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Mack Williams: Post Michael, Pt. 1

Mack Williams

Today’s column is one of two parts dealing with my experience of the aftermath of Tropical Storm Michael here in Danville, Virginia.
My neighborhood’s power went out a couple of hours before the sun’s power seemed to cease: sunset
The pressure of the storm had actually forced the rain through the corners of storm windows, making me think of the great pressure of deep-sea water on the hull of submarines in old World War II movies I’d seen. Those movie submarines “groaned” with the weight of millions of tons of water pressure upon their hulls, but despite the great pressure of wind and rain upon the “hull” of my apartment, there was no point at which it “gave a groan” (like those dead sailors in “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”).
With still no power the next morning, I drove to the nearest Hardee’s or McDonald’s for coffee. On Danville’s Riverside Drive, the “green, yellow and red” of the traffic lights had been replaced by the singular “florescent lime” of the vests of police directing traffic. The parking lots of the fast food, and other businesses were empty, some full of water, water about the same color as my coffee after I’ve added a little cream (my parents, Bernard and Lorraine Williams were much stronger people than I; they drank theirs black).
One section of Business 29 adjacent to the Dan River had the river “lapping at its heels” (or rather, its sides), and I had the strange idea that the guardrails had failed to stop it (but of course, their purpose is only to keep cars from going in). I suddenly thought of American and German amphibious vehicles of World War II (those with me at Granite Quarry and East Rowan will recall that back then I sometimes seemed to be “wandering around” in The World Wars).
One of the city’s many fallen great trees especially stood out in that its roots had raised a section of sidewalk at a 45 degree angle. With Halloween being not far off, the city might just as well have left the raised slab, since it resembled a raised crypt lid anyway. Many pre-Halloween “yard scenes” crafted by Tropical Storm Michael would have frightened the trick-or-treaters. I passed an actual Halloween-themed front yard and mistook it at first for storm damage!
I decided to drive 11 miles south to Yanceyville’s McDonald’s for coffee, since “electrical power-wise,” Danville resembled “The day the Earth stood Still”(1951), minus Gort walking about.
On the way, I noticed a small creek swollen to Dan River proportions, and one large, low-lying, timber-cut area turned into the Mississippi.
The Yanceyville McDonald’s was “standing room only,” made up mostly of people from Danville. Just in front of me in that long line, a man talked lovingly to his toddler children, picking them up and snuggling them now and then, even speaking “baby talk.” When he finally arrived at the cashier, she informed him that the internet was down, and she could only accept cash, informing him of the location of the nearest ATM. Upon hearing this, this man lost his sweet demeanor, said something (not baby talk) rather “snarlingly” to the cashier, then snatched up his children (much more vigorously this time), and they were on their way.
Back in Danville, the Dan River was now only 20 feet from the Carrington Pavilion,where the Danville Symphony sometimes performs. I imagined a fanciful situation of brass instruments in continual play, continually filling with saliva, with which the “water key” (the horn’s built-in “saliva release system”) could not keep pace, like a variation of Sisyphus and Tantalus in Greek Mythology.
( To be concluded next week in: “Believe it or Not, it Floated!”)

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