate pleadings caused Little Dan to burst into tears tough enough to wash away the deleterious effects of the LSD. Consumed with doubt and regret, Little Dan gazed down at the army footlocker marked “Plan B” and opened it up for the first time.

Inside the locker was a large clump of something made of rubber with an oxygen tank that said, “PULL CORD TO INFLATE.” By then, the storm was at full power and it was all Little Dan could do to remove the device and air tank from its crate and spread it out on the deck. Sure enough, “Plan B” was a Vietnam-era army life raft. Lucky for Little Dan that Maynard Gridley was a man who liked to hedge his bets.

Within moments, the onlookers along the eastern cliffs of River City heard the cabin cruiser go full throttle into the meat of the storm. What they didn’t see was Little Dan pulling the raft’s inflate cord before pushing the throttle forward. Struggling to get his footing down, Little Dan wrapped his arms around the partially inflated raft and tumbled ‘ass over tea kettle’ off the stern of the speeding boat

The storm-tossed waters had their way with Little Dan. He hugged the raft like it was his mother. Within seconds it had inflated enough to tread water. Little Dan, all 260 pounds of him, then laid prone on the raft and began paddling with both arms and both legs.

“PLAN B!!!” he screamed over and over again to coach himself. ‘PLAN B!! PLAN FRIGGIN’ B!!!!!” It didn’t take long before he’d exhausted himself. “He’s a goner,” said one of the River City onlookers, “that lake will eat him alive.” Realizing that he was about to die, Little Dan began to see his life flash before him. He saw the happy days when he, Old Dan, Big Dan, Wilmena, and Little BD were one big happy Rockport family. He remembered his childhood, the first girl he ever loved, and all the rotten nuns that used to beat him at St. Swithen’s Parochial School.

“I’m sorry Mom and Dad!” he shouted into the ruthless sky. Then, Little Dan remembered his prayers. In those last seconds before “The Friggin’ A” would blast itself into history, Little Dan began reciting The Lord’s Prayer. When he came to the part about, “…Give us this day our daily bread...” a bona fide Rockport Miracle happened.

Hundreds of excited onlookers along the River City cliffs nearly dislocated their elbows as they pointed at what their eyes were seeing. While observing the hopeless shape of Little Dan flailing his extremities in vain to escape the storm, a force invisible to all, including Little Dan, grabbed hold of the raft’s bow rope and began pulling it away from the storm at a rapid rate. “There's a submarine, underneath him, I betcha!” screamed an old-timer on the cliffs. A freckle faced, red-headed boy screamed, “It’s Captain Nemo’s sub! I saw this in 'Mysterious Island!!'"

“The Miracle of ‘Serpent’ Storm 5.6” occurred in front of plenty of witnesses and was captured on several Kodak Super 8mm movie cameras. The mysterious force had pulled Little Dan’s raft nearly 100 yards away from the leading edge of the storm before the two thousand pounds of army grade explosives inside “The Friggin’ A” detonated.

Little Dan would soon realize that 100 yards distance wasn’t nearly far enough to escape what happened next.

© 2020 Scott MacGregor-EOI Media Press Inc.

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Volume 16, Issue 13, Posted 5:19 PM, 07.01.2020