Howl in the Wind

Leonard’s stomach turned as he stared at the $364 insurance check for reimbursement of the “vehicle contents.” Regret stung his eyes. The fateful day returned in a rush.

Officials called the narrows suspension bridge an innovative feat of engineering, above reproach. On November 7th, they’d begun their usual trip across the bridge to Tacoma, when the earth started to sway. The wind clutched the bridge. The car lurched into the curb. Cables whipped. Pavement buckled. Metal twisted. Violent sickness overcame Leonard as he stumbled from the car and floundered on the jellylike roadway back to the toll plaza.

“Thank goodness you’re safe,” the booth operator yelled over the screech of the corkscrewing bridge.

Pointing, Leonard panted, “Tubby! Save my dog! He’s still in my car.”

The bridge released a final groan, and the roadway fractured. As the car tumbled into the frigid straits, Leonard was certain he heard Tubby’s last howl.

In November of 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (aka Galloping Gertie) collapsed in relatively minor winds. The only casualty was a black cocker spaniel named Tubby who belonged to reporter Leonard Coatsworth’s daughter. He abandoned her initially, then tried to go back to save her, as did two other people on the bridge that day. Unfortunately, Tubby was too frightened to cooperate with his would-be-rescuers. If you would like to read more about the bridge and Tubby, check out The Washington State DOT.

Here’s a link to a video of the bridge collapse where you can see Coatsworth’s car and the survivors: Footage.

I embellished the details of my fiction short story for the 150-word VisDare photo prompt this week, but Coatsworth’s really did receive a reimbursement check from his insurance company for the vehicle “contents” as they worded it. I guess Tubby had a price. A sad story.

Elephant on the Porch

Each morning, she loiters in front of her shack, dirt-streaked skin and unwashed clothes, mumbling to herself about “someday” as she sips tea. Locals nicknamed her Dirty Della, whispering as they pass by, gawking at her like she’s a caged animal. No one would ever address her directly, always avoiding the elephant on the porch.

Intrigued by her possibilities, the men wonder how dirty she is. Disgusted by her, the women gossip about her trysts with strangers while hoping their husbands haven’t notched her bedpost.

Della ignores them, daydreaming on the porch she once shared with her husband. He abandoned her eight years ago. Bills piled up. Her most sought-after resource proved lucrative.

Brushing the dirt from her apron, she refocuses on tending to her flourishing garden, ensuring her latest fertilizer is buried deep. No one ever misses the strangers. Someday, when her husband returns, she’ll tend to him too.

This story was written for VisDare weekly photo prompt. To learn more, click here.