"I'm singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain! What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again!"
She sang lustily as she peddled up another hill. She didn't feel as upbeat as the song suggested but was afraid that, if she didn't sing the song and force herself to get into it, she just might end up only crying in the rain.
Her vacation, Janice Wheeler's vacation was turning to dirt right before her eyes. But, truth to tell, her vacation was turning to 'rain' right before her eyes.
She was already 10 miles out from her starting point, and that was a good 15 miles from home, though she'd been dropped off there, at the starting point, by a friend.
The skies had looked a bit cloudy but, after a little while, they simply closed in and began to dump rain on her.
She was now thoroughly soaked! Right through her biking outfit, down to and including her panties and bra, she was soaked to the skin. And there was no sign at all that the rain was going to stop any time soon.
She was also afraid that this was the low system that was supposed to go way, way south of where she was, and was bringing with it, gale force winds, a possibility of hail, and severe lightning.
"And here I am, like a damn fool," she said to herself, "Out in all this weather on my bike!"
Then she launched into "I'm singin' in the rain!" again to buoy up her spirits. Now, with Jan Wheeler, the tears, the crying was beginning to impinge on her image of Gene Kelly dancing or Donald O'Conner or Debbie Reynolds. Her mood holder, the song, simply wasn't working like it was supposed to.
She was crying then, and saying to herself: "Everything's wet. What a fuck-up this is!"
The vacation, the biking vacation was supposed to be a grand getaway for her. She'd planned and consulted the forecast, but, as usual, the forecast was wrong, way wrong too.
She'd selected this route because it was so rural and she'd be more or less alone on it, and that was precisely what she was, alone on it.
She was in a fix and she knew it, she just didn't know how to get out of it, since she was so far away from her start point, and also, she'd checked, out of phone reach.
She cried as she peddled along, sobbing for the loss of her carefully planned getaway vacation.
"SHIT!" she yelled and then she yelled it again, and then she started the song again: "I'm singin' in the rain..."
It wasn't working. She could hear the thunder off to her right and knew that, that was even more of a danger to her. She peddled on.
Toiling in the same direction, through the same storm but hi and dry and safe, Chris Logan was talking to his companion, Boney, a shaggy, black and white mongrel that had a total love relationship with Chris.
They were out on an adventure for themselves. Chris had gotten all of his four weeks of vacation together this year and planned to set out with Boney to see some of the southwest. They were toiling through the hills of Missouri and through this major storm.
Chris and Boney were out for this month in his VW Rialta RV. He'd purchased it for this vacation specifically and had a number of weekend shakedown cruises with it.
Chris was, in addition to being a good detective, an excellent mechanic. He'd gotten that from his dad, Ken, who was also both a good cop and a great mechanic. So, Chris was certain that he'd be able to take care of what might happen but the Rialta was a new one and he had great confidence in it.
"Well, buddy," Chris said to Boney, "This storm is getting worse, I think that we'll pull in at Johnson's Grove. It's on the top of the next rise and they have hookups there. We'll settle in there and ride out the front that's dumping all this rain on us. What do you say?"
As though he knew that he was being addressed, Boney barked.
"Yes, I'm glad that you agree with me!" Chris said.
They were approaching the hill then. The rain had increased and was coming down with a fury. He heard thunder that was nearby, with the accompanying lightning.
Chris, then strained his eyes to see what was happening and saw that it was indeed a bike rider toiling through the storm and going up the hill.
Chris had, had a rig installed on the back of the Rialta to carry bikes, which he used for exercises in places that he stopped.
He passed the bike rider, who raised a hand and waved to him.
"Yep, Boney, old boy," he said, "This won't do; we'd better stop and rescue the fair maiden."
Chris stopped at the brow of the hill, knowing that he was only a few miles from Johnson's. He waited for her and saw her coming. Then, grabbing his slicker and an umbrella, he got out.
She stopped and it was then that he realized that she was crying.
"Sorry," she said right away.
"No," he said, "This won't do! Not at all! Boney and I insist that you take a ride from us!"
"Boney?" she said, the tears still streaming down her cheeks.
He pointed to the passenger seat, where the black and white, shaggy dog was looking, tongue out and kind of grinning. It gave Janice a short but fleeting smile.
"Yes," she said, "Even if you're a white slaver!"
Chris laughed and said: "Wrong side of the law! I'm a cop: Chris Logan, sergeant Chris Logan! And you already know Boney!"
"Boney?" she asked.
