Good Narrative Principles

Sandy Stories: Day Four Without Power


Today is a climax of ill will, bad luck and stagnation, like an extreme I Ching hexagram. Woke up to find a tick on me. My head was spinning, literally. Maybe it was a head cold. Or cardiovascular disease or worse yet a tumor. All likely possibilities that I sift through while lying in bed waiting for the sun to rise and see if what I was feeling on me was indeed a tick. Our son calls from an ambulance. He’s had a bike accident. He thinks he’s OK though his vision is a bit distracted by a persistent moire pattern. We can’t go and see him as traffic is gridlocked and it’s still raining. I’m on a two-hour call with a client when Tim goes out to get gas and the next shoe drops, there is no gas. The lines for the remaining gas wrap around the stations for miles in all directions. Our son is released from the hospital. He’s OK. Battered and high on pain killers. We eat dinner out and I charge my phone.

Later, we head to our friend’s home so that I can send out my notes from the call and then, as we talk, we notice my host’s eyes fluttering close from sheer exhaustion.

It’s been a rough week.

Back in the car, it’s now eleven PM and I’m feeling a mix of panic and optimism. It is late enough I reason that we’ll be able to find gas somewhere in the county. Surely, not everyone is still on the prowl.  We drive randomly down the highway, becoming painfully aware that we’re burning our finite gas as we search in vain to refill. Our strategy quickly morphs from find a gas station with no lines to simply find the gas station with a line because that means there is in fact gas. Police cars line the front of the stations telegraphing both a sense of order and heightened panic what with their flashing lights and all.

We give up and head home. I’m at my lowest ebb, convinced that the lessons I should have learned about how to survive the Nazis have eluded me. Why didn’t I see this coming?

We see a gas station with flashing lights ahead. Tim asks the cop if indeed there is gas and the Cop unbelievably waves us in. We’re confident as we scan the rear view mirror that the next guy in line will beat us up. A big beefy guy with fat knuckles. Instead, the Cop sends everyone else home. We’re the last to gas up.

We go to sleep feeling the warm hand of luck waving us forward.

Ridiculous how that one stroke of luck reassures us.

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