Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Charlie, Part One.

SO I had a near death experience. Sounds corny as hell, but its true.

Hurricane Charley was commng, and a buddy of mine suggested that we go hang out at this house he was taking care of, with him, girlfriend and his son while the storm was coming through. The house was all brick, my apartment is made of cardboard, so I figured that would be the safest thing to do. Little did I know.

The storm was supposed to roll in on a Friday night, so around noon I left home and headed down there. We had a nice setup going, some food, some wine, playing games, watching TV, that kind of shit. At one point I even left the house to go back to my apartment because I had forgotten to take the chairs off my balcony which apparently you're supposed to do so they don't go airborne and break your windows.

The drive back to my place was kind of eerie. There were absolutely no cars on the road, the rain was blowing sideways, and I was changing lanes whether I wanted to or not. At one point I passed a bunch of kids on the side of the road riding one of those wave skimmer board things on the grass next to the sidewalk, because the area was flooding. Very, very, surreal.

I got back to the house and we were trying to pick a movie to watch. We ended up watching Pirates of The Caribbean actually. Then the power went out, which put a damper on the movie, so we lit a bunch of candles, and started setting up the board to play backgammon.

Then the storm started to get serious, and we were like; fuck, we’re fucked. So I started walking around the house picking my shit up and putting it back into my bags in case we had to bolt if the windows blew in or something.

All of a sudden there was this loud ass bang, and when I say loud ass bang, I mean a loud ass BANG.

The wind instantly blew out all the candles, and the whole house went black, there was insulation, dust and shit flying everywhere. The kid was screaming, his girlfriend had this stunned look on her face, and everything in my head was going in slow motion. I started running to the front door. In slow motion. Problem is, the house had wooden floors and they had gotten soaked and covered with dust pretty much instantly. For a while I was doing the Fred Flintstone thing where your feet go like crazy but you don’t actually go anywhere, and I probably looked like a right fucking idiot. After what seemed like forever, I made it to the front door, and turned around to look back at the inside of the house.

The roof, right above where I was standing, and I do mean right above where I was standing, was gone, and when I mean gone, I mean it was totally gone. In its place was this big ass tree branch that was about 2 feet thick at its thickest point. The branch went across the entire living room, and into the kitchen, and it had obliterated the roof everywhere in between.

So we made what we eventually found out was a very bad idea and left the house to go find shelter somewhere else. I took the kid and the girl, the two cats, and booked. We were driving around in the middle of the storm, it was crazy. The wind was howling around the doors and windows in my car, it sounded like I was doing about a zillion miles an hour. I drove west until we got under I-4, and I parked there trying to figure out what to do next. The whole time I was doing this, I was thinking, “fuck, now a 2x4 or a grapefruit or some shit is going to come flying through my windshield, impale me to the seat of the car, and I’ll be dead”.

So we sat there and waited and waited. I’m trying to figure out how to keep the kid from freaking – the whole time he scared and asking for daddy, I have no idea what the hell to tell him. Kathy and I are communicating via text messages, because I couldn’t talk in front of the kid. And I can’t get his dad on the phone for shit.

I turned on the radio, and after flipping through about ten country stations that were miraculously still going strong, I finally got one that was playing the news. That's when I heard that the storm was traveling up the I-4 to Orlando. This of course is just what I wanted to hear, while being parked in Orlando, underneath the I-4.

After sitting there for a while, I notice that there was this big Marriot like a block away. Around the same time I finally get Wade on the phone, so we arrange to meet and pull in. We go inside, and there are all these people in the ballroom, we get some food and some drinks in the bar, and wait for the storm to pass. Turns out that the wall blew off the side of the building and some people suddenly had a nice view looking out over empty space. About ten stories up. That must have been fun.

The storm passed and then we had nowhere to go, Mariott was going to ass-rape us on a room, so we decided go back to my apartment. The whole time I was thinking that my apartment was probably a blown out shell and the looters were rifling through my porn collection, but when I got there, I had power, cable, internet, A/C was cranking, and everything was perfect. Go figure.

The next day we go back to the house. Turns out that the tree that decided to make sweet sweet love to the roof was originally about fifty feet tall, and what looked like the top third of it broke off. Luckily, the part that landed on the house and broke through the roof missed the place I was standing by about 1m. Literally, 1m.

And that was my Hurricane Charlie experience.


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