I’m Easter Yeggs, son of Lieutenant Deviled Yeggs and Dr. Trinity Naomi Tesla, that’s TNT, Yeggs, PhD and many other initials, but most people call her Glyce, pronounced “Gliss,” since it is short for Nitroglycerin. She explodes when shaken.
We picked up our latest student last night at the Tulsa, OK airport. She had missed a couple of flights and barely got in. We had to be hundreds of miles away by the next morning, and flights any closer to the severe weather were being cancelled like crazy. This two-week cycle of a different fourth team member shuffle is getting tough, and I was awake all night to get us to the destination while they all slept.
I had us in position, or close to it, just in time for Jemima to awaken and get some great sunrise photos. As they say, “Red sky in morning, storm chasers better be ready.” Okay, it doesn’t rhyme. Rhyming was never my strong suit.
Within a couple of hours, everyone was awake, and Jemima had distributed the morning rations. I had the turtle fueled with the added fuel cans filled also. Our new teammate is Mary Sheltie. She was a second semester junior, but she was a newbie to field work, storm chasing or otherwise. She was starting in the observation chair, but the routine with student extras is that she will have at least one day behind the camera and at least one day leading the team with tight supervision and override authority by Dr. Quinn. We could do everything with just three people, but this was a training experience. That was the main reason to design and build the turtle. And since Dr. Quinn accepted Jesus when we were home, just in time for your sermon, Dr. Quinn wants our working title for the turtle to be Tracy Ultimate Redemptive Thrill of Love and Enlightenment. But she doesn’t even think the conservative, and Christian, Dr. Kildare would allow that.
We saw the clouds coming from a long distance away. The first time I heard Mary say anything over the comm-link was, “This is weird that we are driving way too fast going toward the storm while others all seem to be going in the opposite direction.” I told her that was good in that we like not having to share the road if it gets messy.
I shouldn’t have said anything. It always ends badly when I do. We were running toward some radar-indicated rotation to see if we could spot a tornado. So far, there had not been any debris signature, those non-meteorological things detected by the radar. Then, right in front of us the funnel touched down and filled the near horizon with tree limbs and junk. At this point, a forested area. I told everyone to hold on tight for a 180. Dr. Quinn mumbled to Mary, “I hate it when he does this. I get a headache, but Easy is the best.” With a few seconds of squealing tires and burned rubber, we went from driving straight south to driving straight north, and now we had cars in front of us.
Dr. Quinn calmly said, “Tornado touched down. Moving too fast. Suggest evasive action to the east. Stinker, look for a right hand turn in about 200 yards.” I also heard a soft whine. Mary was probably crying, but she was trying to hold it in.
Now on a secondary road, not that our original highway was that big, I needed to slow down to catch the turns, but if the tornado kept its course, it would be passing us, going up the road we had been on.
I was directed down a side road to the left that brought us out on the road, behind the tornado. I sped up and matched the storms pace so that Jemi could get as many photos as possible. In just a few minutes, the circulation on the ground was gone. Jemi usually switched to taking video of the cloud to catch rotation, but Dr. Quinn said for us to do a normal U-turn and double back. There had been other motorists in front of us. We pulled off to avoid having the tornado overtake us, they would have been in the path.
The other vehicles had driven into the ditch. No one was hurt, but with the tornado in the opposite ditch, the ditch kept them beneath the range of fencepost and tree limb debris. We were guessing EF0 or EF1, but it could have caused the vehicles to wreck. As it was, they all got back onto the road without me using our wench to give them some assistance.
As we carefully surveyed the scene, the soft whine continued.
Suddenly, Dr Quinn spotted a rainbow. “Stinker, Easy, chase the leprechaun. Our budget might double if we can get his pot of gold.”
Jemi and I asked, “What?!”
Dr. Quinn said, “The rainbow silly!! Get a move on.”
Jemi was barking out orders to turn right and turn left. I had no idea what I was “chasing,” but we got to where we thought the rainbow had ended and there was no pot of gold, no leprechaun either. We reported such to Dr. Quinn.