"Fascinated by Napoleon and a history buff," he explained. "But let's get you inside and dried off. Leave your bike here," he went on. "I'll show you where to get yourself righted. You have dry clothes?"
"Don't think so," Janice said, beginning to sob again.
"No problem," Chris said, "I have stuff for you. Let me show you."
He took her into the Rialta. She stood in the doorway, petting an insistent Boney and said: "Oh, this is so nice! But I'm getting everything all wet."
"Don't worry," Chris said, "There's carpet on the floor and it'll dry just fine."
He went to a drawer that had his clothes and fetched out for her a pair of running pants, and a sports jersey.
"There's a curtain that is rigged up front," he said, "I'll pull the curtain and the side window curtains to give you privacy to change."
"Thank you," she said, softly. "If I weren't so wet, sergeant, I'd give you a hug!"
"I'll take a wet hug any day!" he said, with a kind of joy in his voice.
She hugged him then and shook with her sobbing.
"It all turned so crappy in such a hurry," she said into his shoulder, "With this storm."
"Yes, it's going to get a bit worse," he said. "We're headed for Johnson's Grove; it's only a few miles further on and has electric hookups. And I don't think there'll be anyone there just now. We'll stay there, if you don't mind!"
"Mind?" she snorted, "I was going to put up a wet tent and get into a wet sleeping bag! And here you've rescued me!"
He noticed that she was shaking then.
"Okay," he said, "I'll hitch up your bike. Tell me when you're changed and ready, okay?"
"Yes, thank you," she said, her teeth chattering.
He fetched a blanket for her and gave it to her.
"Into dry clothes quickly and wrap in the blanket. I can make us some coffee or tea then."
"Good, thank you," she responded.
"Oh, and in that top drawer," he indicated which drawer that he was talking about, "There are shorts. Pick out whatever you need."
She smiled and barely suppressed a giggle then. She was feeling better already.
"You might have to put up with the voyeur dog though," Chris said.
She giggled and said: "Boney's welcome."
"Well," Chris said with a grin, "Smile into his collar. It's the camera!"
"Sergeant!" she said in a severe voice.
"Sorry!" he said with a grin. "I'm going out now to fix up your bike. I'll be in the front seats, when you're all ready."
"Thanks!" she said.
Take care of her, Boney!" he said, and got a barking reply from the shaggy dog.
He went out then, after pulling the curtain across the front and the curtains on the windows.
Janice sighed, as she gratefully climbed out of her very wet clothes. There was a laundry basket there and she put her bicycle clothes into the basket.
Boney sat and simply watched her, and when she looked at him, he wagged his tail and beat his tail on the floor.
When she had her clothes off totally, a thought crossed her mind and she looked at Boney's collar, remembering what Chris had said, and she waved, giggling as she did it.
She picked out a pair of purple, nylon shorts that were cut for a man but looked like they'd fit her. She was still shivering a bit but felt better already, once she put on the running pants and the jersey.
She also then wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and sighed, feeling much, much warmer.
She began then, for the first time, to look around at the ambience of the RV.
"Ready!" she said and Chris pulled the curtains back. He was smiling.
"New you!" he said.
"And warmer!" she mentioned.
She insisted then on hugging him, with the blanket around her and him, and said a sincere 'thank you' for the rescue from the storm, which was still raging outside.
Chris had put his slicker away and asked her if she'd like a cup of tea or coffee before they went on to Johnson's Grove.
"Lovely!" she said, sitting in one of the side chairs as he went about making the coffee for them.
"Out for a vacation?" he asked, as he worked at the coffee.
"Yes," she said, "Long planned and I thought that the storm was going to be quite a bit south of us."
"Yes," he said, "Weather forecast was wrong in this case, and it's a bruiser too."
"Don't I know that!" she said. "But I planned to ride on for a number of days and just see where I turned up."
"Work?" he asked pleasantly, "You already know that I'm a cop."
"Are you really?" she asked.
He laughed and said: "Look in the drawer next to you."
She opened the drawer and found inside a badge and a gun.
"Wow!" she said, "Cop!"
"Detective, actually," he said.
"Cool!" was her reply to that.
"Been on the force for ten years," he said. "Went to it out of the service, and have loved it ever since."
Then she said, "Im a nurse; ER trained but am between jobs now and promised myself to take my long planned biking vacation before going back to look for a job, and you see how that is working out."
"Only a slight bump in the road!" he said.
"Yes," she replied, "Thanks to you and lovely Boney."
