The snow storm was getting worse. It was about ten miles to the next town and I began to wonder if I would make it. The Ford F250 I am driving is four wheel drive, but even the big truck was having a hard time staying on the road.
The snow storm was almost blizzard like and there were short periods of white out. These conditions made visibility minimal at best. I literally couldn't see much more than thirty feet in front of the truck and I had slowed to five mph trying to stay on the road. As I drove, I thought of why I was here in the middle of a small blizzard.
My name is Patrick Ryan O'Rourke. Patrick not Pat please. My wife would have kicked your butt if you called me Pat. As the name indicates I am of Irish descent. I am 59 years young, well I don't really know about the young part. Young is not how I'm feeling lately.
I am medically retired from the United States Marine Corp. I was a Marine lifer for twenty years and was mustered out with a medical discharge. I am also retired from the security and surveillance field after another twenty years. I am drawing two pensions and medical disability check.
A word about my disability pension; I was medically discharged after being wounded in some third world shithole of a country and the retirement was not my choice.
My retirement rank was as a Gunnery Sergeant E7. I probably would have retired as First Sgt E8 or Master Gunny E9, but I had a bad habit of telling young officers to get their head out of their ass. I kept getting busted down in rank for insubordination.
Always made it back to Gunny, but I would again open my big mouth again and miss out on the next promotion. I am currently unemployed. My pensions, disability, and other investment income gives me a pretty much do what I want life style. That's not a bad thing.
When I retired from the Marines after 20 years, I was 6 feet even and 180 pounds. Even at 37 I was a hard body; running around getting shot at will keep you in shape. At 57 I retired from my second career, I had added 10 pounds to my frame but was still in excellent shape.
The other thing that the years had added was my salt and pepper hair, mostly pepper I might add. The beard that I wear is mostly, well actually all of it, is grey and gives away my age. My wife always said that I was no Sean Connery but I cleaned up nice and she wasn't ashamed to be seen with me.
My wife Molly and I were married for 35 years. I say were because she was killed in an auto accident a year ago. It was the day after I retired for the second time and we were on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) driving north from San Diego. We were going to take a couple of months to drive up the coast and into Canada and then east across Canada to Quebec.
We never made it past L.A. A large truck lost control, rammed our Corvette from the rear, and then rolled over us. I was seriously hurt, but Molly was crushed and died at the scene. Still trapped in the wreckage, I was holding her hand when she smiled at me, whispered "I love you" and passed away. The light of my life had just gone out.
I spent about three months in the hospital, had two surgeries on my left leg and one on my left arm. The driver's door of our car had done a lot of damage to that side of my body. The prognosis was good and I eventually regained about 90 per cent usage of both limbs.
Part of the investment income I mentioned before is from the settlement I was paid by the trucking company. Their driver had been drugged up on speed and he was trying to make up time on his delivery run. This cost the company a lot of money, I mean a lot of money.
They settled out of court to keep their drugged up driver out of the media. It didn't work; they paid me all that money and I still went public and raised as much hell as I could. Didn't do any good but it made me feel a little better.
When I was released from the hospital, I had to spend three months in intensive rehab, and then several more months just getting back to normal, or as normal as I would ever be. After I regained the almost full use my left side, I resumed my life. I took some of the money and bought the big Ford pickup and a vintage Shelby mustang to replace my Corvette that was totaled. I was going to buy another Corvette but every time I sat in one I would think about my wife and get bent out of shape.
My idea was to finish the trip Molly and I had planned; but with a bigger vehicle. I made it from Southern California to Oregon, before I ran out of steam. It wasn't the same without Molly. I enjoyed the country I drove through, but I kept thinking how much she would enjoy this and it took the wind out of my sails.
I decided to suspend the trip and drive home to Arizona. My plan was to head east through Idaho and then south through Utah. It was getting pretty late in the season and the people I was staying with suggested that I retrace my steps and go back south on the PCH.
