Word Pearls: The Roanoke River rescue winds down

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:42 am

The night sky was as black as pitch. Silent heat lightening intermittently winked at me from the edges of the horizon, reassuring me that everything was going to be alright.

I couldn’t help but envision newspaper headlines “Waylaid Driver Found Wounded ’Round Tillery’s Tallest Tree.”

I warned myself not to do anything stupid (I hate that word but it fit the occasion)! To my left, I could sense the curvaceous Roanoke River lazily meandering right along with me. Had we really travelled this far — the distance I was travelling now from Weldon to Scotland Neck — and do folks intentionally ride that river with only paddles to propel them?

Up ahead, I could see the man-made yellow halo hovering over the Caledonia State Prison Farm. Strange, how light emanating from a den of thieves can shed comfort upon a late-night rescue operation! I’ve toured Caledonia. I’ve watched the men make good of a bad situation by farming the land, canning the produce and feeding most hungry prisoners in our state. The thought of all that hard work and effort lifted my spirits.

Up ahead, I could see the Highway 258 intersection. A right turn, then a left. The starkness of the darkness was intense. I pulled up as best I could until I dared not move one foot further for fear of falling into the river. I climbed down from Black’s cab. I could not see a thing. Was this where I was supposed to be?

And then I heard him yell. “Over here, pull round over here.”

“Over here?” I yelled back, “I can’t see ‘over here’ ... I can’t see anything.”

“Trust me,” he said, “make a big circle.”

I did. There he stood. We embraced. I could relax now. My man was in charge. I slid to the passenger side of the cab; he climbed in behind the wheel, put Black into reverse and carefully backed down the ramp. It was steep and treacherous. I could make out the shape of Minnow (our boat) wiggling along the edge of the river. And there was our dog proudly protecting her.

We got out of the truck.

My husband climbed onto the neck of the trailer. With rope in hand and trying not to catch the rope on the up-ended taillight of the trailer, he began to coax her into place. He yelled for my help. “Go in and lift the rope over the light.”

“What did he just say?” I thought. “He’s gotta be out of his mind if he thinks I’m going to step into that black water.”

Then he said, “I’m not sure how far the concrete will take you so be careful that you don’t slip off the edge into the river.”

I gulped. I placed one foot in, then the other, all the way up to my thighs.

I lifted the rope round the light and made my way back out of the water.

To the rhythm of the come-along’s ratchety-ratch, Minnow climbed onto the trailer.

Because of her bad hips, darling husband lifted dog onto the bed of the truck. We climbed into the cab. Straight up the hill we drove; out of the parking area and onto the pavement.

But what in the world ... Black’s headlamps started to flicker.

“I don’t believe this,” we each said to the other. This had never happened before

I could “see” ugly bunnies holding what looked to be aluminum pie plates in front of each lamp, trying one last time to cause trouble. On and off. On and off. This went on for several miles. We persevered. We would have towed Black and Minnow home with ropes tied around our waist by that point.

Thankfully, they gave up and the lights stayed on.

We pulled into our driveway at 10 o’clock; a very boring conclusion to a most climactic day!

Where was the press? Where were the helicopters? What a story we had to tell!

But there was no one there to hear it.

Until now, that is, until now.

Donna Clements is a professional writer and motivator. You may reach Donna by phoning 252-326-9194 or emailing dc@donnaclements.com.

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