Saturday, September Eighteenth

  • October 27, 2016
  • Posted by Tim Lawrence

Tell today’s story.

Tell about the woman who cried when you gave her the number for further assistance with mold. Tell about how it was the wrong number and you still need to call her back. Tell how she cried with relief and blessed you through her tears.

Tell about Mary and her grandson Qymon and their trailer of soggy boards and bugs. Tell about Mary asking to keep her three window air units, her two large fans, and her picnic table inside. Qymon kept his basket of legos. The rest went to the curb.

Tell how Qymon stretched with us, wore a tyvek suit and a crew leader helmet and bossed us around. Tell how when Hunter picked him up and flung him around, Qymon laughed and laughed. He told us he’d never done that before.

Tell how it would be cheaper to replace Mary’s home than to work on it. How you had to tell her that her home was not worth saving. How you told her to call FEMA; they’ll be able to assess the damage and pay you. Probably. So I’m told.

Tell about Amanda rolling up with her mother’s home in mind. Tell how you rode with her to the old shotgun house beside her own. Tell about her boy’s first football game of the season the night before. How the boys had high spirits despite the flood, how proud she was of that, and they won. Tell how her mother’s home felt like an old movie. The sink was held up by rough hewn wood.

Tell about Walter. His house with the tile floors and five feet of water. Tell how he’d left a social security card, a certificate of ordination, and two hand guns behind when the water came.

Tell how as you walked back to Mary’s a black SUV rolled up, Amanda in the back laughing, smoking a cigar, leaning over to open the door for you. Her sister driving, her mother in the front seat. Amanda said the home is salvageable. Her sister said the house is wrecked. Her mother said nothing.

“When the water came,” Amanda tells me, “my mother was just sitting on the porch, she didn’t think she’d have to leave. Then the water came rushing out from between the two trailers beside the house. Usually it comes from the creek,” Amanda tells me pointing past her trailer, “and it comes slow and we’re able to warn each other and grab what we can and go. This time it came from there and it came all of a sudden.”

Tell about the man who asked to borrow a crowbar. “Yes, of course,” but Qymon had already given ours to him. He needed it to salvage plywood from the debris pile to make dog houses for his five dogs. Five dogs survived out of the hundred head of animals before the flood.

“Total loss,” the man with the crowbar tells me. His shirt says “John” on it. The whole house is gone. “I’ll go live near my daughter, love and happiness. Her mother,” he tells me, “left when my girl was ten. I raised her. Every day she went to school, with clothes, fed. I did that alone,” he tells me. “I put her through two colleges and she’s a nurse now. I’m proud of that, nothing I’m more proud of than that. Her and I,” he tells me, “are two peas in a shell.”

Tell how a car turns onto the street, honks, and John leans back to look in as it drives past. “You pimpin’,” he says now holding the toothpick that had been in his mouth, “you pimpin.” The car with two men drives away and out of sight.

“I raised that boy,” he tells me, “since he was as big as Qymon over there and he ain’t worth fifty cents now. I taught him to ride a horse, and now he ain’t worth fifty cents. He still hasn’t come by to see how I’m doing, to help with the home. People are cold when you’re in trouble,” he tells me, “but it’s alright, what goes around comes around, God’s never sleeping,” he says. “God’s never sleeping. I raised my daughter, my son, my wife left me and my daughter’s a nurse and my wife hates me, but I took care of my kids. You’ve got to give blessings, because you’ll get that blessing back. My boy, worthless, will come crawling on his hands and knees one day.”

“I’ve had two heart attacks and three strokes,” John tells me. “After the third the doctors told me not to keep things in. Now I don’t, I let people know what I think of people. I tell them what I feel. I’m alright,” he tells me, “I’m alright.”

Tell about the man wearing “John” on his shirt walking away toward his total loss house past the debris on each side of the road and the smoke that smells like plastic.


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