It was a dark and stormy night...
OK so it's the moldiest cliché in literature. It also happens to be true. A moonless night during the big '86 monsoons down in Tucson.
The meteorologists were calling it a 100-year storm. The kind of heavy rainfall that only hits the desert once a century.
The streets were flooded, and arroyos and normally dry rivers and dry washes were overflowing everywhere.
Anyone with a lick of common sense was staying home and indoors.
Me? I wasn't that bright. I was headed home from a friend's party. It was almost midnight, and the storm had been raging for hours.
I decided to try a run for home, figuring that my Jeep Cherokee would get me through minor floods, and I thought I could find a route around the major floods.
I had just had a big Cummins diesel engine installed in the Jeep, along with an extra 40-gallon fuel tank. I had a heavy-duty winch on the front and I damn near needed a ladder to get into the drivers seat. So I was better equipped than most to go out into the storm.
I stopped at a grocery store a few blocks from my friend's house, and stocked up on some chow, figuring that I would be stuck at the house for a few days at least.
Leaving the store, I got out my street map to plot a route to avoid the lower lying areas. Finally deciding on a plan, I headed out. There was only one stretch of the route I worried about, having several relatively low areas between high, steep hills. The first part of the trip went smoothly, I made it through some minor street flooding, then turned south to make the run towards Valencia road.
The first few low areas had only a foot or so of water, and I passed through them easily. I came up on a station wagon that had stalled out in the middle of one of the dips. I used my bumper to push the car out of the water and up to the top of the hill to safety.
I stopped to see if the people were ok. All I could see through the driving rain was the hand of the driver poking out through the partially opened window waving me on. I flashed my lights and started off.
As soon as I started down the next hill, I slammed on the brakes. I knew this road well, and there was at least 10 feet of water over the road in front of me.
I backed up and turned around, thinking that my friend's party would still be going on, and I could crash on his couch, or even in my Jeep if he ran out of room inside.
I passed the station wagon and waved.
Then I felt a strange rumbling that shook even the big Jeep.
I stopped before starting down the hill, with my headlights shining down into the wash in front of me. When I turned on the spotlight and cranked it around to point off to the side, I saw one of the scariest sights of my life.
A 15-foot wall of water came boiling down the wash, carrying boulders, trees, and at least one very battered car along the leading edge. I was far above the crest of the water, but I still backed up in a hurry.
I continued backing up until my driver's window was even with the driver's window in the station wagon. I rolled my window down a bit and called over to the other car. I saw the driver's window roll down an inch or two. "Road's flooded in both directions now. Looks like we're stuck here until it goes down."
The other driver didn't answer, just rolled up their window.
I shut the Jeep off to conserve fuel, even though I still had 7/8 of the main tank and the spare tank was full.
I crawled over the back of the front seat and into the back of the Jeep. I was glad that I had folded the rear seats down for more cargo room.
I dug out my desert survival kit and then cracked a couple of the windows on the side of the Jeep away from the wind, Then I pumped up the Coleman lantern and lit it. I took stock of my supplies. I had beer and sodas and 6 1-gallon jugs of water.
I had lunchmeats and bread, Mayo and Mustard; I even had canned soups and other assorted chow.
I had a sudden thought, and dug into my side compartments. Sure enough, my Coleman stove and a Sterno stove with a dozen cans of fuel were in one side storage bin.
On the other side, there were the mess kits that I used when I went fishing and camping. So I could cook and I had no worries about going thirsty.
And I always kept a couple of blankets and a pillow in the Jeep, since I never knew when I would end up sleeping in it.
In the grocery store, I had grabbed a few paper back books and some magazines just in case. I got bored at home before the floods dried up, so I settled down against the pillow, adjusted the Coleman lantern, and opened the first book.
Along about 1AM, I got sleepy, shut the lantern off, rolled up in the blankets, and dropped right off to sleep.
The rain still lashed against the Jeep, and the lightning and thunder was continuous. The wind rocked the Jeep slightly, but I was too tired to worry about it.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of someone tapping on the driver's window.
