Ring-Side Seat
Bev Vines-Haines
Hayward Fault Line Winner

I have always believed the expression, ‘It isn’t the heat; it’s the humidity,’ had to have been coined in New Orleans. I’ve spent my life here. BK and AK. Before Katrina and After Katrina. We all say it just that way.

There’s no question we stay a bit hunkered down every August. Back in 2005, BK, I was eighteen and on the hunt for girls every minute. I regret that now. Of course. I never listened to news and if I’d heard the warnings I would have ignored them. My mother and every adult I knew had a way of dramatizing every situation. I’d been cautioned about lightning, thunderstorms, traffic wrecks, drive by shootings and even earthquakes every morning of my life before I left the house. News broadcasts whipped my mom into great fear every day.

When you’re eighteen, the ladies love you. At least they loved me. And the hotter the days got the more determined I became to get to my special place. I had a cell phone and called my list. Two calls later I had a date with Jenny Pierce. Told her to meet me at the water tower behind the Walmart. That tower was my favorite place for a rendezvous.

The weather blew in fast. My cell phone rang and I knew it would be my mother. I ignored the call. I saw Jenny a block ahead. She was holding her skirt down and her black hair whipped in the wind.

The reason the tower worked so well for lovers was because of a principle I learned early on. If you are up to no good, be sure to do it in plain sight. No one expects that kind of brass. Jenny and I climbed that ladder fast. Without consent of course. The wind was scary but thrilling at the same time. We stored about ten moving pads up on the ledge. We called them room dividers.

We made love. It was crazy. Wind howled. Before long we were pelted by rain and the lightning scared both of us. Jenny lost the mood in a hurry. Finally we peeked out from those room dividers. I swear it felt like the water tower was going to buckle. Jenny moaned. We couldn’t get down.

The wind tried to blow us right off that ledge. We watched the levees give. Guess we were nine or ten miles inland but we could see everything. I’ll never know why but finally the wind slowed a little and we climbed down, holding onto the ladder, the sides and each other.

Jenny took off running. I should have answered my Mom. I never saw her again.

First published: August 2018
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