Archive for the ‘24 Valentine – Part 1’ Category

“What happened?” Ask Darlene in a soft whisper. She pulled a sleeping Penny closer.

Everyone in the truck stared at the mayhem that had been visited on the resident of Valentine Texas.

“Maybe, it was a tornado?” Della asked.

Steve answered. “There was that storm three days ago.”

“Oh, God. The people?” Della whispered.

Steve picked up a pair of binoculars and studied the road ahead. He could see the road ahead was littered with the remains. Valentine had been a small community of less than a hundred people according to a twisted green sign clinging to a single upright post. It was hard to tell now, but Steve guessed there had been thirty or forty buildings before the storm but the force of the tornado had reduced all to a pile of debris. Trees were stripped of leaves and torn from the ground and now were scattered amid the cars and trucks of undeterminable ages and colors. Water stood along the road and in the ditches within the destruction that had been Valentine.

“I don’t think we can get through there.” He paused then added.

“Should I turn around?” Zack asked.

“No.” Steve glanced at the instrument panel. “We don’t have the gas to go back to the state road and change our route.” He pointed to a water-logged dirt path to the west. “Head that way. We’ll try to go around.”

Zack slipped the truck back into drive and turned onto the dirt road at the side of the only remnants of the building still standing.

They rode over the rut-pocked path for half a mile passing the back of what was left of a school. All that remained beside fragments of the walls was a sign for the Valentine School. The school building was a pile of adobe-colored bricks and twisted white metal from the roof. Amid the remains of the gym stood a mud-smeared basketball backboard with the net reduced to shreds. Clothing and toys littered the grass around the destroyed dwelling. Amid the shattered and broken wood was a body impaled on a vertical pipe. As the truck rolled past, the small child’s head turned, and the remaining arm reached out toward the sound.

“Oh God.” Darlene began to cry softly as she tucked Penny close.

Steve pointed in the distance. “When we get away from the debris field we can head back north then back east and get back on the highway.”

Zack left the dirt path and turned the truck to avoid clumps of scrub grass and brush. The steering wheel jerked as the truck bounced over rocks and water-filled puddles. The vehicle creaked and groaned with the uneven terrain while the wheels spun in the mud.

“This is getting bad,” Zack announced.

“Keep going,” Steve answered.

Zack turned the steering wheel back to the west, and the truck was more than a mile from the community. The ground grew more exacting with each minute. The vehicle was taking a real beating as it jolted over rocks and clumps of brush. Suddenly there was a loud boom, and the wheel jerked to the right while the engine roared with a sudden stain. Zack stepped on the brakes. He looked into the side mirror and saw the trailer was still sitting level while the truck tilted to the side.

“Well, that’s a real problem.” Zack sighed.

“What happened?” Darlene asked.