The Rockport Miracles-Part 4: Episode 35: “The Ballad Of Derecho Dan” Continues:
“Wake up, Little Dan,” said the reassuring voice, “Wake up, dear.” It was the voice of Wilmena Newman, Little Dan’s mother. Against her doctor’s orders, she’d left her own sickbed to be with her critically injured son.
'Little' now ‘Derecho’ Dan was in rough shape after blowing up Storm 5.6 with a bomb-laden boat. His injuries included a severe concussion, a badly broken right leg, and a broken left arm. Wilmena was aghast when she found him handcuffed to his bed as mandated by the Rockport Police, the ATF, FBI, CIA, the Jacques Cousteau Society, and the River City Rotary. Despite being the biggest folk hero in Rockport since the Flying Owego Brothers, Derecho Dan Newman was in BIG trouble with every kind of law there was. If he'd recovered from his injuries, he’d be facing decades of imprisonment for his anarchy on Lake Erie.
Meanwhile, Mickey Mars had troubles of his own. After rowing his small boat onto the lake, his vessel had been seized upon by a mysterious force that pulled him through the water before flipping him into the water. As he held onto his upturned boat, a VERY LARGE thing circled around him. When the mystifying creature suddenly rose out of the water, Mickey (a natural falsetto who sings in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorale) let out a scream so shrill that circling gulls became confused and fell from the sky like soup dumplings.
Fortunately for Mickey, the Rocks of Rockport had been observing the creature from their clifftop perch and were already on the way. They arrived on the scene just as Mickey let out his bird beguiling bawl. “HELP ME!!!” screamed Mickey, “IT’S GONNA EAT ME ALIVE!!!” Rockport Police Chief Tom Graber was on the boat and pulled Mickey aboard. “Take it easy, Mickey,” said Chief Graber, “We’ve been observing and photographing the thing for hours. We think it was knocked silly by the explosion.”
Mickey was shaking like a leaf as he toweled himself off. “Well then," he blurted, “What the hell is it?!” As they sat on the deck observing the creature rolling around in the water, Chief Graber shrugged and nonchalantly replied, “It’s a dinosaur. What do you think it is?”
Mickey was bug-eyed while the rest of the crew all nodded in agreement. “There’s plenty of eyewitness accounts of these creatures going way back to the days of Gitchee-Goomi and Oliver Hazard Perry,” said the Chief. He added, “No one really knows what slithers and slides through the depths of these ancient lakes.”
Mickey was exasperated. “Imagine that…a friggin’ dinosaur…IN ROCKPORT?” Chief Graber nodded, “And, by tomorrow," he said, "the whole world will know it. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is contacting every marine expert and paleontologist IN THE WORLD!"
Back at Rockport Hospital, the scene was somber. Derecho Dan was not doing well at all. He was still unconscious and the doctor’s prognoses were increasingly grim. “We can’t help him if he’s lost his will to live,” said the doctor, “the next 24 hours will tell the tale.” Wilmena sat alone with him until the Three Joes showed up. The three Italian bricklayers Little Dan had hired to build a barrier wall around the Gas & Lube came bearing gifts of pasta and pastries from the kitchens in Little Italy. Then, Rowena Gridley appeared with Little BD, who she'd smuggled past security inside her very large purse.
The room took on the appearance of the last scene in the “Wizard of Oz” when all the farm hands had gathered and waited for Dorothy to snap out of it. But, Derecho Dan wasn’t snapping out of it and Wilmena grew increasingly despondent. As the Three Joes hugged her, Rowena pulled two items from her purse, a tuna salad sandwich and a Boston Bull dog. She laid Little BD on top of Derecho Dan who immediately began licking his face. Wilmena grabbed the tuna sandwich and held it up to his nostrils before shoving a tuna blob into his opened mouth. “If my tuna salad doesn’t wake him up,” said Wilmena, “then nothing will.”
Sure enough, Wilmena’s famous tuna salad worked its magic and went where no doctor could...straight into her boy’s soul. Derecho Dan’s fingers and toes began to move. Little BD kept licking his face while everyone rubbed his shoulders and gently called out his name. Suddenly, Wilmena felt her son’s grasp on her hand. “Little Dan,” she cried, “please wake up...my poor boy.”
And just like that, he opened his eyes. “Mama?” he whispered in a woeful voice that brought everyone to tears. The Three Joes simultaneously did a sign of the cross and Little BD let out a joyful bark. A demonstrably relieved Rowena turned toward the window and quietly prayed.
“We got this, Ma,” he whispered in a weak but hopeful voice. Wilmena dabbed her tears away with the wad of Kleenex she’d been holding. Then, she cradled her son's face in the palm of her hand and delivered her favorite words of wisdom. “You betcha’ we got this, darlin’ boy,” she said, "we Great Lakers are a tough breed. Don’t you ever forget it.”
Next Episode: The Finale of "The Ballad of Derecho Dan"
Illustration ©2020 Greg Budgett
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