The dog's tail thumped on the floor, when he heard his name. She reached down and scratched his ears for him, getting a panting reaction with Boney's tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth.
He went outside then and lashed her bicycle to the bike rack in the back. When that was done, he went back inside, carrying now with him her bags, so that she could sort things out and hang them up to dry.
Jan had taken off and stowed the blanket then, feeling much better.
"It's nice to feel human again," she said.
"Here's your stuff," he mentioned and then noticed that the coffee was ready for them.
"Coffee?" he asked.
"Mmm, love some!" she said, looking around. "It's snug and warm in here!"
"How about, after the coffee, if I give you the five cents tour?"
"I'd like that," she answered, sitting down and accepting the cup of coffee from him.
"Thank you," she said, "Not only for the coffee but for taking me in and all."
"Well," he said, "It'll be a kind of an adventure!"
Then, while he was getting the coffee ready, she took out her pile of wet things and hung them up in the shower stall to get them dry.
She looked at him then and asked: "Girl friend? Don't mean to pry but don't want to get you in trouble with anyone."
"No," he said, "Up to now it's been the force, haven't gotten just around to romancing a woman. It's been me and Boney."
(He patted Boney on the head, when he said that.)
"Had a fiancé," she said, "That wandered off in the middle of our engagement. Kind of backed away from that kind of thing after that."
"Well," he said, "Ready to go on? Johnson's is a little ways ahead of us and it might be a good place to weather this storm."
They drove on and found Johnson's Grove about another five miles further on. They were, at that time, the only ones there.
It was an honor system place and he filled out a sheet and put it and his fee in a large metal box that was there for that purpose.
They moved into one of the sheltered sites and he went about hooking up the water and the electricity to the RV. He soon had them all set.
"Here we are!" he said, going back inside, and taking his slicker off.
"You know," he said, turning to Janice, "You might want to lie down a bit. I know how rigorous that climb was for a bike."
"I think that I'd like that," she said.
"Okay," he replied, "I'll put some music on to hide Boney and my noise, though I'm going to do some reading.
"Oh," she said, "What are you reading?"
"Trying to plunge my way through Faulkner!" he said.
"Challenge!" was her reply.
"Yes, I like challenges!" he said.
She went in then and lay down on one of the couches that turn into beds.
He sat out in the front of the RV and read his Faulkner for a while, giving her the resting time.
It was peaceful and welcomed for her, after her ordeal with the rain and the storm.
They used the shelter of the trees during that early part of the evening to wait out at least part of the storm.
They were at a high point in the landscape there and Chris was able to get a signal for his pad and his phone. The weather report on the phone looked fair; it seemed that it would clear but take another day or so to do that.
Janice came out off of the couch, after a nap that did her good. She stood and yawned, and beyond the curtain between the front seats and the cabin, where she was, she heard him say:
"It's the princess," he said, once he heard her moving around. "What say, princess!"
He heard Janice giggle in the back of the RV and then she moved the curtain and said 'Hi' to him and Boney.
Boney began immediately to rap his tail on the front seat, once she said her greeting.
"Boy, did I ever need that!" she said, with a yawn. "It was wonderful!"
"Yes," he agreed, "Have been in that situation myself and putting up with the elements down deep and personal is a tiring kind of thing."
"Sure is!" she said, and she laughed a bit.
"Yes?" he asked.
"I was singing the song 'singin' in the rain', as I climbed the one hill in order to keep my sprits up!"
"Work?" he wanted to know.
"Only now and then," she said, going to where Boney had given up his front seat for her to talk to Chris. "I kept on breaking out in tears, once I realized that the storm had put 'paid' to my marvelous biking vacation."
"Well," Chris offered, "I bet that your things are at least beginning to dry out and really no decision needs to be made until tomorrow."
"What about weather?" she wanted to know.
"Looks to me," he said, "Like we won't ride this one out until late tomorrow or the morning after."
"Ohhh," she said, with little enthusiasm.
She was silent for a few minutes and then said: "I just don't know what to do! Riding in this damn weather doesn't appeal to me at all. What a cock-up this vacation is turning out to be."
"Well," Chris said, "There's an alternative!"
"What?" she wanted to know.
"Well, seeing that my man Boney is already in love with you, why not team up with us and go down into Arizona and the southwest? I was planning to find places to do some hiking and biking down that way, and you're welcome to tag along. We can work out a schedule for bathroom use and all that will keep us from being in each other's hair too much. Plus, once I get this lovely vehicle settled at a good site, I can pitch a tent to the side and that ads a whole extra room for us."
