Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 26

Updated on March 22, 2018
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Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

Friends in Low Places

The basement floor holds clues to Jeb's activities.
The basement floor holds clues to Jeb's activities.

The unmistakable odor of rot and decay wafted up as the chief descended the basement stairs. A single light bulb dangled from a cord below the floor joists casting eerie shadows across the dank room. Old clothes, torn blankets and a collection of discarded items lined the walls in towering piles. The odor grew stronger as he reached the bottom step.

“Over here, Chief.” The uniformed officer pointed to a cleared area of concrete about two feet wide and five feet long that appeared lighter than the rest of the slate gray floor. His flashlight beam moved over to an area piled with empty cement bags held down by a flat-blade shovel covered in dried cement.

“What d’ya’ make of that?” the officer asked.

“Looks like we’re going to need a jackhammer and a few strong men,” the Chief said rubbing his chin.

Cockpit View of Flying the Beechcraft Twin King
Cockpit View of Flying the Beechcraft Twin King | Source

~~~~

A rescue party gathered in the hangar at the small airstrip north of the crash site. Volunteers from surrounding counties had assembled in a group ready to assist the first responders attempting the dangerous cliff-side rescue. A command structure was established and duties assigned.

“We’ll drop the first two men down right here,” the commander said pointing to a spot on a map above and to the side of the crash site. “They’ll make their way over to the craft to check for survivors. Then, we’ll secure the plane to make sure it stays put.” Two helicopters waited on the tarmac ready to take off. Inside each, a pile of ropes, lift harnesses, pick axes, medical supplies, stretchers and other gear was stashed. One chopper held the Jaws of Life borrowed from the Fire Department to split open the Beechcraft door if necessary. The team took their designated places as the whomp, whomp, whomp of the rotors lifted the craft heading into the distance with a purpose.

Twenty minutes later they circled above the upturned aircraft. Two lines dropped out of the open door as volunteers rappelled down toward the ground. Both wore heavy duty boots, helmets and communication gear. The first one to touch down sunk ankle deep into the mud. He sloshed over to stabilize his partner, then, with a circling hand motion, signaled the pilot to drop the equipment. The two men made their way closer to the downed Beechcraft one careful step at a time.

Jeb stirred at the noise the helicopters were making as they hovered over the site. His face was an ugly shade of red from being suspended upside down for so long. He felt dizzy as he watched two people in bulky gear trek ever so slowly toward him.

By Fabien1309 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, via Wikimedia Commons
By Fabien1309 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, via Wikimedia Commons | Source

~~~~

Connie and Eleanor pulled into the parking lot of the skilled nursing home where William had spent the previous two months.

“Will you come inside with me to meet my husband?” Eleanor asked after Connie shut off the engine. “He may not say too much, but believe me, he’s still aware of his surroundings.”

“Sure,” Connie said with a bravado she didn’t actually feel. She felt a certain amount of awkwardness about the visit. Nursing homes always reminded her of the finite and temporary nature of life; something as a young woman she tried not to think about too much.