Mary said, “It’s probably at the other end of the rainbow.”
Everybody started laughing. We asked Dr. Quinn if she had hit her head when I did the speed turn. She said that Mary seemed to be leaking oil really bad, and she thought a distraction was necessary.
She turned to Mary and said, “Thank you for not screaming incoherently in fear. You kept it under control pretty well for a tight observation on your first storm. You are on the best team that T.R.U.S.T. has. The other team is only numbered ‘one’ because they think they’re the best.”
Mary sniffled, “Were we really close to running into the tornado?”
Dr. Quinn laughed, “Not with Easy at the wheel. He is a bit crazy, but he will keep you safe, but if you make a pass at him, Stinker will probably slug you. Let me introduce myself. I do not know how you made it to nearly the end of your junior year without having one of my classes. I am Elvira Quinn. I run the field reporting and storm chasing program for T.R.U.S.T. I have past experience in many areas of meteorology, so if you want to pick my brain, this two-week course is very informal. Learn what I do and what Stinker does. You will be in charge of both stations at least one day of this two-week stretch. Unless we have a storm-free day, you will not be driving.” I growled. “Yes, Easy, I will relieve you soon since you have been driving all night, but I don’t like driving this thing that close to a tornado. And I think the radar was off a little. I had us driving to the east of it and then we could get some good observation windows. As it was, too many trees, clouds too low, and the storm too close to the road compared to what my data told me. I am in charge. That mistake was on me.”
Dr. Quinn took a breath. “Easy is Easter Yeggs, our driver with mad stunt driving skills. He also tinkers with the university’s mechanical engineers to improve the design. When he pulls something crazy, he knows the vehicle can handle it, since he and his M.E. friends crunched the numbers. Easter, what is the status of getting Design by Tensie to work on that thing you thought of?”
I replied, “No one talks to Tensie, for the most part. Her lawyer says that Tensie does not know if it is even possible, but the thinking caps are working overtime. No one pays Tensie unless there is something to buy.”
Dr. Quinn said, “Good. Budget is tight already, and for the life of me, I have no idea how you know how to contact such a reclusive genius.” I just shrugged. “Next to Easter is his fiancée, Jemima Lucado. She is strait-laced and proper. She’s also fun to be around. We have little girl talks when we ever have down time. She is our photographer and her photographs have made national weather reports. I guess that is why I think this team is the best. Since Jemima’s been on the team, our photos and videos get sold to the networks twice as much as team one. Jemima has a sense of knowing what photo, video, or timelapse is visually attractive and instructional.”
Mary said, “I know. They have shown her timelapse work in my classes this last semester. When you see all the aspects of a storm developing, it makes what the professor is saying come alive. And now I get to see the photographer face-to-face, at least, once we get out of the vehicle.”
Dr. Quinn chuckled, “It is kind of hard to see the faces of those two, but I don’t think we will do any storm chasing tonight. Our driver needs his rest. Mary, what are your plans after graduation?”
Mary answered, “I might get a National Weather Service job, but I want to work in a television studio. Why I have not had any of your classes is that I am taking television / radio management and meteorology, a double major. I would like to eventually direct and/or produce. I want to get a double dose of the field assignments this year. I would like to get on camera during a storm or during storm recovery to get those types of things added to my demo tape.”
Dr. Quinn nodded, “I have experience in the studio setting. You can ask me anything. I might even suggest to not do what I did.” Jemima gasped, “Don’t worry, Stinker. She would find out eventually. Mary, I was on air at the state capitol for several years. I shamefully strutted my assets and people watched to see if I would have a wardrobe malfunction. But that life is behind me. I like this job, behind the camera.”
Mary cleared her throat, “I heard rumors, but I have not gone online to find any videos. Do you regret taking a route that put the focus on you rather than the weather?”
