Short excerpts from the (two) stories included in: KANSAS CITY STORY: From Trading Post to Cowtown to Cosmopolitan Crossroads:
TERROR IN RUSKIN HEIGHTS: May 20, 1957
She stood for a moment in shock. Eddie was out there. She couldn’t hide in the bathroom and be safe when the man she loved was in danger. Her child had to know his father. She pushed at the door to get it open. It seemed as though someone was on the other side pushing against it. “You…will…not…keep…me…from…going…out,” she swore through gritted teeth. She pushed with every ounce of strength she had. It opened enough for her to scoot out. The wind caught it and wrenched it from her hands. The wind ripped it from the hinges and tossed it across the lawn.
“Eddie!” Rachel covered her head against flying debris. Newspapers, clothing, branches, furniture, anything not nailed down—and some she suspected that had been—swirled through the air. Rain drenched her clothes and dripped into her eyes as she ran. She blinked and tried to wipe away the wetness but it was raining too hard. The air seemed electrified. Her wet hair slapped her face and stung like an angry swarm of bees. Lightning flashed. She staggered like a drunk in the high winds.
She cupped her hands around her mouth. “Eddie! Where are you?” The cacophony of noise sucked her voice away. It felt as if something had clamped around her throat, squeezing, making it hard to breathe. She started to cry. Tears and the driving rain blurred her vision.
Suddenly the rain stopped, the wind ceased. Everything went still as though someone had flipped a switch and shut it all off. Debris that had been flying through the air dropped to the ground or fell onto rooftops. For a moment nothing moved. No sound intruded on the deadly silence.
They were safe. But it didn’t feel safe.
A roar began, like a freight train barreling toward her from the south side of the neighborhood. She whirled and stumbled in the mud puddling around her feet. A block away a giant, rotating black cloud sucked up a house and crushed it as if it was made of toothpicks. Everything disappeared into the swirling monster!
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Rachel screamed. Her heart pounded. She stood rooted in the mud, unable to move. She didn’t know what she would do if she could move. The massive cloud gobbled the next house and the next—and it was headed straight for hers!
She ran away from the monster. The wind pushed her toward the little shed where they kept the gardening tools and lawnmower. Where was Eddie? Was she even going in the right direction? Would she live long enough to find out whether her baby was a boy or girl and know the joy of being a mother? She cried and stumbled toward the shed then slammed into the wall, held there by the wind. What can I do? If I hide in that shed, what chance would I have? Houses are being blown apart like rubble. She had to get out of the pelting rain, but where? She worked her way along the back wall and fell into the ditch she’d forgotten was there—right on top of a muddy, wild-eyed Eddie and next to a filthy, crazed Lizzie, who was wildly digging the ditch deeper.
“Eddie! Oh, thank God I found you!” She fell into his arms and he hugged her so hard she squeaked. For one moment, Rachel felt safe. It was a fleeting moment as the tornado bore down on them. Eddie yelled something. She couldn’t hear him even though they were only inches apart. He pointed to a thick pipe that went deep into the ground at the end of the ditch. Then he pointed at his waist and she realized his belt was buckled around the pipe.
“Come here, Lizzie! Come here!” Rachel shouted. It wasn’t until Eddie whistled that the puppy stopped digging and came to them. Chest to chest with the dog between them, Eddie put his arms around them and the pipe. He squeezed them like a vise as they held on for their lives.
“I’ve got you!” he shouted into her ear. “I won’t let go!”
Tears mixed with rain and Rachel thought about all they would lose if they didn’t survive. They would lose their future—and their baby. Would Eddie die without knowing he would be a father?
The tornado swirled over them. The wind pulled at them and roared overhead, but Eddie held tight. She screamed, but the sound was lost in the violence around them. She closed her eyes against the pounding rain, but mud smacked her in the face and clogged her ears and nose. She opened her mouth to suck in a breath of air, but mud slid down her throat instead. She gagged, spit and coughed and could barely breathe between the grime in her throat and the breath being sucked out of her by the swirling wind and Eddie’s vise-like grip. Eddie held them together, and the pipe kept them from flying away like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, a movie she suddenly hated. Rachel’s eyes shut tighter when she heard the shed fold in on itself just above where they were curled up in the ditch. Debris swirled above them then dropped down on them.