Skilled Nursing and Rehab Facility in Texas
Skilled Nursing and Rehab Facility in Texas | Source

~~~~

Rusty was up to his elbows in grease bent over the old Chevy in the barn. He’d already switched out the spark plugs, replaced the spark plug wires, changed out the distributor and was about to pour gasoline into the freshly drained fuel tank. Rusty’s morning had included more conversation than usual as he filled out paperwork for the electricity, the water and picked up a chainsaw at Lindsey Lumber where he’d ordered a new window.

In the quiet of the early afternoon, he heard twigs snapping as a car rolled down the driveway. Rusty stopped what he was doing and walked toward the house wiping his hands on a red rag. Peering through the windshield of the car was a large furry face squeezed in between the driver and passenger, an older version of the man in Eleanor’s yellowed photos.

“Can you help us get the wheelchair out of the trunk, Rusty?” Eleanor asked through the open window as she pulled the car to a stop. Queenie moved quickly to fill Eleanor’s empty spot, a big doggy grin on her face as the woman got out. The door behind the driver’s seat opened and Connie climbed slowly out and stood by the car. On the back seat where she’d been sitting, Dolly and Jeff stood at the edge of their box and peered out.

“Hello stranger,” Connie said, her sultry voice stopping Rusty in his tracks. He froze in place while a chorus of barking erupted from the barn door. Four dogs awakened from a nap when the car pulled onto the property now stood guard at a distance. When the front passenger door creaked open, Buddy bounded straight towards the man seated in the front seat.

“Hello boy!” William said tears of joy welling up in his eyes. Buddy washed them away plastering sloppy wet kisses over his master’s face.

Rusty took note that the years had been kind to Connie transforming her from the teenager he remembered into a stunning, self-confident woman. He self-consciously moved his greasy hands behind him as they stood beside the car. Whimpers of joy drifted from the front seat where William hugged his long lost friend that tried eagerly to crawl into his master’s lap.

“Down, boy,” William commanded. “We’ll have lots of time to catch up.” Buddy sat down instantly next to the door, eager to obey his master. Rover looked on from a safe distance as the reunion progressed with Cookie and Nicole shyly watching from behind him.

Rusty continued toward the trunk and lifted out the wheelchair. He rolled it next to William’s open door. Buddy moved aside only far enough to allow access keeping his man clearly in view.

“William,” Eleanor announced from the front of the car, “This is Rusty that I’ve told you so much about.” William reached out with a ready handshake as Rusty offered first his hand then his arm for support. With his other hand firmly on the door frame, William expertly transferred into the waiting chair.

“Pleased to meet you and thanks,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about you.” Rusty maneuvered the chair over the rough gravel toward the porch stairs. Buddy marched beside the arm of the chair nudging William’s hand with his nose as they moved forward.

“Looks like we’ll need to make some minor adjustments to get you situated,” Rusty said.

“No need,” he said. “I’ll be rid of this thing in no time.” He pushed up on the arms of the wheelchair and hoisted himself up. With William’s arm draped over Rusty’s shoulder and Connie taking the other side, the trio cautiously mounted the front steps. William stood holding the porch railing as Rusty carried the chair up the stairs

He resumed his seat and rolled around on the wide porch inspecting Rusty’s work. Neatly stacked beside the porch was a pile of cut tree limbs split into quarters for the wood burning stove. The broken window was covered with a patchwork of neatly matched barn wood attached to the window by a frame of two-by-fours.

“The replacement window is on order at Lindsey Lumber,” Rusty told William. “Bobby Lee sends his greetings.”

“Eleanor was right,” William said, smiling. “You have a lot of promise as a carpenter.” Eleanor beamed with joy as they moved through the open front door with William leading the way.

By Steve Morgan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Steve Morgan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

~~~~

Two hours later a pile of broken concrete pieces lay on the basement floor next to a growing pile of dirt. A burly man wearing leather gloves stood knee deep in the hole shoveling out dirt as the odor in the confined room grew pungent. With the next scoop of dirt, an edge of blue plastic tarp glowed in the floodlights aimed at the hole. The Chief nodded at the digger to lift the edge.