They were worried about snow in the high country taking the route I had chosen. My Ford can make it through anything I told them and took off. I made it to Brian's Head Resort near Cedar City, Utah and ran into a snow storm. This is where I started my tale.
The big Ford must have hit a patch of black ice and it started to skid toward the shoulder of the road. I was going to ride it out when I saw two people in the truck's path. Hitting the gas and turning to wheel as far as possible, I was able to swing the truck around and miss the two figures.
When the truck stopped, it was facing back the way I had come and I jumped out to see if they were okay. I wasn't okay; I was shaking like the proverbial leaf in a storm. I yelled to them asking if they were hurt but I didn't get an answer from either of them.
Walking toward them I had a chance to get a better look at the two people I almost ran over. They both were wrapped up in what looked like blankets. One was taller, about 5 feet 6 I guess and the way the larger one was checking over the other made me think it was a female. The shorter one was about 5 feet 2 and sorta hanging on the taller one.
"I'm sorry; the truck hit some ice and skidded right at you. Are you okay?" Still no answer from either of them.
What are you guys doing out here in this storm?" Again not a word. "Look you can't stay out here, you will freeze. Come get into my truck and I will take you where you need to go."
The smaller one tried to pull away, but the other one stared at me intently. The tall one said "Okay, but no funny business."
They both climbed into my truck, and sat squeezed against the passenger door. I got the truck turned around and head back toward the town I had been trying to get to. I turned the heater on high to help them warm up. They must be freezing being out in that storm, I thought.
"There's hot chocolate in that thermos if you guys want, it will help you warm up. My name is Patrick O'Rourke by the way."
The bigger one grunted thanks and opened the thermos, poured some into the cup and handed it to the other one. The cup of chocolate lasted almost 30 seconds. Another cup was poured and the biggest one pulled back the blanket and the parka hood to drink. My god it was a woman or a girl but the light wasn't good enough to tell her age. The other one unwrapped herself and proved to be a younger girl.
A little aside here; there is a scene in the movie, "The Magnificent Seven" where Chris, played by Yul Brynner, is asked where he's from. He gestures over his shoulder with his thumb indicating behind him. Then asked where he's going, he points with his forefinger in front of him.
That's what I got when I questioned my riders. No info just gestures, indicating they came from back there and are going that way. Strange I thought. One would think after the close call on the road, they would be talkative and excited. What I got the most was silence.
"Look, I am going south to Arizona, but I can drop you off in the town up ahead. You can stay there until this storm blows over."
"Can we go," the taller one asks.
"Go to the town, sure." I answered.
"No, I mean, can we go to Arizona with you? We won't be any trouble and we have money. We can help pay for the gas and food."
I was stunned. Two strangers, girls at that, wanted to go to Arizona with me. Well, maybe not with me, but away from here anyway. I wondered what was going on. There was something under the surface here and did I want to get involved?
It took another hour to get to the town. I was thinking the entire way about my very quiet guests. I saw a diner that was open and decided I should eat, so I stopped. The girls just sat there as I got out of the truck, taking the thermos with me to refill.
"Come on girls, you can't stay out here. The truck won't offer much shelter without the heater running, so come on into the diner. I'll spring for dinner or supper or whatever it is."
Slowly and cautiously the two got out and followed me into the diner. I slid into one side of a booth and they sat across from me. There was only two other customers in the diner; they looked like truckers sitting out the storm. After a couple of minutes the girls took off their blankets and parkas and I got my first good look at both of them.
The bigger of the two was about 16 I guessed. She wasn't really pretty, but sorta wholesome with the girl next door look. The smaller one was a few years younger. It was obvious they were related, the family resemblance was very strong.
After the waitress had taken our order, I turned back to the girls and said, "Okay, what's the deal ladies? Why were you on the road in this storm and why do you want to go to Arizona with me? And by the way, who are you?"
.... There is more of this story ...