What Poor People Do In A Hurricane

Turpentine_workers_in_Florida

(Originally Posted at Gods & Radicals)

Turpentine_workers_in_Florida

I wonder how long I’ll be able to see the moon like this, every store and workshop closed by the fist of the goddess Irma. The night shift has been abolished and I’m playing outside with my friends simply because I can. I know it’ll end eventually, that the power will come back, so I’ve got to write down what it feels like. I have to remember what people are like after a hurricane, when the poor have nothing but each other to rely on. I have to remember how that girl almost got kidnapped and how big the blade was that saved her life. Have to remember before the commercials come back and I’m made to wonder how I lived without them. Have to remember…have to remember….

NIGHT OF
Temperature 77 Degrees

As the wind howls around us I can’t help but stare into the street. From torn and slightly battered black drapes I watch a world thought indestructible brought to a standstill. There are no shops open, no lights on, and nobody in the street save for the few police officers driving threateningly by, intent on making sure they don’t surrender their power; even here in the middle of the storm the vague promise of force looms in an attempt to keep the proles off the streets.

“Jesus CHRIST,” a loud slam startles me and turns my head from the window. “Did you hear that?”

“Is it something on the roof? Is the roof being hit with something?” My wife is in bed and packing a bowl, her hands moving from cellphone light to the darkness surrounding us. Green flashes pierce through the holes in curtains, the flames of another blown transformer obscured by sideways shooting rain.

“It’s….it’s the fucking tree. That oak next to the house, it’s slamming into it.”

“Are we going to be okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. As long as it doesn’t spawn any tornados. A little earlier I thou-LOOK! Look there! Hooooly shit look at that.” A sudden gust of wind rips a fence through the river that used to be our driveway, branches following like launched projectiles. The air doesn’t howl but screams, as if the very act of dragging itself along the land was painful.

As we stood in awe I struggle to take notes under the candles. No written description can capture the full gravity of what a hurricane is. 

Folks who’ve never tasted alligator and never will like to believe a hurricane is just like any other big storm. Nothing could be further from the truth. A tornado strikes out of nowhere, disappears and leaves a confused or dead populace; a blizzard pours sheets of sleet and snow but never gains a personality, never gains a spirit.

A hurricane is a different beast entirely. From the moment it is born on the coast of Africa it is named, tracked, and plotted by nearly 20 million Floridians, an energetic focus that might convince most chaos magicians to call it a goddess. It is alive, in every sense of the term, and power is added to it with each word spoken in hushed tones of fear and worry. A hurricane lingers long after the damage it leaves behind. Big storms will be spoken about like dragons seen once in a lifetime, plywood saved for the inevitable next storm bearing the names of previous combatants; these wood shields are often scrawled with dire prayers for the storm to spare them or intimidating calls to “go fuck yourself.”

There we were, members of the same species that dared to walk on the moon, huddled in darkness as wind and water took everything we built for its own. We don’t have money for plywood, and we can’t afford a generator. Whether we live or die may be a forgone conclusion. All we can do is arrange the details.

Or to put it another way, Hurricane Irma is now “the boss.”

“If it gets like that again for more than three minutes we need to go into the downstairs bathroom. That last gust had to be 130. If it stays that way for a set amount of time that’s a fucking tornado.”

Primeval conditions have brought about the abandonment of the merchant class’ territory. Everything seemed open to possibility. I wanted to be out there, wanted to do many things I could never write about publicly, the creative urge to destroy drowning my senses like a beach at high tide. I couldn’t shake the feeling that under this liminal time between worlds scores could be settled and new powers seized. Irma had, if only temporarily, halted Capital in ways most Anarchists could only dream of.

Instead I spent my time running downstairs to fervently mop the water coming up from the floor tiles and the streams of rain pouring through my door. We squeezed out mops by hand and cleaned what we could in the light of small flames; at one point we both held the windows, fearful of them flying away or breaking.

We paced and whispered as the candles flickered, trapped in the structure we were surrounded with. We could only monitor the leaks, tape the holes, and stare out at a watery and hostile realm where streets used to be. Through it all bangs, cracks, and snaps kept our anxiety at a max, hopes and prayers rising that whatever was making the noise would do no permanent damage to my jeep outside. If the gods were cruel we’d be unable to get cheap food or enjoy ac on the way to work; if they were kind I could continue to pay insurance and fear a rogue cop’s ticket destroying the meager savings we depended on.

After awhile it all became too much, and we flopped into bed, putting our faith in whatever dice rolls the spirits had in store for us. I remember praying, right before my eyes closed and I wiped sweat from my brow, that “someone” would watch over us.

BOOM BOOM BOOM

What. The. FUCK. Was. That? What time is it? 3:30am? No no doll, just wait. Let me listen. See? Nothing. Probably just a tree. Now if it were to happen again-

BOOM BOOM BOOM

FUCK! Okay, okay, who is that? Look at that wind! Those trees! That was a piece of goddamn fence right there, nobody’s out in that. What? The two-meth heads that tried to break into a neighbors house. You think? Or maybe the guy who robbed the elderly couple in broad daylight at the mall before that? Decided to try his luck under the cover of Irma? Who else would be out knocking on doors at 3:30am in the middle of a goddamn hurricane?

“What are you doing?” my wife asks as I make my way to the closet.

“Nothing,” I say, “nothing at all.” Six rounds slip into my revolver. “I’m just going to see who’s at the door. Might be somebody who needs my help.”

Silently head downstairs. Draped in darkness, nothing but memory and a heightened sense of adrenaline to guide me. I peer out the front door’s peephole. Nothing, nothing at all. Must have left. I’ll just go back-

BOOM BOOM BOOM!

Okay you fucks, here goes. Carefully now, duct tape peeling away from the edges of the door, water spilling out from behind them. A shadow in the crack, my finger on the trigger, look me in the eye as I make your head into a canoe you goddamn motherfu-

“Hey man, are you okay?”

“What?”

(Read the rest here…)

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Dr. Bones

Dr. Bones is a conjurer, card-reader and egoist-communist who believes “true individuality can only flourish when the means of existence are shared by all." A Florida native and Hoodoo practitioner, he summons pure vitriol, straight narrative, and sorcerous wisdom into a potent blend of poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.

His writing can be found at Gods & RadicalsDisinfo, and Greed Media. He can be reached at The Conjure House and through Facebook.

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