The Walkerville Weekly Reader

National Desk: Hard-hitting journalism from your completely un-biased (pinky swear!) reporters in Walkerville, VA.

Walkerville, VA
Monday, July 8, 2024
Carolyn Purcell, Editor

The Mayor’s Guide to the Hurricane

“It hadn’t properly registered yet with Mayor Nagin that hurricane Katrina wanted to knock the city down and build a lake instead.”

The city stood on a slight depression just on the edge of a swamp. It stood on its own and looked out over a broad expanse of delta marshland. A remarkable city by any means—it was about three hundred years old, French, Spanish, and American, and was ten to twenty feet below sea level with water pumps of a size and proportion which more or less exactly failed to keep the city dry.

One person for whom the city was special was Ray Nagin, and that was because it happened to be the one he was mayor of. He had been mayor of it for about three years, ever since he had left Cox Communications because it made him nervous and irritable. He was about fifty, tall, bald and never quite at ease with himself. The thing that used to worry him most was the fact that people always used to ask him what he was looking so worried about. He was a Democrat which he always used to tell his friends was a lot more interesting than they probably thought. It was, too—most of his friends were Republicans.

On Wednesday it had rained a little, the city was wet and muddy, but the Saturday morning sun was bright and clear as it shone on Mayor Nagin’s house for what was to be the last time.

It hadn’t properly registered yet with Mayor Nagin that hurricane Katrina wanted to knock the city down and build a lake instead.

At eight o’clock on Saturday morning Mayor Nagin didn’t feel very good. He woke up blearily, got up, wandered blearily round his room, opened a window, saw a school bus, found his slippers, and stomped off to the bathroom to wash.

Toothpaste on the brush—so. Scrub.

Shaving mirror—pointed at the ceiling. He adjusted it. For a moment it reflected a second schoolbus through the bathroom window. Properly adjusted, it reflected Mayor Nagin’s bristles. He shaved his head, washed, dried and stomped off to the kitchen to find something pleasant to put into his mouth.

Kettle, plug, fridge, milk, coffee. Yawn.

The word schoolbus wandered through his mind for a moment in search of something to connect with.

The schoolbus outside the kitchen window was quite a big one.

He stared at it.

“Yellow,” he thought, and stomped off back to his bedroom to get dressed.

Passing the bathroom he stopped to drink a large glass of water, and another. He began to suspect that he was hung over. Why was he hung over? Had he been drinking the night before? He supposed that he must have been. He caught a glint in the shaving mirror. “Yellow,” he thought, and stomped on to the bedroom.

He stood and thought. The president, he thought. Oh dear, the president. He vaguely remembered being angry, angry about something that seemed important. He’d been telling people about it, telling people about it at great length, he rather suspected: his clearest visual recollection was of glazed looks on other people’s faces. Something about an evacuation plan he’d just found out about. It had been in the files for years only no one seemed to have known about it. Ridiculous. He took a swig of water. It would sort itself out, he’d decided, no one wanted a mandatory evacuation, the president didn’t have a leg to stand on. It would sort itself out.

God, what a terrible hangover it had earned him though. He looked at himself in the wardrobe mirror. He stuck out his tongue. “Yellow,” he thought. The word yellow wandered through his mind in search of something to connect with.

Forty-eight hours later he was out of the city and crying for Greyhounds while a parking lot filled with big yellow school buses lay underwater.

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