Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STORM (10/05/17)
TITLE: Stormy Weatherall
By Ellen Carr
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We never speak to him. We wouldn't dare. His fiery temper is legendary and people say he doesn't like kids. So we walk past quickly and don't draw attention to ourselves.
Stormy can fix anything, just about. Townsfolk take their broken toasters, lawn-mowers, and even their broken china to Stormy. He can work miracles on things. They say he's 'a man of few words'. Means he doesn't talk much. People drop their broken things off there and he tells them when to come back and pick them up. He never makes a note of who owns what. He just remembers them all. And he never gets it wrong. That's pretty impressive I reckon.
Everyone in town calls him Stormy and no one seems to know his real name. But there are a few stories around about how he got his nickname. Mrs Riley, our next door neighbour, is sure she knows how he got that name.
“He always looks windblown, always has. As a young man he had a job down at the hardware store and his coppery-red hair stuck up and out in all directions. Even when he was working inside he looked as though he had just come in from a storm. And that,” Mrs Riley assures us, “is how he got that name. No doubt about it.”
Mum has a theory too. “Back in 1965 a huge storm hit Sandown. We got a bit of warning through the weather forecast, but when it hit it was three times stronger than anyone expected. The river and the creek flooded and dozens of homes were inundated. Cars were washed away in the rising water. Trees were flattened and logs floated down the river. Families were stranded in the upper floors of their homes as the lower floors filled with water.
Before the emergency services arrived Stormy sprang into action. In no time he was out in his boat, rowing along the flooded streets, ferrying family after family to high ground and shelter in the community centre. He would blow his whistle when he reached a house, put his ladder up the wall of the house and steady his boat while the people climbed down into his boat. Then he carted them to safety, going back again and again for more families. He single-handedly rescued thirty families!
That's when people started calling him Stormy,” says Mum. “I remember it well. And he won an award for saving all those people.”
But Grandma remembers him from way back when she was at school. They were in the same class. She can't remember his real name but she knows he wasn't always called Stormy.
“When he was a kid he was hopeless at reading and his writing was unreadable. He copped a lot of teasing from the other kids. The teachers insisted that he read out loud like everyone else. He would struggle through a paragraph, until they mercifully asked him to stop, and the other children would snigger and giggle. At lunch time the the kids called him 'retard' and 'moron'.
Well, Stormy may have had trouble with his reading but he had no trouble throwing punches and kicks. He would fly into a rage and lash out at someone. Then he'd rush off, out the school gate and away to who-knew-where,” Grandma told us. “With a stormy personality and a surname like Weatherall, he was asking to be called Stormy.”
Whatever the truth, and I think Grandma's story is, I hope I'll have the courage to actually ask him some time. But not yet. Maybe when I'm older.
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