Monday, August 29, 2005

And her cell phone dies

I place a call to my Mother. Between rings CNN / Fox / MSNBC force feeds the headlines: Katrina slams into New Orleans. God, have mercy on them. She floods Lake Pontchartrain, sunders all of the antique levees, drowns every bar I've ever visited, and pimp slaps a hole in the top of the Super Dome. I try not to imagine the fear and screaming raised by tens upon tens of thousands of now-homeless huddled in that make-shift shelter. The women and the children wrapped around each other. The water slowly collecting at their feet. And they have nowhere to run.

My mother answers. She is in tears. Begs me to tell her the worst of the storm has passed. Says the roof is going to come off. She can hear the wood buckling. The shingles peeled off like onion paper. Almost every tree within site has fallen.

When will it stop, she cries? Can you tell me?

I don't let her know I'm crying. Or that I'm about to piss myself with fear. I tell her to hold on for two more hours. She's more than half way through it. Just hold on a little longer.

She tries to stop sobbing. But she's spitting out words between breaths. Panic and fear like I've never heard from my mother. She's always been strong. Always kept us in line. The Matriarch. And now she's uncontrollably weeping to me. From within the clutches of the worst damn storm in American history. And I'm in tears because I can not do anything but listen to what might be her last words to me.

Says they have been running through the house since before dawn. Fighting leaks. Empying buckets of storm water. They can't stop running. They are out of bowls to catch the drops. My grandfather, 85yrs old and nearly buckled in half, has been doing the same. Their phone lines and everyone's power died at five in the morning. They're using two-way radios from work to hear my grandmother's panicked updates.

Mom wants to know when I think it will be over. When can they stop the running? A final sob. And her cell phone dies.

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