I sat up and leaned over the seat to roll the window down.
"Hi, I hate to bother you, but do you have any toilet paper?"
The rain was still pouring down, and the girl's red hair was wet and straggly as the water ran down her face.
"Sure, Just a second." I told her. I reached into the back and grabbed a 4 pack of Charmin.
I popped open the glove box and took out one of those compact umbrellas.
The kind where you push the button and it extends and opens automatically.
I handed her the umbrella first, then once she had it open, I handed her the toilet paper. "Thanks." she said. Then headed around to the other side of her car.
I rolled up the window again and opened the other side windows a bit more.
I set up the Coleman stove and made some coffee with the old battered blue coffee pot from my mess kit. I had just started frying bacon and eggs when the girl tapped on the window again.
I rolled the window down.
"Here's the toilet paper back." She said. "Keep it." I told her, "I have another 4 pack in here, and you can keep the umbrella too."
"Thanks." The girl said, she started to turn away, and then she stopped and sniffed. "You have hot coffee?" She asked incredulously.
"Yup," I said. "I'm just now making breakfast. Would you like a cup?"
The girl hesitated a moment.
"Can you spare 2 cups? My friend would probably want one too."
"No problem." I told her.
I dug out a couple of the plastic drink mugs that I seem to accumulate by the score. I poured 2 of the better ones full of coffee and popped the lids on.
I opened the glove box again and dug out some packets of creamer and sugar and handed it all to the girl.
"Here ya go." I said.
She gave me a smile and went back to her car.
I rolled up the driver's window again and stretched out to have breakfast and finish the rest of the book I had started the night before.
I set the pan on top of the Jeep where the roof rack would hold it in place, and let the rain wash it clean. The paper plate and the plastic fork I had used, I simply put into the plastic trash bag on the floorboard.
For lunch I made sandwiches and popped open a can of soda.
I beeped my horn and rolled down the driver's window again. The girl rolled down her window about halfway. "If you are hungry over there, I have plenty of food over here."
"No, we're OK." the girl said.
I just rolled up my window and started the Jeep,
I let it idle to keep the batteries up while I turned on the radio to hear the weather report. It didn't sound good. The national Weather Service was predicting at least another 3 to 6 days of heavy rains before the storm system would die out.
A moment later I heard another tapping on the window.
This time when I rolled the window down, a different girl stood there. This one a big busted blonde.
"Cheryl may be paranoid, but I'm hungry." She said.
I scooted over to the passenger side.
"Come on in." I told her.
She opened the door and slipped in quickly before too much rain got in. "Hi, my name is Mandy." She held out her hand and I shook it.
"And my name is Bill."
I gestured to the back of the Jeep.
"Help yourself." I told Mandy. "There are chips of all kinds, bread, lunch meat, and all the fixings. Make yourself something and take some back for Cheryl."
Mandy scrambled into the back of the Jeep, I admired the view that she presented. She had a nice, tight rump and long tanned legs that her shorts showed off very well.
She kicked off her shoes before clambering over the seat. I appreciated the courtesy.
"Cheryl is sure that you are an axe murderer or something." Mandy said as she busied herself making sandwiches.
"Grab a 6 pack of sodas for the two of you while you're back there." I replied.
"Well, are you?" Mandy asked playfully.
"Am I what?" I asked. I was a little slow on the uptake at the moment, being distracted by the view of her rump wagging in the air as she rummaged through the grocery bags
. "Are you an axe murderer?" Mandy laughed.
"Of course not." I replied. "How does one murder an axe anyway? Strangulation seems pointless, no neck to squeeze, Likewise poison is out. Maybe you could shoot it or burn it at the stake..."
Mandy was howling with laughter. "I'll tell that to Cheryl just like you said it."
She climbed over the seat again with her loot." Can we take a couple of these magazines?" Mandy asked.
"Sure." I said. "Help yourself."
"You're a treasure." Mandy said.
She slipped on her shoes and opened the door.
.... There is more of this story ...