The Rockport Miracles-Part 4: Episode 32: “The Ballad Of Derecho Dan” Continues:

Though, not exactly the Battle of the Somme, the tragi-comical skirmish between the citizens of Rockport and River City, known as “Shale Wars I”, had unfurled like a mud pie in the rain. Emanating from long simmering resentments between the two towns, the battle was later hyped in the Cleveland newspapers as the greatest clash of suburbanites since the “Beer Night” riot of 1974.

In the dead center of this fray was Little Dan Newman. Hallucinating wildly from an ill-advised dose of LSD, he’d sailed a dynamite-laden boat called, “The Friggin’ A” onto Lake Erie to destroy a storm he’d understandably mistaken for giant lizard.

Miraculously, Little Dan’s hare-brained scheme had successfully diverted the storm away from beleaguered Rockport. Unfortunately, the massive explosion had re-directed the storm’s energy toward the unsuspecting, boat obsessed, endlessly barbecuing citizens of River City. The direct hit caused millions of dollars in property damage and coated 10 square miles of River City in a thick, maladorous blanket of fish guts. 

The long suffering citizens of Rockport were wholly unmoved by River City’s plight. Many felt that the tony town of 10,000 Orthodonists had finally received the come-uppance it richly deserved. For the smarms and swells of River City, however, vengeance ruled the moment. From every spa, country club, and cabana in River City, people raised their tiki-cocktails and squash racquets in the air and called for the head of Little Dan Newman on a pike.

Sadly, Little Dan was already in pretty bad shape. His body had been spit from the cataclysm he’d fomented like a hocker from hell. Injured and unconscious, he’d been catapulted up the mouth of the Rocky River by a huge tsunami created from the explosion. As he lay motionless on the roof of a houseboat in the river channel, hundreds of vigilante Riverites, most of them acolytes of the recently nose-less Mayor Ridgewood, appeared along the shale cliffs above the Yacht Club seeking revenge.

The crazed and discombobulated mob had murder on their minds. Because of Little Dan, a half mile of the city’s pristine coastal properties had been turned into something that looked and smelled like the dumpster behind Captain Frank’s Seafood Restaurant. Then, some guy in army fatigues came rappelling down the shale cliffs like Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos! He brazenly tied a rope around Little Dan’s chest and commanded his paisans atop the cliff to start hauling them both up. Something had to happen quickly to save Little Dan from mob justice and, something surely did!

From atop their own cliffs on the other side of the river, hundreds of Rockporters had gathered to see what was going on. When they caught sight of Sgt Fury trying to capture their hometown boy, they became apoplectic and streamed en masse into the river valley to save him. By the time they arrived, the pseudo soldier and unconscious Little Dan were dangling 20 feet in the air.

That's when Mickey Mars, an intrepid Rockporter with acrobatic skills, scurried up the 90 degree cliff face like a gecko on a hot date. With great agility, he leapt onto the rope holding Sgt. Fury and Little Dan! The extra weight dragged the three of them down far enough for Rockporters below to grab the end of the rope and then a great Tug o’ War ensued. At that pivotal moment, the Rocks of Rockport showed up and Little Dan suddenly woke up!…sort of.

He'd awoken in the technical sense only. It would be many days before he would again dwell in his right mind. Trapped in a waking dream, Little Dan began groping at the air. Mickey Mars grabbed hold of Little Dan to stabilize him while busily punching and kicking Sgt. Fury.

The Rocks of Rockport were donning their riot gear when Coast Guard Cutter "Darryl A. Levy" steamed up the river channel and came upon the surreal scene. Also on board the cutter were Rockport’s Police Chief Tom Graber, Rowena Gridley, and Little Dan’s beloved Boston Terrier known as Little BD. When she saw her nephew dangling high the air and in the grips of two men, Rowena let out a horrified scream and pleaded with the Skipper to save her nephew.

The Coast Guard Commander in turn ordered his crew to General Quarters. Doors and lockers up and down the ship’s deck were flung open revealing an impressive array of weaponry, including M16 machine guns. As members of the ROR struggled to wrest control of the riot from the warring mobs, the sailors of the "D.A. Levy" and Chief Graber joined in on the fight. Standing alone on the bow of the ship, Rowena spotted Sgt. Fury whip out what looked like a handgun from his pocket.

Being the mother of the legendary hellion known as Maynard Gridley, Rowena was no shrinking violet herself. She immediately looted one of the open weapons lockers and while cradling an M16 rifle in one arm and a Boston Terrier in the other, she laid down an impressive line of suppressing fire just below the cliff tops. Those that didn’t poop their pants on the spot, ran for their lives. The Riverites tugging from above panicked and let go of the rope causing Little Dan, Micky Mars, and Sgt. Fury to plummet 20 feet into the Rocky River.

Chief Graber quickly moved in and at last had his man/boy in custody. He ordered one of several waiting ambulances to rush Little Dan off to Rockport Hospital. The Battle for Little Dan Newman was finally over. What happened in the days that followed, no one on earth could’ve ever predicted.

© 2020 Scott MacGregor-EOI Media Press Inc.

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Volume 16, Issue 17, Posted 4:54 PM, 09.02.2020