Nothing In My Hands, Chapter 19
By Del Starr, a pseudonym, all rights reserved. Posted Sept. 24, 2015
The Angels of the Lord
It would take a week for the new alternator to arrive for Dianne’s pickup, and she did not relish the thought of staying in Moses Lake without transportation for a week. She checked into the warranty policy, since the truck was almost brand new.
The policy read that she would be provided with a rental car during the time that the vehicle was in the shop for repairs, if so needed. It was needed. Dianne rented a small car.
She weighed her options. She could stay at the motel in Moses Lake or she could, using the small car, return to Portland for the week. It would be cheaper to go to Portland, so she headed out. She loved to surprise her family in all sorts of ways, and giggled at the thought of their faces when she drove up in a little car.
South to Tri Cities, maneuvering her way through the highway changes, Dianne found the road to Oregon. She pulled up the long steep hill and suddenly she was in a dust storm.
It had come from seemingly nowhere but now enveloped the highway in impenetrable cloud. Dianne could barely see but made out brake lights on that the car ahead of her. She slammed on the brakes.
The car jolted in a sickening crunch. At first, she was completely confused and disoriented, but as the car spun crazily out of control, Dianne desperately trying to find the brake pedal, she realized she had been hit from behind.
Finally, the car stopped. Dianne grabbed the mic for the CB radio. She had passed truckers, and she was terrified that they too, might enter the dust storm and be blinded to the wrecked vehicles.
“Don’t come in here!” she cried.
The airwaves came alive with truckers talking about the situation. It was noted that there had been an accident and other trucks were warned to avoid the area. A call was made for someone to call the police and ambulances. Once more Dianne grabbed the mic. “We’re fine,” she said, “We don’t need an ambulance.”
A voice answered her, “Lady, there are people dead and dying around here. We DO need an ambulance.”
Realizing that she was not aware of all the events that had transpired, Dianne laid down her mic and just listened It was chaotic as truckers gave their positions and revealed their situations. A car had gone under one trailer. The passenger was dead.
Dianne was stunned.
Police cars and ambulances crawled through the blowing and swirling dust. Dianne coughed and gasped. One officer went from car to car, checking on the occupants and handing out dust masks. Breathing better, she waited. She was not seriously injured and would be one of the last to be evacuated.
Sporadically, the dust would clear and then begin to swirl again. Dianne looked to her left. Three feet from the driver’s door was the edge of the highway. The oncoming traffic lanes were below. The drop-off was about 100 feet to that other section of highway. Dianne sent up a silent prayer of thanksgiving. God had stopped her car just three feet from death’s edge.
It was finally Dianne’s turn to board the ambulance.
At the hospital the chaos continued. Dianne heard smatterings of conversation. “decapitated,” “smashed with no chance,” “kids.” She knew that the accident had been-horrendous. It was later determined that there had been 28 cars involved and three fatalities. Only Dianne’s big toe was broken. Her seat had broken away in the accident. While she had been reaching for the brake pedal, her foot had been hitting the dash. Her toe was broken trying to stop, not in the accident.
Dianne’s heart was turned to God from whence came her help. She was convinced of it and knew that somehow, God cared for her even though she was not able to be saved and was truly bad. “Why me, Lord?” she questioned as she offered her gratitude.
A week later Dianne’s truck was ready and once more she headed for Montana.
The only motels in the area were in the town of Poison, seven miles from where Dianne would be working in Pablo. The parking lot of the Super 8 motel would accommodate her trailer and Dianne checked in. She would be there for four days, available during all three shifts at the mill. This was normal in her job and she was there when needed.
When the job was nearly complete and Dianne planned to leave in the morning after a brief clean up job, it began to snow. Would she have to winter over in Montana? She was a week behind schedule and had no idea of the weather patterns here. As she talked with the employees of the company, she expressed her fears.
The manager of the mill came in. As they chatted, Dianne spoke of her fear of snow on Lookout Pass between Montana and Idaho. The manager chuckled softly as he told her, “This isn’t anything. This will be gone in a little bit. We get snow like this at this time of the year but it never stays.”
Sure, Dianne thought; and he doesn’t have to take a trailer over that pass.
A little later, the manager spoke to Dianne as he was leaving. “Have you ever been to the National Bison Range?”