She look at him and smiled.
He held up a hand then and said: "I know it's probably a crazy idea and all but it's an invitation, Janice, and not an attempt at seduction."
She giggled and said: "No, Boney would protect my honor, I'm sure! And I might call the cops."
He laughed along with her and said: "I am the cops! That he would; old Boney is the best of us for sure!"
He ruffled Boney's shaggy head, when he said that and got a bark in return from a very happy dog.
"Meanwhile, you think of that," he said, "And we can conspire now to have some dinner."
"Oh, I'm interested in seeing how you cook in this marvelous vehicle!" she said with some enthusiasm.
They spent the next half hour on the dinner. Chris did things so that she could see how easily it was to get around and do the cooking in the RV.
"Oh, I love this!" she said, "You must let me try it all out soon!"
"Excellent idea!" he said, "Boney always says that I'm not an imaginative enough cook for his tastes!"
The dinner proved to be excellent and they both worked at the washing and drying of things.
She went then and felt her hanging clothes.
"I'm sorry to have my things hanging all over the interior of your RV," she said.
"Not a problem, princess," he said, "Needs to be done and the things need to be dried."
"Thank you," she said, truly appreciative of his kindnesses.
"Do you want to read a bit after dinner or have a drink and turn in early?" he asked.
"You know," she said, "I think I'd like to have the drink and turn in early, if that's okay with you?"
"Yes, fine," he said.
They had a glass of wine and then talked for about an hour, telling each other about their separate professional lives, her passion for nursing and his passion for the police. It was a pleasant evening for them.
She yawned after a while and he smiled.
"Okay, it's time," he said. "When I can get that tent up, I would stay out there in a sleeping bag but for tonight, I'm afraid that it's her couch and his couch. You get ready first and then I'll slip into my pjs and come in."
She giggled: "Pj's for the cop!"
"Well, not usual but don't tell anyone, and I've sworn Boney to silence, and be assured that if you feel a pressure on your bed tonight, it's that rascal Boney looking to bed down with you," he finished with a smile and she laughed.
"This is ingenious," she said, "The way that it becomes a bedroom, once it's needed."
"Let me show you!" he said, and, with her watching, he hauled out the two couches so that they came down into a double bed.
"Wow!" she said, "As I said before: ingenious!"
"I'm going to go outside now for a bit and check our perimeter, while you get ready," he said.
"Yes," she said, "It'll be pj's for me tonight also."
He pulled the curtains closed and before he set the curtain that closed them off from the front, he went to the drawer and took out his pistol and attached it to his belt and went out.
Janice was humming to herself, while she washed, after using the toilet.
"He's so nice!" she said to herself, "And that Boney!" She was fairly lost in her rhapsodizing.
She finally had her pj's on, pink ones, and was under the covers of her respective couch and called out to him.
"Yes," he said, "We're fine out here. No one else using Johnson's tonight."
"Make me feel safe," she said, as he came back in and replaced the gun in the drawer.
He drew the curtains again then and got his own pj bottoms on in the gap between the front seats, and then he went in.
"All locked up and secure," he said, "And I pity anyone trying to slip past Boney and get in here. I mean that I can certainly take care of myself, of us but Boney is a tiger, when it comes to watching.
"Nice!" she said in a voice a little above a whisper.
"You must be really tired," he said, sitting on the couch opposite hers.
"Yes," she said softly, "That kind of day for sure! And thank you again for rescuing me! It was a life saver!"
"Our pleasure, princess!" he said.
She quietly said then: "I'll like a hug, please!"
"With greatest pleasure," he said, and went to her 'bed' and put his arms around her. She clung to him and, for a few seconds lived it again, and let out a sob. He just held her and then she heard him:
"I'm singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again. I'm laughing at clouds so dark up above. The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love!"
"You are so nice, copper!" she said finally and kissed his cheek.
Running through his mind at a furious pace were the words: "Didn't that feel good! Didn't she feel good!"
It had been an active enough day that they both slept quickly, and, after just a little bit, Janice felt a weight on her bed and then Boney snuggled down with her for the night.
He was up first in the morning. The previous day had been strenuous enough for Janice that she simply slept in for a while.
Meanwhile, he took Boney outside for a bit of a walk. He stayed in the immediate area though. She was awake, by the time he and Boney returned.
She was sitting up and smiling at him.
"How'd you sleep, princess?" he asked.
She stretched and yawned: "Like I'm a new woman!" was her answer.
