It had begun snowing three hours earlier, back in Nebraska. The snow slowly but steadily increased in intensity until now, as I was driving, or trying to, along I-80 somewhere in Iowa, between Omaha and Des Moines, where the snow had become a full fledged blizzard.
Conditions were not yet at whiteout level, but the very next thing to it. Stupidly, Id kept driving. I should of sought shelter at least two hours ago, but the transition to blizzard conditions was so gradual that I didnt realize I was in trouble until it was too late. I was creeping along at thirty miles an hour or less, usually less, groping my way along and trying to stay on the road.
I was on my way home to Peoria, Illinois, from a business trip to Denver. Id found the perfect Christmas gift for my parents and I was bringing it with me. I was twenty-eight and was three years past a messy divorce. Thank God there were no kids to be involved. I was headed home to a bleak Christmas in a bleak apartment in a bleak, downtown Peoria. I would have an enjoyable time with my parents on a farmstead in Iroquois County, but then it would be back to Peoria and my job. That is, I would be if I survived this blizzard.
All the road signs had long since been obliterated by the snow, driven by the fierce, straight west wind. Add to that the constant problem of the wipers and windshield icing up as the heater/defroster just could not keep up. Seeing overhead signs, or any others that warned of off ramps and/or gave location information were as impossible to see as the off ramps themselves. The only reason I could see much at all, was my driving with the wind that was driving the snow in a perfectly horizontal line around and in front of me. I was very glad indeed, to be driving my full time, all wheel drive Audi.
My headlights were next to useless. I was down to ten miles an hour when, off to my right, I saw headlights shinning into the sky at a 45 degree angle and a figure standing in their glare. Even at only ten miles an hour, it took a bit to get fully stopped on the shoulder without myself sliding into the ditch. There was a momentary flare of brilliant, white light, but it passed almost as quickly as it appeared.
The figure must have seen my brake lights go on before my pickup disappeared from his view, because the next thing I knew, the figure was knocking on the passenger side door glass. I lowered the electric window and yelled above the howl of the wind for the figure to get in. In these conditions, I was willing to risk the danger to save a life from freezing to death out there.
A somewhat elderly, male voice said, Thank you, sonny, I dont think Id of lasted much longer, waiting for someone to come by and see me. Im near froze to death.
Youre very lucky, and, youre right. You would likely have frozen quickly in the open like that. Why didnt you stay inside the vehicle with the heater?
Because, I might get missed. Anyway, I went into the ditch backwards and the tail pipe was buried in snow and maybe dirt because the engine quit pretty soon after I stopped. No engine, no heat! My names Theodore by the way, but I have always been known as Ted.
My names Frank. Glad to meet you, Ted and glad I could be of some assistance to you. Do you live somewhere nearby or are you traveling too?
I live about five miles north of the next exit. We should be getting close, so if you slow to a crawl, I think I will recognize the off ramp.
He did, but I barely got up to the overpass on that drifted ramp. My four wheel drive Audi is the only reason we did. The township road north to Teds place was as bad or worse and again, without four wheel drive, we would never have made it. The same was true of his lane. In fact, we did get stuck a few rods short of the farmhouse.
Dont worry, Frank, when the blow is over, I can get you out with my tractor and clean the lane. Right now, lets get to the house.
We made it to the house, but I think we were lost for just a bit in the off an on whiteout. I was scared and I think Ted was too, though hed never admit it. The appearance of a brief gap in the whiteout showed us the house off to our left and we made the final plunge through the waist deep drifts just as visibility dropped to zero again. We stomped as much snow off as we could on the enclosed porch and then entered the kitchen of the snug and warm farmhouse.
As we were removing our wet outer clothing, a slight sound caused me to turn around to the doorway into the interior of the house. There, wheeling through the door was a wheelchair containing an absolutely stunning woman.
DAD! she shouted, I was worried to death about you! What happened? Whos our guest?
She was a most beautiful creature Id ever seen. Long red hair, carefully brushed and combed. Brown eyes that glinted with amusement--and something else. She was the picture of a magazine cover model but she didnt need and didnt wear the extensive make-up of such a model. Full and sensuous lips lay under a pert little nose. Her crinkly little smile would melt butter.
