Monday, September 12, 2005

From Memphis, Still

I am laid off. True, the employer called it a "leave of absence," but we know the truth, right? I didn't ask for it and they're not paying me, so I'm laid off. Again. My career, it's not so hot.

We went back to our apartment last week. We were ready to rock, too. We had water, MREs, gas, guns and cash. No one was going to fuck with us. It was me, Sonya, James and Johnnie, my father in-law. If it came down to it, Sonya could have driven while we shot our way out.

There were trees bent over and signs knocked down as far north as Jackson, Mississippi. We ran into gas stations with no gas before we got to Jackson, actually.

"We'll find gas in the next town," James said.

"That's a real Mad Max kind of thing to say," I said.

In McComb the Arby's was closing at six because of the curfew. In Hammond there was gas, but the shelves at all the stores were empty. The water was still up on the service road along the last few miles of I-55, and the traffic was a nightmare.

Airline Highway was fucked up. Buildings demolished, shit strewn everywhere, soldiers at every intersection, the constant thrum of big military helicopters taking off and landing at the airport and at Saints headquarters.

Our apartments were in bad shape, too. Shingles and siding ripped off of every building, trees everywhere. It looked like a lot of people didn't leave, too, because the trash was piled high around the dumpsters and added to the stink that occasionally wafted in from the floodwaters in Orleans Parish.

Our power was on, though, and the toilets were working. We didn't dare drink the water. Lots of people were milling around, either moving in or moving out. I had to climb over a tree to get to the office. They said that if we were going to stay we should pay our rent, but if we were moving out they'd give us our deposit back. Pretty cool.

Our apartment didn't have much damage. The wind from the storm had blown water in around the windows and down the chimney, and dude who lived on the third floor said lots of shingles were gone and the rain had leaked into his place and, eventually, into ours. But nothing was ruined or anything. I'll take a truck back when Jefferson Parish reopens and get the rest of the stuff, probably.

We are in Memphis. We're fine. The family and friends are glad to have us, and John is having the time of his life. Things are up in the air right now. I'll let you know more when I do.