"Good for you," he said. "How about if I make coffee and then we each get dressed and ready. There's a great place for breakfast that's not to far away. I've been here before.
"Sounds like a plan," she said.
"Okay to shower later or would you like to now?" he asked.
"Are you inviting me?" she said, before thinking and then she blushed, while he laughed.
"Well, I wasn't but it's not that bad an idea!" She joined him in the laugh then.
They each had coffee and he went outside to give her some time to get dressed, and then it was his turn, since he was still in his pjs and a tee shirt that he put on to take Boney outside.
They drove for a short while and pulled into a restaurant that was outside of a small city. The sign out front proclaimed that it was 'Georgia's Place'.
"Here we are!" Chris said, and they went in together.
As soon as they got in the door, a large redheaded lady, whose hair was up in a bun shouted: "Okay put the drugs away it's the cops!"
Chris was smiling broadly as the big, florid woman emerged from behind the counter and grabbed him for a hug.
"Who's your honey, Chris?" the woman said.
"Georgia, this is Janice Wheeler; Janice this is Georgia; it's her place."
"Pleased to meet you, honey!" Georgia said, getting a hug. "Always wanted to meet the woman who would reel in Chris Logan."
"Well, hardly that!" Janice said with a smile.
"Well, old Georgia knows what she knows," the big woman said, leading them to a table.
Then suddenly she looked around and said to Chris: "Alright, where is he? Still in the land of the living? Where's my love Boney?"
Chris laughed and said: "As long as you've asked, I'll go and fetch him from the rig."
Chris went out and Janice told Georgia, who was sitting with her, about Chris having rescued her the previous day.
"Yes, just like him!" Georgia said. "But if you're scheming for him, then I wish you luck to go and get him. He's a babe. But then, honey, so are you!" She kissed Janice on the cheek, after she'd said this.
Then Chirs brought in Boney who got special attention from Georgia and something to eat before Chris and Janice had a chance to order.
They had breakfast, with Georgia sitting with them and Boney on the floor under the table, getting scraps now and again from both Janice and Chris.
Chris talked about his and Boney's plans to drive to Arizona and Utah and do some looking around.
"I hear it's lovely country," Georgia said, and then, turning to Janice said: "And you, honey?"
"Don't just know," Janice said. "Lost some of my enthusiasm for a biking only vacation in those storms that almost drowned me."
"I understand that," Georgia said, "Well, you just let the cops take care of you!"
She laughed, when she said it but Janice remembered her statement.
They set out from there, from Georgia's place, and put off any decision about where Janice would indeed go her own way.
Both of them, at this point, were thinking about it. But it was Chris that brought it up, though at almost the same time that Janice had it in mind.
"We need to talk about where you're going," Chris said, and she laughed.
"What?" he asked.
"I was thinking the very same thing and was going to bring it up," she said.
He jumped in quickly and said: "You know, I could use a crew member! I know it's more than half crazy, since we hardly know each other but ... I really feel at home with you already."
"Yes," she said, agreeing. Then, after a few minutes thought, and with a smile on her face: "Crew member. I talked to Boney about it last night and he said that you need someone to take care of you!"
"Got that right," he said to her, "Boney certainly knows. So, how about it?"
"What are your specific plans?" she asked.
"Wanted to drive down through Utah maybe a detour to the Grand Canyon and through Monument Valley, also visit Sedona in Arizona. There are some great national parks to visit in Utah, and then back home after a while. You have a time limit?" he asked.
"Not really," she said, "Between jobs now and simply gave myself time off. I know you understand how the pressure can build up for you, both in my job and in yours. I'm sure that I can get a job, once I get back but wanted some free time. My thought, until I got drenched, was to just ride the bike until I thought it was time to ride it back."
"Well," he said, "How about Utah, Arizona and Monument Valley?"
"Lovely!" she answered, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "You've got a crew member!"
He grinned and said: "Hear that, Boney? We're going together!"
"Want to make lunch or stop and buy?" he asked.
"Let's make lunch," she said, "What do you have?"
"Well, I have stuff but we should plan to stop at a grocery store and stock up for ourselves," he answered.
They made that their plan for the next town that they visited. They both helped make the grocery selections, catering to both of their tastes.
They went on a little bit that day, and the rain started to actually show signs of having gone, for the most part, northwest of them. They drove out of it, after a while.
They stopped at a camp site in Western Kansas for the night. Since they'd done some grocery shopping, they had things to fix for dinner and cooperated in getting the meal set.