At any other time, standing as he was in the middle of one of Froggtown’s busiest thoroughfares, Danny Blue would have been slammed by a car or truck rolling full-throttle off the interstate and heading towards the downtown area, or into midtown, or even further out near the Georgia coastal islands. Today was different.
Today, there was no traffic entering the city because local newsmen, the mayor, the police department, Chauncey Army Base officials, and the fire department had all warned that Hurricane George was moving up the Florida coast delivering one-hundred-twenty mile winds. It was, they said, traveling a path like a cue ball with a slight curve to it that was going to end in a head-on collision with Froggtown and turn the entire little city into a pile of very distinguished trash.
Danny Blue turned the sound back up on his zPed Music Player just in time to hear Ruzahn sing:
“Got just enough room
to be a friend of yours
oh I hope you got room
to be a friend of mine.”
On the music player, he could touch a button for direct play, satellite radio search, or shuffle, but the only music it ever played was Ruzahn’s because Valerie had programmed it that way. As he stood in the empty street, a light smell and flavor of ocean salt tickled inside his nostrils and mouth. On another day he would have breathed deeply and held the flavor inside until it warmed him throughout. On this day, the clouds that had been shaped like battleships changed to resemble over-sized torpedoes and elongated islands.
This is how it looked when I dreamed I was at the bottom of the ocean and I could see up past the seaweed and the sharks into the sunlight floating glass across the waves, I woke up choking and it was a good thing man I was with Valerie that night cause she kissed me ‘til I went back to sleep. Was that her calling his name? Or was it Ruzahn singing it?
He looked down from the sky to the lane of westbound traffic on the opposite side of the median strip that divided Champion Boulevard for several miles into the city. Unlike the lane in which he stood, where there was no traffic at all, both of the westbound lanes were choked with every kind of vehicle from motorcycles and jeeps to city and school buses, loaded with passengers seeking safety zones, and cars of dozens of models and makes.
Drowning out the Turmoil
The congestion of metal and people and exhaust fumes created a very different picture from the serene floating colors of the sky and a tremor rushed through his chest as he viewed the incredible scene. For as far as he could see toward the west, traffic was clogged with people waiting to get onto the exit for the interstate that would take them northwest to Atlanta or Tennessee, or allow them to double back and head for Alabama, anywhere that would place them out of the range of the hurricane.
“Hey Danny Blue, it’s me dawg, Mason! Look over here!”
The traffic was the same when he looked toward the east: backed up at least as far as Eastland Avenue and probably, he guessed, stretched all the way back to Froggtown University near the marsh. Every ten minutes, a vehicle might move one foot but mostly they were still. A number of people stood outside their cars smoking cigarettes, eating sandwiches, or drinking beer and sodas while two policemen on horses and several others on foot traveled up and down the median strip and the sidewalk on the other side trying to maintain order. Many were trying to talk on cell phones or had music players locked to their ears to drown out the turmoil.
One man stood in front of a woman with a toddler on her hip and a five-year-old holding her hand. The woman cried while violently rocking the child on her hip and the little boy looked wide-eyed at the man yelling how the hell was he to know that the goddamned hurricane was going to change courses and head for Froggtown, and even if he had known where would they have gotten the money to fly all four of them to her parents’ home in Colorado, huhn? Was it his fault she was pregnant again and miserable and the radio said the hurricane was going to knock the shit out of Froggtown in about ten hours? Jesus Christ would he ever get a break in this life?
Another man and woman neither argued nor cried but sold snacks, bottled water, flashlights, and batteries out the back of their camper. They asked five dollars for sixteen-ounce bottles of anything and got it every time. They asked twenty dollars for a standard flashlight with batteries and received it as well. A father and son had closed their gas station in midtown, loaded up their truck with dozens of two-gallon gas containers and were making a killing emptying them at thirty dollars a pop, then driving back to their gas station, refilling, and returning either to Champion Boulevard or going to one of three other streets leading to an exit and just as frozen with unmoving traffic as this one.
NEXT: The Nature of the Irony
zPed Music Player Bonus Story Tracks
© Feb 15, 2016