A lot of people are going to ride out Irene. We didn't evacuate either twenty years ago. Sanibel Island was right in the line of the hurricane and by the time we realized we were supposed to leave they had closed the bridge because the storm was too close. So the newlyweds had to ride out the storm with the stubborn islanders who never leave. Restaurants were closed and gas stations boarded up. The sky turned black and then night fell. The wind kicked up to the point you could lean forward without falling. We returned to our condo on the beach and promptly lost power.
We were on our honeymoon and nothing bad happens on honeymoons. Still you wondered as the wind shook the windows and the rain went sideways. We lit candles and made our ocean front home of two weeks as cozy as possible. There was no one on the beach. There was no one anywhere. We wondered how stupid we had been to ignore the warnings on the television. How stupid were we to go to dinner when everyone else was driving for the bridge off the island. Really stupid we decided.
And like a anyone who has lost power you realize there is simply nothing to do. The wind was howling so loud that there was no putting out the third guest on our marital celebration. He was there. I think his name was IVAN. He made a lot of noise and was pretty rude. We drank champagne still cold in the fridge but my new wife was very nervous. We decided to face our fears and go out on the beach. We just one upped the stupidest decision yet.
The sound on the beach was easy to define. A freight train. The storm was just off the coast and we stared out into the stormy wild darkness of the Atlantic ocean and could almost imagine a train out there. The wind was bad but not as bad as one would think in a hurricane. A man approached leaning forward in a yellow rain slicker. You didn't evacuate? We shook our heads. He turned. She's out there. And then he trudged on against the invisible hand holding him up. We stared in awe at the monster just off the coast and went back inside.
My wife went to sleep and the wind increased. The howl was deafening. I took our video camera and interviewed myself. This was a lot different than our hour long interviews on the beach about how we felt being married. I did a CNN interview, telling about what was happening, wondering if this might the be the only thing they would find. When I look at it now I am red and the candles are orange and the howling freight train drowns out my voice. Then I went to bed.
In the morning the sun was bright and the ocean calm. Everything had washed up on the beach including a giant buoy still blinking. We collected shells and stared at all the fish and crabs and ocean debris. We never talked about the hurricane and I never told my wife about my last interview. We had survived and survivors don't look back.
"Rocket Man is a hilarious, well written novel about one man's search for the New American Dream." James Frey, author A Million Little Pieces and Bright Shiny Morning