Excruciating pain exploded behind Rachel’s eyes. She cried out and grabbed her head with both hands. Released from her grip, Lizzie scrambled away. The pain felt as if someone was beating her skull with a mallet. She couldn’t open her eyes. Everything was black. Her head hurt so bad she was nauseous. Someone was crying. Was it her? She was dizzy and so tired. Eddie called her name. He patted her cheeks, but she couldn’t talk no matter how hard she tried. She pulled her hands from her head and wrapped them around her belly to protect her baby. She lay in the cold mud and shivered. Darkness beckoned and she willingly went into its warmth.
From: Ticket Lines, Phones and Elton John:
The music to Funeral for a Friend filled the packed Sprint Center. Julie swayed in her seat beside Gary. Her hands were locked together in her lap, her eyes closed. Funeral ended and The Bitch is Back exploded from the stage with such intensity, Gary felt it from his toes to his head.
Julie jumped up. She danced to every thumping beat and sang every word at the top of her lungs. Beside her, Gary tried to keep up.
They swayed and sang along to Tiny Dancer, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Daniel, then jitterbugged to Crocodile Rock and Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting. When the show ended with Your Song, Gary was exhausted. Julie’s hair was wet with sweat and looked as though she’d been out in a wind storm, but she was smiling. He’d made her happy.
Julie was uncharacteristically quiet as they filed out of the arena with the thousands of other people headed to their cars.
“What’s wrong?” What could possibly be wrong?
A wistful smile curled Julie’s lips. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing’s wrong. I’m just reliving every song, putting everything to memory so I can see and hear it over and over again as long as I live.”
“Mission accomplished then.” He’d heard Monday afternoon on the radio that tickets had sold out in less than ninety minutes. That made him more thankful to have gotten the tickets, let alone the spectacular seats.
“Was it that hard to get them?”
“I never asked. How did you get those great seats, anyway?”
“I sat in my recliner on Saturday night after I dropped you off and all day Sunday, speed-dialing 94.9 and 101 to win them. I was the winning caller for the last pair of tickets on 94.9 on Sunday night. They’d saved the best for last and I got them.”
She threw herself at his chest. “You did that for me?”
“I did. And I’d do it again to see you so happy.”
They were jostled as people filed past them. The last thing Gary wanted to do was finish this conversation in the middle of a moving throng. “Come on, let’s get out of this crowd and get you home where we can talk.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Julie’s eyes sparkled in the bright light surrounding the arena.
Gary hoped that sparkle was for him.
Writer says works are historically accurate, politically incorrect
Special to the Daily Mail
It was seeing the movie "Dancing with Wolves" and the lure of the sweeping Great Plains with its cowboys and Indians and battles that got author Diane Rogers started writing historical fiction about the Civil War.
|"History is what it is, and not what people would like it to be," the flamboyant author told a crowd Sunday at the Bushwhacker Museum attending the quarterly meeting of the Vernon County Historical Society. "My books are not politically correct."|
But they are historically accurate. Before her copy is turned into a published work, Rogers has it reviewed by historians and experts. She learned, for instance, from a Civil War authority that Union soldiers carried carbines and not rifles.
|Rogers, whose pen name is D.L. Rogers, started her books as a trilogy before the Civil War on the Oregon Trail, continuing on to the Missouri Border War, the battles of Wilson's Creek and Lexington, touching on Order No. 11 in Missouri, through the Indian wars to the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.|
Of her seven novels, the imaginative writer counts only one as a romance, "The Journey," following the adventures of three young ladies in Europe.
Three others are spinoffs of her original trilogy about the war.
"Caleb" is a slave finding love and freedom; "Amy" is a young girl who lived through the tumultuous period, and "Maggie," the latest work, "is me," Rogers says.
|"She is a 'forward-thinking' woman who can out-ride, out-shoot, and out-do most of her male counterparts as she travels the west from Boston to Cheyenne to Deadwood, working to make a positive difference in her world."|
A small book publisher, Rogers admits she isn't able to make a fortune with her sales, but she loves writing and reading history, "and taking my characters anywhere I want them to go.
|"There'll be more novels," she says. "My readers won't let me quit."|
The mother of two grown children and grandmother of two, Rogers works as a legal assistant for a Kansas City law firm on the Country Club Plaza and lives with her husband and four horses on a 14-acre spread in Archie.
Her e-mail address is: www.dlrogeresbooks.com.