“Sheriff’s office, Sheriff Donner speak…”
A rapid string of words came through a terrible connection. He could hardly understand a single one of them. Somehow, he managed to calm the caller just as the strange, tone-like noises and swirling hisses eased enough to hear.
“This is Jonah Epperly.”
“Hello, Jonah. What can…”
“You better get up here.” he interrupted, with more fear than excitement in his voice, “I think a plane or something crashed.”
“Now hold on…”
“You better hurry. I saw it come down, heard it hit and go plowing through the trees.”
“Alright, whereabouts did it hit?”
“South of my cabin… You ought to be able to see it if you go up the old River road.”
“Alright, I’ll get someone out there, but I’ve got to make some calls.”
“Well, just hurry. There could be people hurt.”
Old Jonah was known to be fond of moonshine. He knew what people thought of him and knew that they wouldn’t give him credit if he said the sky was blue. So when he called he didn’t mention that his fear was not that anyone might be hurt, it was fear for his own skin.
Sheriff Donner made a call to the Oakland Airport. It was the only airport anywhere nearby. If a plane had gone missing, they would know. He was relieved to hear that no aircraft had been flying and that their radar had seen no traffic for the last couple of hours. He hung up thinking what anyone else would have thought, that old Jonah was on the sauce.
But he remembered that sound. And a crash would be a good way to explain a noise like that. Even if it wasn’t a plane, it might have been a meteor or space junk. He also knew that the military had aircraft that were invisible to radar. Maybe, he thought, it’s worth sending someone out.
He tried raising Luke again, but once more, the radio was full of static. Staring at the nearly biblical rain, the thought of driving out to the edge of town filled him with reluctant apprehension. But the thought that Jonah might be right, that people might be in need of help, made him grab his raincoat and slip it on.
As he picked up the phone to try the diner, lightning flashed and the lights flickered. There was nothing to be heard but the return of the wild, screeching interference. The storm must have done something to the lines, he reasoned and stepped out into the gale.
His plan was to head out to River road and call Luke on the cruiser’s radio.
Story by Joe Stanley