“Looks like we’ve found the missing Olsteads,” the chief said with a frown.

~~~~

Rescue workers peered into the hull of the overturned craft. A series of ropes had been secured to the body of the Beechcraft to prevent it sliding further down the mountain. The helicopter had lowered the Jaws of Life down to the wreckage on a harness with the stretcher. Rescue workers began prying open the crushed aft door which was no longer functioning. Surrounding the Beechcraft Twin King, a team of volunteers held onto the stretcher waiting for their peers to pull out the survivor.

Rescue Me

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Peg Cole

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      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Tim, Thank you for the interesting comment. I believe that Jeb's rescue is a mixed bag. He will be grateful for the rescue but not for the next step in the process.

      • nikkikhan10 profile image

        Nikki Khan 3 weeks ago from London

        A great adventurous twist Peg to keep us wanting for more.Brilliant style of narration to keep readers involved.Really enjoyed the pictures and story is heading in a fascinating way.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Linda, I'm so glad you enjoyed William's return home. I believe this is in the hearts and minds of all residents at a nursing home. Some are able to return to their former independent life. William is one of the lucky ones.

        Again, thanks for your continued loyalty and readership. Smiling.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Bill, It's never too late to drop in for a visit. Thank you for following along with this story. I'm always glad to see you.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        I appreciate the changing venues as the adventure continues. Makes it interesting to follow. Good!

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Chris Mills, Thanks! I had never heard that song before but it seemed to fit the developments. I'm heading over to read your latest. Cheers.

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 3 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

        Dear Peg,

        This chapter is most satisfying as you seamlessly weave the concluding threads to the stories within your story.

        Love the song choices as usual - listening to Randy now, this one is new to me.

        Have a peaceful Sunday. Love and hugs, Maria

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 3 weeks ago from Texas

        Peg, I was thinking about the smells in songs, and I think there was one about smell of rain and the "Waltz of the Angels" with the line of the vapor of roses.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Flourish, That creepy basement odor was much enhanced in this case. There's a great playlist for you - songs about smells. You've probably already created one. lol Thanks so much for the visit.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 3 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        Boy, Peg! There something to think about here.So many different directions. I guess we'll have to wait and see how it all turns out.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Mary, Thanks for the excitement and for keeping up with the story and characters. Nice to see you. :)

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Verlie, I'm working on Chapter 27 now, in which I hope (finally) to clear up the outstanding issues. It's been a long road and I'm grateful for the loyalty, encouragement and kindness you and so many others have shown me as this story unfolded. Thank you from my heart.

        PS I sent you a private memo when you have a chance to check it out.

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 4 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

        Another fantastic read and always leaves waiting for more.

      • tsmog profile image

        Tim Mitchell 4 weeks ago from Escondido, CA

        Another step in a plot of intrigue. I am not sure what to think about the rescue of Jeb. Loved the reunion while thinking how everything is coming together.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        It was lovely to read about William coming home. I'm looking forward to the next chapter of the story, as I always do. It's so interesting.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Shyron, Again, thanks so much for the continued support and for liking the way the story is going.

        Bless you for what you do to care for John. My hubby will soon be having his second back fusion surgery so caregiver will again be my role when he comes home. Hopefully, this 4th level will not be as invasive as the last 3-level fusion and he will recover quickly. Best of everything to you and yours, dear one.

      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Peggy, This started out as two chapters, but I condensed most of the repetitive stuff and made it into one. Hoping to close out the tale in the next couple of releases. Thanks so much for sticking with the story all the way through and for the ongoing encouragement.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Good morning, Jackie. As always, I appreciate your enthusiastic comments and encouragement. Thank you!

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I may be late but I am still engaged in this lively and lovely story...great opening paragraph.

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until August 2018

        "Digging Up Bones", I love it. So well done Peg.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

        The descriptions are so vivid that I could almost smell that basement from across the Internet. Glad that everyone gets what they have coming to them, good and otherwise.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        What a reunion that was and more to come with Jeb coming out of that plane. I wonder where you'll bring us next. Am excited.

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 4 weeks ago from Canada

        Brilliant Peg! Near tears with the William homecoming/dogs united/Rusty and Connie reunion...And the horror of Jeb's deeds, slowly sinking in. The air rescue of the downed plane, all of it. But ya, then the story takes a pause (paws). So, it's a musical interlude. You think of everything. I will be here in a week, waiting in the wings...

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 4 weeks ago from Texas

        Yes, I am so happy William and his beloved dog are together again, things are working out for everyone but Jeb just deserts were served to him in this chapter. This is my favorite, as each one tops the previous one.

        How fitting to have Randy Travis singing "Digging UP Bones"

        I haven't had time to work on Buttercup, I am busy as John's official care-giver, will try as soon as possible.

        Blessings my friend.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Frank, I'm thrilled that you've stuck with the story through all these developments. And your comments always are inspiring. Thank you!

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        You certainly packed a lot of information into this chapter Peg! The threads are all starting to pull together. This is quite an intriguing story.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 4 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

        Just love the flow of your storytelling, Peg. You can make so much happen so quickly and we are just left wanting more!

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 4 weeks ago from Shelton

        you keep your story fresh and descriptive.. amazing how it moves along.. you write with compassion and it glows with every chapter.. bravo Peg...

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