Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Our new house

I navigate to what would have been our new house. All brick. 40 years old. Cindy had found it before I left Atlanta. It was scheduled to be inspected today. We’re supposed to close on it next week, September 9th. My brother’s 32nd birthday.

“It survived Camille” the owner told me.

But Katrina flooded it. Up to my waist. Four feet of bayou water bathed the entire house.

As I drive up, the carport is full. Glen Graves, the owner, and his entire family are there. They’re cleaning. And mopping. All working to haul his mother’s furniture to the growing mound in the front yard. She passed some months ago. He had not managed to sell off her belongs. But now they’re ruined.

The carpets are gone already. I’m staring at the wet slab. Mr. Graves’ son is cleaning out the kitchen. His daughter wields a damp broom and is sweeping the last bit of water out the back door. Mrs Graves sees me and sighs and comes to hug me. Mr. Graves is out of breath and sweating. (We’re all sweating.) He gives me a grip and pats my back. They were worried about us. Didn’t know what we had done, but hoped we escaped the worst of it.

He shows me the house and everything they’re doing. I follow him, but don’t hear anything he says. I’m thinking about my parents and their home. If Gulfport is this bad, Long Beach is going to be worse. Four feet of water means all of my computers on the floor of Dad’s garage are going to be submerged. All of my antique medical gizmos are drowned. Not to mention about twenty thousand worth of comics. And all of my other books I’ve collected for 20 years. And of course, my parents. If they weren’t struck by a fallen house, they drown.

And I’m really sweating, now. My heart filling my throat. My stomach knotting.

Mr. Graves says more, about fixing the house. A new closing date. And something about my mother-in-laws neighborhood. I don’t hear it. Sweat down my neck and the thud thud thud of blood coursing through my neck.

I have to check the cats, I say. Shake Mr. Graves hand. And run to my car.

Long Beach is going to be worse.


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