Dr. Quinn replied, “Yes, I do. I recently became a Christian. I know now that what I was doing was wrong, but even those wasted years were not totally wasted. I got my masters’ and I got a chance to move to Tracy for my doctorate. Then I met the two PK’s in the front seat, and everything changed.”
“Stinker is a Preacher’s Kid and Easy claims to be a PK also, a policeman’s kid.”
Mary asked, “Policeman’s kid? Is his father Deviled Yeggs? I just did a news report for my other major on his promotion to lieutenant. I did an interview with him just this past week. Now, I must meet both of the stars in the front seat.”
Jemima said, “You’ll have to catch up with Easy later. He’s asleep.”
Dr. Quinn asked, “Mary, I am new to being a Christian and I just want to tell everyone, but with Jemima and Easter both being strong believers, we might slip up and talk about Jesus, just about any time. Do you have a problem with that?”
Mary said, “Not really. I have been to church, usually visiting friends for the weekend. My friends had tried to get me to join the church, but I resisted. If you start preaching 24/7 then I might ask for you to cool down a little.”
Dr. Quinn laughed, “Oh, no. We will allow you to sit in on our Bible studies only if you want to. Most of the storm chasing time, day or night, has to be focused on the job, but I find myself praying, like when Easter makes his 180 turns. Sometimes out loud. Stinker, where is lunch? I’m starved.”
Through the slot used to transfer paperwork and meals and such, Jemima shoved two paper bags labeled by name. Mary got a heated ham and cheese sandwich and a bag of potato chips. But Dr. Quinn growled when she opened her bag.
Jemima asked, innocently, “What’s wrong, Dr. Quinn?” You could almost hear her eye lashes flapping.
Dr. Quinn fumed, “Everyone else gets a hot sandwich. I get breakfast cereal with tiny marshmallows in the shapes of hearts, stars, horseshoes, and clovers. I am thinking that Stinker is behind this little joke.”
“Why, Dr. Quinn, I just gave you the bag with your name on it. And I don’t know why you’re complaining. We spent half the morning chasing a leprechaun. Now that you caught him, you want something else?!”
They were laughing so loud, they nearly woke me up. Actually, I was awake, thinking of our new team. I would be praying for each of us. I was hoping that Mary would be a little stronger as the storms raged. If she was about to lose it, she would not make a good leader or photographer. I am hoping that was the newbie that sometimes takes a day or two to get adjusted. As for Dr. Quinn’s openness, chances are that someone is going to complain.
I also thought about Dr. Quinn’s strange behavior. It seemed that storm chasing was first and foremost until today. She was worried about the other motorists and we cut off the chase. She had us chasing non-existent leprechauns to calm Mary down. This Christian version of Elvira Quinn was indeed a new creation, but will her compassion for others interfere with storm chasing? When you consider that storm chasing gathers data and information for long term better safety to the public and storm chasing has an immediate benefit to public safety. When she confirmed that we had a tornado, that is the circulation touched the ground, that was transmitted to local weather and the National Weather Service. That with their radar and our vehicle GPS coordinates, they could get the warning out to the public. Our job is public safety, and I fear she might be losing sight of that.
While I was thinking and praying about these things, Jemi pinched me.
“Ouch! Why did you do that?”
“For one thing, I see no green. For another, your lunch is served, my darling.”
“I’m wearing green socks. You saw me put them on this morning. You complained my other pair was too smelly, so I put the dirty ones in a freezer bag.”
“Okay then, maybe I just wanted to pinch you.” She smiled and giggled. I love that smile. When I was half finished with my sandwich, I pinched her. Dr. Quinn told us to behave.
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY
The name Mary stuck in my head for the new teammate, But I could only think of Shelley for a last name and I was not ready to start any stories about monsters. So, I modified it to the nickname of Shetland Sheepdogs, the Sheltie. So, Mary Sheltie it is. And I think she may return in the summer for hurricane season. Maybe we can have a monster hurricane story.
For videos about the song, Elvira, or a clip featuring Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, here is a link to a previous Easter and Jemima Adventure. Click HERE.
Leave a Reply