Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan ERIC HANLEY didn’t often talk to a car, but sometimes circumstances called for the practice. He spoke in a soft tone and praised his sister’s baby for climbing the hill without too much trouble. Hill. Who was he kidding? He just lied to this car. It was a mountain, and a steep one at that. He hoped it was the last one until he got to Flagstaff. He realized now that he should have at least looked at a map, but it was a straight shot from Phoenix to Flagstaff. One road, no turns.
Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan was, and he thought that Shannon and he would be closer. When he had been offered a tenured position at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, he’d jumped at the chance. He was looking forward to spending the holidays with his sister in his soon to be hometown.
Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan “Well, then you are going to have to turn around and go back down to Camp Verde and get some, or come back tomorrow after the roads have been plowed.” “This is my sister’s car and she lives in Flag. Would she have them?” Officer Gallagher barely kept his eyes from rolling. The people coming up from the valley during the winter set his teeth on edge. He smiled instead and said, “Why don’t you pop the trunk, and I’ll take a look.” Eric pulled the lever for the trunk and stepped out of the car. He rounded the side just in time to see the officer take a gray plastic box out of the trunk labeled “tire cable chains.” “These need to be installed on the front tires. Take your time. I’ll come back and check on you later.” Eric turned and watched as Officer Gallagher walked away to direct the traffic that was coming down the interstate. Eric shook his head and stood there, not quite knowing what to do. He didn’t even know what chains were, and now he was supposed to install them? He opened the plastic box, took out the contents, and read the instructions. It didn’t look too hard. The cables needed to be laid out on the backside of the tire. Great. Good thing he had long arms and big hands. The snow was a little bit higher in the back and he had to scoop away the snow to level it out. He was practically lying under the car. He scooted out from underneath and tried to stand. He grasped the door handle on the car for leverage and pulled. Thank goodness, the hot and hunky cop wasn’t looking in his direction. Eric was still sitting on the ground, and his glove was no longer on his hand. His glove was so wet it had frozen on the outside, 4.
Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan hence no grip. He was a scientist, he should know these things. He rolled over so he was on his knees and slowly stood up. The snow was now falling so hard he had to wipe it off his face. Eric gripped the cables and managed to get the top clasp to snap together. The bottom was a little harder because of the snow. When he had the first one done, he actually did a little jig in celebration. He was not going to let the weather gods spoil the day. Cameron Gallagher was keeping an eye on the desert rat. He looked like he was getting the hang of putting the cables on. Cameron watched as the man put both hands up in the air and danced a little. He sure did look proud of himself. Too bad he wasn’t done. Cameron went back to his truck and got his thermos of coffee. It was a good way to break the ice. Here was someone that he wanted to get to know better. His replacement had arrived and he wanted to make sure this guy was on his way before he left. The thermos of hot coffee he had in his car was offered to the weary traveler. “Thank you. My hands and face feel like they’re frozen.” “It’s the wind. It’s really blowing today. I see you have the cables on. Let me check them and make sure they’re tight.” He squatted next to the front tire and pulled on the cables. The tensioner still needed to be fastened, and he did that in five minutes for both tires. He stood up and faced the desert-dweller. “You hadn’t set the tensioners. Your celebration was a little premature.” Eric was startled to hear the officer say that he had watched his dance. Maybe he could blame it on the weather? “Oh, I wasn’t dancing. I was stamping my feet and shaking my arms to get the blood 5.
Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan circulating.” Cameron looked at him in disbelief but did not call him on it. “Okay, you’re all set. Just remember that you can only drive thirty miles an hour or so. Take your time. You’ll be in Flag in about an hour. Do you need to contact anyone?” “Oh, shit! My sister is probably freaking out. Thanks for reminding me.” “Go ahead and make your call. I’ll follow you after you start out to make sure you’ll be okay.” He hoped that sounded like what a police officer would do. He had never gone this far for a motorist, but he was attracted to this man and he wanted to extend their time together. He looked at the traveler as he spoke on the phone to his sister. He was tall, had a regular build, black hair and blue eyes. He had the look of an Irishman, and Cameron had always been attracted to that. He looked to be in his thirties. Cameron liked older men. They did not seem to have the angst that his contemporaries had. It seemed like men his age only wanted to get laid every weekend by someone new and then wondered why they were alone. Cameron actually wanted to date one person at a time and find someone to spend his life with.
Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan seconds too long. Both wished they were not wearing gloves. “I’m Cameron. Nice to meet you.” They released each other’s hands and stepped back. “Sergeant Gallagher! You better get going. They are going to close the road at dark until tomorrow morning,” his replacement came over and told him. “The snowplow is about five miles ahead so you should be good to go.” “Thanks, Peterson. I’ll see you back at the station once the crews get the road closed. Has the alert gone out to ADOT?” “Yes, sir. The crew should be here any time. We’ll let one last group go when the snowplow comes back. We should be back in by six or so.” Eric looked at his watch. It was four-thirty now. They had to stand out in the snow for another hour and a half? He had new respect for the officers up here. “Well, I better get going. I’ve never driven in the snow before.” “You what?” “I’ve never driven in the snow. How bad can it be? I can only go thirty miles an hour.” “Jeez. Okay, you are the last of this group to leave. I’ll follow you into Flagstaff. If you start to skid, steer in the direction your car is pointing, not away. If you start to feel uncomfortable at all with the drive, just pull over, and I’ll take you in the rest of the way.” “Okay. I will, and thanks. You’ve been really kind to a stranger.” Eric got into the car, started it up, and drove off at ten miles an hour. 7.
Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan “The wind was so bad that I pulled over at Mund’s Park. I told you not to worry. I had a police escort. He helped someone who had skidded off the road. They didn’t have any chains and were trying to get down the hill. I just waited at the country store until he came back. For a while there, I thought he had forgotten about me. It isn’t blowing as much, but it’s really snowing hard.” Shannon had a cup of coffee waiting for him. She knew he had to be cold and tired. “I was nervous when I saw the time but I didn’t want to call because I didn’t want you to talk on the phone while you were driving. So I cleaned the kitchen twice while I worried.” Eric rolled his eyes at his sister but felt a rush of warmth, also. They were three years apart and had spent most of their childhood at odds with each other. He remembered some knockdown drag-out fights. He still had the bite mark scars on the back of his hand from one such occasion. He was glad they seemed to have put that all behind them and were very close now. She made him tell the whole story and he did, cute cop and all. He told her how handsome Sergeant Gallagher was, how he had been in the right place at the right time, how he was straight, and Shannon realized he was talking about her friend, Cameron. Eric was practically gushing. Shannon interrupted Eric’s story. “What makes you think he isn’t gay?” “He’s a cop, for one, and secondly, my gaydar didn’t go off at all.” “Well, you need to take it in for a tune-up because Cameron is gay.” 9.
Snow Follies * Chelle Dugan “You know him? Why didn’t you tell me? Is he single? How old is he, because he seemed really young?” “Let me go start some more coffee. I have a feeling this is going to be a long talk.” When she came back with two mugs of coffee, they sat together and talked. Shannon told him what she knew about her neighbor. Eric started to get starry-eyed. She had to wave her hand in front of his face to get his attention. She laughed and told him he had it bad. She even teased him about calling Cameron and telling him her baby brother had a crush on him, which led to pillows from the couch being thrown at each other. It felt good to be like this. They spent the rest of the afternoon inside as the unpredicted storm rolled in and the snow fell.