I just realized that I have not even introduced myself. Please forgive me, the last few days have been a bit of a strain. My name is James Hudson Nash. No joke. My father was really into cars.
Not that it really matters. Being the sole character in this narrative, that will probably never be read I could just say "My name is _____ " and my imaginary readers would not care.
I still don't know how I got down from the top of the Hyatt. Whenever I try to remember I just get a case of brain lock. I do remember looking up at the top of the hotel and not really recognizing it. The Hyatt is, like many late twentieth century buildings, a large glass and steel cracker box, with the exception of the Skies revolving restaurant. It squats atop the building like an ugly UFO. The food is supposed to be really great, but a bit pricey. Never ate there. Not that it matters now, because its gone. The entire restaurant was obliterated. Bits and pieces of burning debris were raining down all over the big circle drive. I ducked under the large awning in front of the hotel just as a monstrous burning tire crashed down on top of a still idling taxi.
Large portions of KC are burnt to the ground. Judging by the smoke, some fires are burning even as I write this. The rain that the channel 5 weather guy promised for that afternoon put most of the fires out but I still felt safer getting out of the city. Considering the plans I had started the day with I guess it is somewhat ironic that I was not worried about my safety. I saw two other planes go down over the city.
I thought about calling somebody, but who? If this was a worldwide phenomena then it would do no good to waste time calling anyone. If it was just local then sooner or later someone would notice without me calling them.
I walked home from downtown. The roads were just too clotted with cars to get through by car. It is about nine miles from the Hyatt to my apartment in Independence it took me most of the day.
On the way home I saw dozens, no make that hundreds of wrecked cars but not a single person. A couple of times I heard voices but those just turned out to be car radios Since none of them were buzzing about three planes going down in KC I assumed they were all prerecorded programs. I peeked in several car windows. I saw only empty clothes. In one I saw a prosthetic arm still clutching the steering wheel. A watch strapped to the ersatz limb counted the time. It was a solar powered watch and as long as the arm it was attached to remained exposed to the sun it would continue keeping time forever as far I knew. For some reason I found that depressing.
I was tired by the time I got home so all I wanted to do was just crash on the couch. But, naturally my upstairs neighbor had not been thoughtful enough to turn his stereo down before he had evaporated. So I kicked the door in of his apartment and using a golf club found by the door, I smashed his stereo to bits. Sure I could have just turned it off, but this was so much more satisfying.
I got to thinking about all the appliances that had been left on when everyone went away. Ovens, saws, blenders, refrigerators.
I helped myself to a beer from his fridge before going back downstairs.
Home was a simple one bedroom basement apartment. The apartment complex is called Vaille Manor. They borrowed the name from the Vaille Mansion across the street. Lisa loved that place. The mansion, not the apartments. I moved there after she died. It was cheap. Our house was taken back by the bank. They tend to do that when they don't get any money for six months. I could have easily paid the mortgage. Lisa had purchased a life insurance policy for both of us as soon as she found out she was pregnant. They had paid without protest. But Lisa usually handled the finances. It really just never occurred to me to pay it. Pathetic excuse I know, but that was just the plain truth. My boss was more patient with me than I deserved, but he had to give my job to someone else when I did not show up or call for that first month. It doesn't help when you just don't care.
I like the basement apartment because it is cool down there, even in the summer I rarely have to use the AC. When I woke up the lights were out. Nothing really unusual, My apartment shares the breaker box as the building's laundry room. Sometimes someone will get all four washers and all four dryers going at the same time and the master breaker will pop. The manager used to tell me that he would fix it, but never did.
With the intent of grabbing a flashlight in the kitchen and heading around back to check the breakers I stood up off the couch. And put my feet down in six inches of cold water.
I could hear the gurgling of water coming up through the drains. There is a pump that is supposed to keep that from happening, but with the power out it obviously was not working. I slogged into the kitchen to get the flashlight and a peculiar thing happened. I suddenly felt like I was being watched. I have never been prone to paranoia but with everything that had happened that day I suppose it was not surprising. Once I had the flashlight in hand I quickly verified that I was indeed alone.
I went outside and saw that lights were out everywhere. The only light was what little moonlight was filtering through the clouds. But I did not need to see to know that I could not stay in my apartment anymore. The rain was pounding down. I ducked back inside and quickly packed up my stuff.
Since Lisa and Chris died there is little that I actually possess that I give a shit about. I have an MP3 player and about two dozen memory cards for it filled with my favorite tunes, another bunch of memory cards with all my writing and photo albums. Lisa was not much into knick knacks, but she had a small collection of pewter animals. She sometimes joked about building a tiny pewter ark for them. But the most important thing was the urn. Not Lisa's. Her parents had arranged for her to be buried in the family plot while I was preoccupied with Chris in the hospital. I never forgave my father in law for that. Lisa had never completely lost her childhood fear of the dark or closed spaces. The thought of being buried terrified her.
The urn is Christopher's. It was just about the size of a chicken egg, It was made from polished brass. Inside was a pitifully small amount of ashes. A metal tag was stamped with a number so that if the urn is ever lost it can be identified through a national registry. The funeral home did not normally carry urns this small in stock. It was actually supposed to be a demo unit. The funeral director was one of those rare people that is in the career he was meant for. He had this uncanny ability know exactly what you needed to hear and was genuinely sorry for my loss. He even went so far as to donate the services of the chapel. I will always be thankful to him for his kindness.
Even with a few changes of clothes, I walked out of there with just one gym bag and a walking stick I have had since I was twelve. I took refuge in a house up the street. My reason for choosing it was simple. The door was open.
It will do for now.
Don't know how much longer I am going to be able to keep up this journal with the power out.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride