Lightning bolt of justices


With a flash of lightning and ensuing clap of thunder, our cats were scared so badly both scampered and huddled in the back of the bedroom closet. Our two granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline, ran to the basement windows to watch trees swaying in the high winds.

Luckily, Yours Truly here had seen the black thunderclouds building overhead, closed the sandbox early, battened down lawn furniture, gathered flashlights and toys, and we were already hunkering down safely in the basement just before the storm hit.

We all were watching as a sudden flash tore a jagged white path across the blackened noontime sky. The second lightning bolt brought with it more than just house-shaking thunder and a torrent of rain — it brought justice.

And it had the granddaughters and me joining the cats in the closet. For two hours high winds battered trees, snapping otherwise strong huge limbs like twigs. With each gust, the house creaked above us, the cats meowed, and the granddaughters asked over and over with trembling voices, “Papa. We’re scared. Are we going to be okay?”

As a firefighter for over 27 years, I’ve seen my share of bad weather. After donning turnout gear and with a firetruck wrapped around me, I’ve ventured fearlessly out into the worst of storms. But those days are long gone, and I must admit the ferocity of this storm had me worried.

So I did what any grownup would do to allay the fears of a child during such a storm: I lied. Said there was nothing to worry about. We were safe in our basement with concrete walls on three sides, and Papa used to be a firefighter. I told stories and we played games. It was only after the storm had passed that I found out just how lucky we were.

That second lightning bolt exploded the top of a huge tree in our backyard, causing a massive limb to plunge to earth. Hitting our old grill would’ve been a sign from God that he wanted me to go out and buy and entirely new outdoor kitchen equipped with refrigerator, sink, marble prep table, and four burner infrared grill. Unfortunately, it missed the 6-year-old grill by a few feet.

The bolt from the sky did destroy something other than that tree and my dream of an awesome outdoor kitchen. It fried our computer modem. Something the folks at the giant electronics store with the blue roof said would be impossible … a miracle.

Along with all the other electronics and computers, the modem is plugged into a monster of a surge protector, making being fried by a bolt of lightning simply impossible.

Was it justice from above? Perhaps I was being punished for all those past misdeeds while growing up a long, long time ago on an old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

When I concealed a rock inside that slush ball, hitting Down the Street Bully Brad in the face would’ve earned me a lightning bolt of justice and a burnt modem.

Replacing the ramp supports with twigs just before Twin Brother Mark’s ill-fated bike jump was worthy of retribution from the sky.

Pushing The Sister too hard as she rode inside the giant tractor tire down the hill in our backyard wouldn’t have, but her flying out, hitting the ground and breaking her arm surely would’ve.

Numerous buckets of water precociously placed above Big Brother John’s bedroom door were certainly lightning bolt worthy. Not to mention the huge forest fire resulting from the Great Marshmallow War of ’67. Both the actually marshmallow war and the fire accidentally started by flaming marshmallows were started by Yours Truly.

Yes, hundreds of incidents from back on Flamingo could’ve accounted for the reason why justice, and that lightning bolt, fried my modem. But none did.

Upon further investigation, I realized the cable coming out of the wall wasn’t connected to the monster of a surge protector. This dum-dum connected it directly to the modem, thus bypassing any protection whatsoever.

Seems the lightning bolt of justice wasn’t. Then again, it did hit that tree. Causing the huge limb to fall. Missing our old grill by a few feet. Results being no new awesome outdoor kitchen for Yours Truly.

And if that’s not punishment for all those Flamingo Street misdeeds, I don’t know what is.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]