SINK OR DIE

SINK OR DIE – By Dean O. Arutoghor

He had begged her to stay. He had enough supplies to see them through Hurricane Harvey, he reasoned. Besides, if it came to it, he would row them to safety with the dinghy he had tied to the side of the house.

Sally-Ann knew deep down she could always rely on Lee to get them out of any jam. He had proven that over and over again since they had known each other since childhood.

‘But there is somebody else to worry about now, Lee,’ Sally-Ann said, placing a delicate hand on her heavily pregnant stomach.

‘This baby needs me…This baby needs us,’ she pleaded with him.

They held each other and cried for what seemed like an eternity before she eventually got into their neighbour’s 4×4. Lee promised the Johnson’s that he would look out for looters, the main reason he was refusing to evacuate. They thanked him and asked him again whether he was sure he didn’t want to come with them. He ushered them and Sally-Ann into the car and hurriedly waved them goodbye before the tears could betray his fear.

Thirty minutes later, Hurricane Harvey unleashed its fury.

Storried Sink or Die

That was four days ago. Five days in which he had lost electricity, gas and phone contact with the outside world. Five days in which the floods had swept away his dinghy and had somehow dumped it five streets away. Five days in which he had been going crazy with worry about whether his Sally-Ann and the Johnson’s had made it to safety before disaster struck. Five days in which the remnants of Hurricane Harvey had breached his home and the rising water was now up to his neck, in the upstairs bedroom. Furniture floated past his nose, sometimes bumping him as they bobbed past.

Still. Still, he refused to leave.

There he was. Stubborn as a mule. Standing to attention. Alternating between shivering and drifting in and out of consciousness. Gun to his side and his treasured confederate flag wrapped around him.

He heard his bedroom window smashed in. Lee started to rouse.

‘Give me your hand,’ a faint voice called out.

His eyes fluttered open.

His vision was hazy with hunger and hypothermia.

He saw the outstretched arm and managed a slow, painful smile. He wouldn’t die this after all. There is a God, he thought to himself.

With as much effort as he could muster, he prised his fingers from the trigger of his gun and started to raise his hand to the rescuer.

Then he looked at the hand again. It was a black man’s hand. Instinctively, he put his hand back on his gun.

‘Don’t be foolish, bro. Give me your hand. You don’t have much time,’ the black man pleaded.

‘I am not your bro. You hear me? Never. Never…Get off my fucking land, nigger,’ Lee managed to sneer.

‘Give me your goddamn hand.’ The rescuer was shouting at him now.

With venom in his gaze, Lee started to lower himself into the water. The water was up to his chin, then his bottom lip, then over his snarling top lip…The rescuer jumped in.

Three hours later, Lee, at the evacuation centre in Lakewood church, wrapped in swathes of blankets,

A relieved Sally-Ann gently places his baby boy in his shaking arms.

When his baby yawns, Lee puts his mouth close to his and inhales as if his life depends on it. Then the tears come. He cries and cries as he stares at his baby in disbelief.

‘Hey,’ he calls out to the rescuer as he spots him getting ready to leave. The rescuer turns to him.

Lee wants to say ‘thank you’ but all he can manage is a nod.

The rescuer stares at Lee for quite a while before eventually nodding back. He turns his back on Lee and returns to work.

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SINK OR DIE

By Dean O. Arutoghor 

He had begged her to stay. He had enough supplies to see them through Hurricane Harvey, he reasoned. Besides, if it came to it, he would row them to safety with the dinghy he had tied to the side of the house.

Sally-Ann knew deep down she could always rely on Lee

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