Storm King Lady
The road over Storm King Mountain along the Hudson River can be as beautiful as it is treacherous. I had to drive it to work every weekday and then back home. The drive offers a gorgeous overview of the Hudson River. But harp curves flanked by cliffs are a challenge for even the best of drivers during a storm at night. Tonight was one of those storms and I struggled to see through the fog and rain to keep the car from skidding on the road. Without warning, a woman appeared in the center of the road. I reacted too fast, and the car spun in a circle as the wheels locked on black ice. I came to a stop on the shoulder of the road, shaken but not injured. I got out and ran over to the woman.
“Are you okay? Were you in an accident?” I asked. No answers. “Can I take you to the police?”
Just a slight nod, “Yes.”
I could see that she was soaking wet and cold, so I put my jacket on her shoulders. She was wearing only an old green sweater, blue jeans and tennis shoes. She spoke not one word as we drove. I dropped her off at the nearest police station and drove away, thinking I was finished doing my good deed.
The next morning the police called. They found my jacket on their front steps with my name inside. I had forgotten about it. I now had to explain everything and describe the woman. The officer said they never saw the woman but that the description fits a woman that was reported missing last year. He explained she disappeared while driving over Storm King in a storm one year ago from last night. She was last seen wearing a green sweater, blue jeans and tennis shoes. The officer said to meet him at the spot where I picked up her up ASAP. I drove up Storm King and met the police. A lieutenant introduced himself and explained that the woman I saw maybe a homeless person. I pointed down the road to the spot where my car skidded off the road.
“We searched this whole area for weeks last year,” said the lieutenant. “We never found a car. We figured she must have run away. That is, until you showed up last night.”
We started walking along the road to the spot where I found the woman. I noticed a section of the retaining walk along the road had been repaired.
“Lieutenant, did you guys search over the side of the cliff down by the river?” I asked.
“Cars usually hit the wall at an angle and either bounce back or hang up on the wall. We searched by helicopter but not on the ground. It’s very steep and rough terrain.”
“Well,” I said, “If you came up empty handed before, maybe now is time to search on the ground.”
The lieutenant directed a couple of his men to put on harnesses and to repel over the wall on ropes. When the two were halfway down one of them shouted, “Hey, there’s a car down here!”
A couple hours later, a crane lifted the car back onto the highway. As soon as the car was back on the road, we looked inside.
“It’s her all right!” the lieutenant said. “The license plates checked out, and she has ID in her purse. She died instantly.”
“How do you explain the woman from last night?” I asked.
“Or all the other nights that someone reported seeing a woman up here,” the lieutenant added. “I have a feeling that there won’t be any more sightings of the Storm King Lady. Sometimes it is best not to dwell on these things. It can’t be explained so I won’t even try. Unless you have a logical explanation, just forget about your involvement in this whole episode. You did not bring anyone to the station. Understood?”
I shook his hand and walked back to my car, but I will not ever forget what happened that night or the Storm King Lady.
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