When Chad had accompanied Dianne they had wanted to go to the bison range but they were nearly out of fuel and using the company fuel cards. Knowing they would need to return to Missoula to fill up, they had missed the range. “No,” she said.
“Would you like to go? From there you can see what this snow is doing.”
“Yes, I would.” Dianne smiled.
“Good. I’ll pick you up at your motel this afternoon. Where are you staying?”
Dianne told him her motel and room number.
“See you at three,” the manager said.
Dianne planned carefully when she traveled, to make certain that she had adequate fresh clothing for each day, but she didn’t pack extras, and her clothing supply was nearly exhausted. She didn’t feel her “traveling clothes” were appropriate, so going to the Bison Range with the manager meant that she needed to do a load of laundry. When she finished the job for that day she drove quickly to her motel and then to the Laundromat.
At three o’clock she was freshly showered and attired in clean clothing. She climbed in the manager’s company pickup and settled in for the drive to the Bison Range.
“OH, MY!” she exclaimed. Shortly after their entrance to the Bison Range a huge buffalo was standing in the roadway. It was enormous and as ugly as it was big. Dianne was fascinated.
The roadway climbed the mountain. Around corners they went, twisting and turning their way to the top. Dianne observed every imaginable kind of animal. There were big horn sheep, mule deer, white-tail deer, prong-horned antelope, mountain goats and, high atop the mountain, tucked back in the evergreen trees, Dianne saw an elk in a classic pose. She was thrilled.
At the top of the mountain, Peter, as she now called the manager, pulled off on an overlook. Dianne could see all the way to Kalispell. She could see why Montana was called “Big Sky Country.”
She was also able to see that what Peter said about the snow was true. There were only patches here and there and those were melting in the afternoon sun.
Finishing their tour of the Bison Range, Peter asked Dianne if she would like to stop for dinner. Why, of course she would. They stopped at an intimate little dinner club and didn’t stop chattering all through the meal.
When Peter took Dianne back to her motel, she asked if he would like to come in and have a cup of coffee. He accepted, and she offered him the key to her room. Then she got her coffee pot out of her now-packed truck.
“You carry a coffee pot?” Peter exclaimed.
“Yes,” Dianne responded. “My hours are such that I never can be sure that I can find coffee and I do drink an awful lot of it.” She grinned.
They sat drinking coffee at the little table in front of the window. Dianne opened the curtains so that they could look out over the fields. They talked and talked and talked. They were comfortable together.
The time slipped by quickly and too soon it was time for Dianne to return for the graveyard shift at the mill. They said their “thank you’s” to each other and Peter climbed into his company pickup and left. Dianne changed back into her work clothes and prepared to leave the room… but wait! She had no key to her room.
Somehow, Peter must have put the key in his pocket when he opened the room. Dianne didn’t really know him. She had spent an enjoyable afternoon with him but all of it had been in public. Even the time in the motel had been with the curtains open so the world could observe. Well no matter, she must now get to work and so she stuffed tissue paper in the lock of the door to keep it from latching. She would worry about the rest when she returned in a few hours.
Her job finished, Dianne returned to her motel room. She opened the door and flipped on the light. Not taking any chances, she looked under the bed and desk, into the tiny closet space, and in the bathroom. There was no sign of Peter.
Relieved, she closed the door and set the night latch. She even took one more precaution, taking the chair from the desk and propping it firmly under the door handle. She wasn’t sure why Peter had her key but she knew he would not enter her room that night. She showered and crawled in between the crisp white sheets. Within moments she fell into a dreamless sleep.
The alarm rang. Dianne was awake. One more short shift and she would head for home. Eagerly she slipped into her clothes and packed the remainder of her things into her truck. There on the windshield was an envelope. In the envelope was a card of apology, and her key. Dianne placed the key on the nightstand and headed for the mill.
She was very nearly finished when Peter again showed up. This time he asked her if she would like to accompany him to breakfast when she finished. She really enjoyed Peter’s company and so readily agreed.
Through breakfast they laughed and talked about the key. Peter had completely forgotten about it and was terribly embarrassed when he discovered that he still had it. Dianne just found it humorous.
When breakfast was over, Peter had Dianne’s business card tucked into his shirt pocket with her home phone number written on the back. He would be in Portland the following April and she told him that if she was in town when he arrived, she would love to have dinner with him.
Peter returned to the mill and Dianne headed for Oregon.