Jul 8, 2009

The plan

He would wait until the highway was flooded with cars. When they were all escaping, panicking, the drivers honking and swearing and steaming and all backed up northbound. He would wait until then, until right before the full force of the storm bore down, right before, when the palm trees were bent over, almost breaking down and blown away and everything not nailed down was being thrown inland. And then he'd go.

He'd go south.

Everybody else would be going north, running away, and the news helicopter would be up there in the rain shooting live this line of cars crammed in with their lights on wipers whipping at the lashing storm and they'd see him: the one lone car speeding South.

He might just be the Heating & AC man, but he had a plan.

He left the weather channel on the whole season, watching the tropical storms and the warm pressure pockets and waiting for a really good hurricane to hit. His truck was already packed. He could go in a minute.

He'd wear his wet suit on the drive down. He'd drive without stopping. He'd eat the sandwiches he'd have in a cooler and he'd drink the Diet Coke he'd packed. He would speed down there and get there when it was perfect. Completely empty. Towns and houses and streets, all empty. The beaches as empty as anywhere in the whole country. The houses all abandoned, the yards all unwatched. A lot of times the storm wouldn't even hit and he would have 12 hours, maybe 24 or even 30, where there was nothing and no one but him. And if it did come he was ready. He'd have his SCUBA gear and two air tanks. All checked and packed.

He'd get there and it'd all be perfect. He'd have his waterproof binder of all the maps he'd made of all the shipwrecks, pirate hideaways and explorer's expeditions and conquistador trips criss-crossing Florida and he'd have his shovel and his SearchMaster Pro II metal detector with the extra-depth detection and the headphones. And he'd go treasure hunting. People would probably see him one of these days when they do the news of the hurricane coming, seem him speeding South or out on the beach in his wet suit, searching for what he knew was there, and then he'd disappear and no one would ever hear from him again.

Yeah, thought the Heating & AC man, they'd never hear from me again, and then he cut open the box of his brand-new, bubble-wrapped, mail-ordered metal detector.