Excerpt from Aransas Evening
By Jeff Hampton
The wind blew up clouds of rain mixed with grit off the pavement as Sam rushed toward the Dream Bean and climbed the front steps into the eye of a different type of storm.
“After we board up these windows we need to get off the island,” said Dave, dragging a sheet of plywood in front of the plate glass window.
“No, this is my home,” said Shelly. “You go if you wish, but I’m staying here.”
“But the mayor issued a mandatory evacuation. You’re just going to ignore that?”
“Yes. And I’m going to ignore you too, so you can go jump on the ferry with everyone else if you want, but I’m staying here.”
Dave exhaled loudly. “We could die if we stay, you know.”
Shelly stood firmly, hands on hips. “How do you know so much? Been through some hurricanes in Dallas, have you?”
“No . . . but have you?”
“Not directly, but . . .”
“But what? Allie’s the only one of us who knows anything about this.” Dave shot Allie a glance that said, “Need your help here,” but Allie, who had been drawn outside by the loud talk, wasn’t going to help the way Dave wanted.
“My mother was swept away by Ike because she went out in the storm,” Allie said. “We’ll be okay if we stay inside.”
Dave struggled to hold the sheet of plywood by himself and when he reached for the drill he lost his grip and the wood fell back against him. “A little help would be nice,” he growled at the women, but Sam stepped up to help hold the plywood in place while Dave drilled the screws into the corners and across the sides.
“Where you been? We were looking for you,” Dave asked after pulling a screw from his shirt pocket and pushing it flush into the wall with the drill.
“Fishing . . . so . . . what’s the latest forecast?”
Dave brought Sam up to date as they finished covering the windows at the Dream Bean: Harvey’s path was still uncertain but he was gaining strength so everyone was preparing for the worst. The rain and wind were coming in waves now, and Dave and Sam went next door to the Cassie and covered the windows on the boat, and then moved tables and chairs from the Sea Garden into the pilothouse and inside the Dream Bean. Standing inside the Cassie with the rain blowing hard outside, Sam had a flashback to that night on the boat with Bo and Allie. He recalled the helpless feeling that they wouldn’t survive and yet they did. With his feet on the firm ground this time he didn’t feel lost like he had but he was still anxious knowing there were a thousand ways this could go bad.
Inside the Dream Bean, with everything stowed away, Shelly looked around while unconsciously wiping the counter with a dry cloth. Dave put his hand on Shelly’s and stopped her movement.
“I think we’ve done all we can,” he said. “And I’m sorry if I’m edgy but I just don’t like taking risks when there are other options. If it were up to me I’d have us a hundred miles north of here. But I guess if I’m going to live here with you then I better start learning how this is done.”
The ferry wailed from its landing down the street and everyone looked at each other. Dave shook his head knowing they wouldn’t hear that much longer.
Shelly looked around the room and changed the subject. “Thanks everyone for helping here. I know you all have work to do at your own places so better get going. I’ll be fine here.”
Nobody moved. Shelly made a shooing motion with her hands but nobody would shoo.
“I’ve done all I can do,” said Allie.
“Me too,” said Dave. “I got everything up off the floor this morning and I’ve got shutters so I’m protected . . . sort of.”
“What about you Sam?” Shelly asked.
“The house is okay. I’ve got nothing worth protecting . . . just my vinyl records, and they’re waterproof. I could use a hand at the Pier Association, but then so could a lot of folks down here. Why don’t we spread out and see what we can do.”
“I’ll go with Sam,” said Allie.
“And we’ll check on some of the other shops,” said Shelly. “We’ll keep the door unlocked and meet you back here later.”
When Sam and Allie got to the office they found the windows already boarded up.
“Looks like you’ve taken care of everything,” Allie said.
Sam shook his head. “It wasn’t me.”
“Well you’ve got people watching your back,” she said.
“Yes, and we should do the same,” he said, and for the rest of the afternoon and on into the evening they meandered from business to business, boat to boat, house to house, lending a hand wherever they could.