Monday, August 29, 2005

Maelstrom Part Deux

Dry again. Watching two humming birds flit effortlessly around Aunt Judy's plastic red feeder. Fascinated by the green blur of their wing tips. Only ten feet away from them, one of Judy's oak trees is bending nearly in half. But the humming birds appear unaffected. Each taking turns at the dangling feeder.

And the tin roof, on the back shed, peals away. Sloughing off like snake skin. Flaps angrily in Katrina's embrace across thirty feet of field before slamming into the ground. It starts rolling, end over end, like a Southern tumbleweed. Behind it, the shed begins to rock on its foundation.

Of course, MY CAR, is in there. "It survived Camille," Terry said when I asked where to park. It isn't going to survive Katrina.

So I'm running. Again. More rain in the face. This time I'm barefoot. In gym shorts and a t-shirt. And my God, I'm running like a damn teenager! Long, confident stride. Arms scissoring. Eyes focused solely on my SUV and the ever-widening sway of the old storage shed.

Since I haven't actually had to run in the past decade, I don't quite make the transition from running to stopping very gracefully. My feet come out from under me. Land of my left hand. And left hip. Sink two inches into the wet earth without hearing the subtle popping noise in my left wrist.

Thunder and rain and the constant howl of an unleashed hurricane have a way of compressing time. I don't know how I make it onto my feet, next to the car. Hunching there. Shoulders pushed to my ears in an insanely stupid attempt to keep my neck dry. Can't figure out why the door won't open. I'm pushing the remote like a trip hammer. Hand slipping off the slick handle because the damn lock is still engaged. After several long seconds of getting pelted in the face by Katrina, I notice the horn is honking as I'm fondling the remote. Of course it's doing that, I realize, I've been pushing the LOCK button. Over and over.

Soaked completely. My left side sheened in mud. I hit unlock and flop into the car. Onto my leather seat. The wooden frame of the old shed groans violently. The whole structure shifts toward my wind shield. I'm screaming something ugly about its mother, fumbling for the ignition. Which damn key? Rain falling in slow motion, almost horizontal. Which key? My stomach about to overtake my tongue and crawl out of my mouth. Another gust from the storm jerks the beams toward me. And I fire the engine, still cursing and dripping. The whole damn place about to collapse as I reverse off the slab and into the mud.

The shed manages to stay upright. Slanting at a painful, gravity defying angle.

I park in the open field. Hopefully out of range of falling trees or loose debris. Then I'm back in her embrace, cursing Katrina with every angry breath.

Run back to Judy's porch.

And my third set of clothes.

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