Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hurricane Fran: Prologue

(This is the part of Dabney Hall I entered and exited.)

As I stepped out of Dabney Hall sometime around 10pm, I saw and felt the heavy rains and winds and knew that the storm was going to hit closer to us than the meteorologists had predicted a few days earlier. Then, the weathermen were saying that Fran was going to glance off of the NC coast. The next update the next day predicted that Wilmington would be directly hit. The last forecast I heard was that Fran’s path would pass between Fayetteville and Wilmington, a good 80 miles from Raleigh. However these winds and rains were something I had never seen before. I had a hunch this was going to be different. I knew we were in for a rough night.
I decided to stop by the Harris Teeter at the Cameron Village on the way home. It wasn’t too far out of the way and I liked it better than the Kroger, Food Lion, or Winn Dixie nearer to where I lived. Even though the prices are higher, the selection is better and there are lots of cute coeds shopping there. However on this night, the place was almost empty, and I’m not just talking about the patrons either. Once I saw the beer and bread had been depleted, I knew something was wrong. It reminded me of days in winter when a snow storm warning had been forecasted. Although the city will be shut down for a day, people load up on bread, milk, eggs and beer. I bought a few frozen items such as some chicken nuggets along with some beer, soda and chips.

I took the back way home instead of taking Morgan to New Bern like I usually do. I was one neighborhood away from mine at the intersection of Glascock and Wake Forest Rd when I noticed that the power was out and would be out all the way home. As I pulled into the driveway, the house was dark but seemed to stand out ominously against the backdrop. I love our house and hope to one day retire here, but at times it can be intimidating the way it stands on the hill looming over all those passing by. When the power is out, the place seems to retain its own inner glow making the house take on a menacing fa├žade.

My mom had some candles burning so I didn’t have any problems finding my way around a powerless house. However, I was hungry; it was late and the lack of power frustrated and irritated me at first. Fortunately I kept my wits about me, went to the patio and started the charcoals. I cooked the chicken nuggets, some hamburgers and a couple of other things and finally washed it down with a beer. Our patio is covered with an aluminium canopy and the way the house is shaped along with the direction the wind was blowing, I was fairly sheltered from the brunt of the storm. At this point, this was the prelude of things to come. My mom told me that things would get worse since the storm was going to directly hit Raleigh as a full Category 1 hurricane with the brunt of it around 2am. What I was seeing then was just a harbinger of things to come. My mom also told me that we were going to have some guests. Not by coincidence, the guests lived in trailers and didn’t want to ride out the storm in their homes, and I can’t say I blamed them. My cousin, her daughter, husband and Nikki were coming up.

Even though my cousin’s mom lives beside her in a brick house, my cousin didn’t have the stomach to suffer through a storm in the same place with my aunt’s boyfriend. Again, I can’t say I blame them. The guy was, we later found out, bipolar as diagnosed by his psychiatrist. It was nice the doctors had a name for his situation but as far as I knew, the man was coo-coo clock crazy. I’ll say more about him later.

The other guest was our hairstylist. Bobby cut hair for several family members, including mine until he moved back to Johnston County because he was sick with cancer. One day at my dad’s poolroom back in Greensboro, someone blurted out a question to me: I bet a homosexual cuts your hair? This was not the kind of place where people drank with their pinkies sticking up. These people drank straight from a bottle or a can, and the drinks were American brands such as Budweiser or PBR. Lite beer was looked upon as la-dee-da. This wasn’t a rough and tumble place, but if one was looking for trouble, it could be found there for someone not watching his step. I was speechless. What could I say? The guy could cut hair. Sometimes OCD has some benefits.

Bobby arrived at our home a little while after I started the grill. I remember him sitting under the patio with us fretting about the wind and rain. The other guests didn’t arrive until an hour later. We had a full house that night and we would have a show that none of us would ever forget.

We were going to have a hurricane party!

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