The Rockport Miracles-Part 4: Episode 24: “The Ballad of Derecho Dan” Continues:
The eerie, chaotic thunderclaps of Storm 5.6 sounded out for a full hour before the sentinel winds of the oncoming derecho were felt. Terrorized citizens fled the town in large numbers while many plucky Rockporters chose to stay and protect their properties. Over the years these brave souls morphed into a hardcore group of stalwarts who called themselves, "The Rocks of Rockport."
Meanwhile, the jerkwad citizens of neighboring River City had begun gathering along their lake shore cliffs with lawn chairs, picnic baskets, and coolers loaded with their favorite beverages. They assembled to again witness a storm slam into Rockport. Many in River City complained when Storms 5.4 and 5.5 occurred at night while they were sleeping. At the sound of the first thunder boom, hundreds choked their favorite vantage points along the shoreline and waited for the show to begin.
Though most would question the logic of Maynard's “Manifesto with Cheese,” Little Dan had accepted his new destiny without hesitation. The booming thunder became the "lizard's roar" signal that Little Dan’s had been waiting for. He fired up the boat, tore Maynard Gridley's manifesto in two and tossed it overboard. He took the helm and steered the boat, ‘The Friggin’ A’ out of its camouflaged position and into the river channel.
Came a day His world went strange He stood alone And, changed some say Into the man... called "Derecho Dan!" (Oh! Derecho Dan! Oh! Derecho Dan!)
Before he'd embarked, Little Dan had swallowed a “sunshine pill” just as the manifesto had instructed. The pill came with provenance. It had been given to Maynard by two old friends named “Ken K. and Stanley O.” It was determined later that those two gentlemen were responsible for a lot of questionable fun and mayhem, mostly in the San Francisco area. Little Dan had been coddled all his life and that's why he didn't comprehend that the “sunshine pill” could actually be an LSD tablet. When all the bridges spanning the river turned into dinosaurs and the Cuyahoga River became a highway of blood, Little Dan suddenly realized the pill he'd swallowed wasn't a Flintstone vitamin.
(The “river of blood” was not a hallucination. A large paint manufacturer up river had “accidentally” opened a valve that released one million gallons of waste solvents into the river and changed the water color from its usual purple and gray to a rich ox-blood.)
Before he died in a motorcycle accident, Maynard had told Little Dan a story about a storm he faced in Vietnam nicknamed, “Monsoon Charlie.” In that story, Maynard and his fellow soldiers had diverted the storm with an enormous explosion that caused it to split in two and destroy the enemy on their flanks. Whether that action, (in which he was awarded a Silver Star for Bravery) haunted Maynard in civilian life, no one will ever know. What was clear is that he'd planned to take out his pain on the world in some explosive way. The fact that Little Dan Newman would assume Maynard's mantle of vengeance, no one could've predicted..
Little Dan took his time puttering down the Cuyahoga River. The sky was still a bright blue, even more so thanks to the LSD. As he floated past the beautiful High Level Bridge, the concrete lattice design captured his attention. Appearing inside each opening was someone he loved. He saw his mom, his dad, and his dog, Little BD. Little Dan waved and blew kisses to them all from the deck of the slowly moving boat. Then, Maynard's face appeared in very last lattice opening. Little Dan’s mouth and throat went dry at the sight of him. He struggled to find the right words. Finally, Little Dan croaked, “We’ll get ‘em Maynard! Don’t worry, I got this!”
The ghost of Maynard just stood there quietly, staring at him. “MAYNARD!!” screamed Little Dan, “I NEED YOUR BLESSING!!!” Maynard's ghost shuddered and began to fade away. Before dissipating from view, he raised his clenched hand and gave Little Dan a "thumbs up." With that heartening sign, Little Dan collapsed cross-legged onto the bow of his floating bomb. He placed his hallucinating head into his hands and let out a big sigh and muttered, “Friggin’ A.”
Oh, Derecho Dan!
He tames the wind
with a bomb in each hand,
He'll blow the bejeezus
right out of the sky,
He's Derecho Dan
One heck of a guy!
(Excerpts from, “The Ballad of Derecho Dan” ©1975 Music and Lyrics by: Googie Arthur and Dickie Don Rio for Agita Records-All Rights Reserved)