Although not really large, her breasts were definitely there, more than a handful each. She had long arms and long, very sensual fingers--piano player fingers. Her nails were not colored, just a clear lacquer finish. She was dressed in Jeans, blouse, and a red, knit sweater.
Frank, I would like to introduce you to my daughter, Ellie. Ellie, this is Frank. He picked me up after my pickup went into the ditch just before our turn off.
Hello, Ellie, I said.
Ellie looked my way and said, Hello, Frank, and looking back to her father, she continued, I told you not to try to go out in this weather. See what happens? You could have died out there!
Its all right, Kitten, its all right. Im back and unharmed. Is this anyway to greet our guest? This looks to be a real blow and Im afraid hes stuck here for the duration.
Im sorry, replied Ellie, I imagine youre both half frozen. Let me fix you some hot chocolate.
She wheeled herself over to the cabinets and was reaching for the one above the counter.
I stepped over and asked, May I help?
Ellie, pointing, replied, That door. The Ovaltine can is on the second shelf. If you will get it down for me, please.
I caught her getting a quick look my way as I reached up for the Ovaltine.
Thank you, she said as I handed her the can. You can get out three cups, saucers, and small plates from the cabinet next to the one you were in and place them on the table, please.
The smile she gave me was beguiling.
Ellie wheeled herself over to the fridge and took out a gallon of milk. She got a large sauce pan from the lower cabinet, poured in some milk, and then measured Ovaltine into it. She stirred the mixture, and then wheeled over to the stove where she set the pan on to heat.
I set the plates, cups, and saucers on the table and found the silverware drawer where Ellie was pointing as she stirred the pan on the stove. I got out three spoons.
Forks, too, Ellie said.
I did as she bid and placed them all on the table. She got out a hot pad and placed it under the hot sauce pan on the table. From a bread box, she also produced some cinnamon twist dinner rolls, obviously home made and which she heated quickly in the microwave. We all sat down to sip our chocolate and munch on those rolls.
These rolls are exquisite, I said, and they look and taste homemade.
Thank you, I made them this morning, replied Ellie.
They are delicious! Ive never tasted better.
Ellie is quite a cook, Said Ted, she has had to be, since her mother died some years ago.
Dont let him fool you, said Ellie, Dad is quite a cook himself.
We talked on of the weather, some politics, and other stuff for some time. I even mentioned I was still recovering from a messy divorce. At one point, as I was looking at Ellie, I said, Your Christmas decorations are subtle and very good. They show a deft touch. I wish I had a Christmas present for you to place under the tree.
She smiled and said, Thank you, Frank I kept looking at Ellie much of the time as we talked and I noticed she was looking at me every time I looked her way.
It was getting late and Ted excused himself saying, Its well past my bedtime and Im done in. Im going to turn in. Ellie will show Frank to the guest room when you two decide to call it a night? Ill see you both in the morning. Goodnight.
Goodnight, Ellie and I chorused together.
When Ted had gone to bed, Ellie said, Lets go into the front room by the fire. It will be much more cozy and warm in there.
Again, the Christmas decorations were well done and subtle. The tree in the outside corner opposite the fireplace wall was aglow in its beauty. The tree and the fire were the only light sources in the room.
Frank, lift me out of the chair and set me down on the couch, will you, please?
I gently got my arms under her knees and around her back and easily transferred Ellie to the couch. I was, however, a bit awkward as I had never done anything like that before.
Ellie said, with a chuckle, Dont be afraid to grab me Frank, I wont break, at least not easily.
I blushed bright red at her comment as I replaced the blanket over her legs.
Frank, youre cute when you blush like that.
Well, youre certainly not helping me not blush with comments like that. I made that comment with a hint of a smile.
After we were comfortably seated next to each other on the couch in front of the fire, Ellie said, Tell me about yourself, Frank. What do you do? Where do you come from? And she added, Why do you keep looking at me?
.... There is more of this story ...