I can hear the alarm on Annabelle’s phone going off through my thin walls and it wakes me up.
I get dressed, knock on her door and ask, “Would you like me to make you some breakfast?”
“No, I don’t have the time. I’ll eat at school; I get free breakfast and lunch there.”
“Okay. That’s fine I guess.”
“I like your cooking, but I just realized that I need to get my school bag, change my clothes and then I’ll probably be confronted by my mom and her boyfriend.”
We finish getting dressed. I put my Casio F-91W watch on my wrist, then retrieve my Samsung Rugby 4 flip phone and my Klein Electrician’s Knife off my night table and put them in my pants pockets.
Annabelle asks me, “What time is it?”
“5:42,” I answer, looking at my watch.
“We need to get going, then.”
“It still dark. Let me get my flashlight.” I go to the utility room and get my Mini Maglite from my Craftsman tool satchel. It still works well but is really beat up from when I used it on my job.
I put some fresh batteries from my kitchen drawer in the flashlight and turn it on.
“Come on, Johnny, I’m going to be late,” Annabelle says with a slight irritation.
“Sorry. I’m just trying to keep us safe in the dark.”
We then walk out my front door and I engage the deadbolt. We walk across my porch, then down the steps, through my yard and then onto the sidewalk. I lock the gate of my hurricane fence and we head out to the apartment complex by the light of my flashlight. It’s very warm this morning and the wind is eerily still. I silently ponder to myself if this is the calm before the storm.
We continue on to the apartment complex and Annabelle finally says, “I’m sorry if I rushed you earlier, bae, I’m just nervous about how my mom and her boyfriend will react when they see me walk in.”
“I wish there was something I could do.”
“Just be there for me.”
“Of course. You know I’m not going anywhere, well maybe except to Melinda’s Superstore,” I say, then kiss her forehead.
Annabelle giggles, then sweetly tells me, “I’m so glad to have you in my life, Johnny!”
“I’m glad to have you too, Annabelle!”
She smiles brightly then wraps me in a strong hug. I rub her love handles. We kiss each other wildly beneath the glow of a street lamp. She rubs my hairy chest with her soft hands and I pet her head. A car passes by and honks at us. We are both startled.
Annabelle asks me, “What time is it now?”
I activate the lime green LED light on my watch and quote the time, “It’s 5:51.”
“We need to hurry then,” Annabelle says.
Hand in hand we walk to the apartment complex and up to her mother’s unit.
She gives me a hug and a kiss then says, “I’ll call you as soon as I get out of school.”
“Sure thing, bae.”
“Yes, I always wanted someone to call bae and also call me bae! But, I didn’t think he’d be as sweet or cute as you.”
“We’ll always be bae to each other, I promise!”
We kiss each other goodbye once more and I head back to my house.
When I arrive, I look at my watch which says “6:02.”
I realize that Melinda’s is now open so I unlock the deadbolt, enter my front door, get my Helping Hand Deluxe shopping cart out of my utility room then walk out the front door again and engage the deadbolt. Then I walk down my steps, through my yard, and to the sidewalk and lock my hurricane fence. The sun is starting to come up so I turn off my Mini Maglite.
I walk the block and into Melinda’s. The automatic doors slide wide open and I am hit with a blast of cool air.
The store director says, “Good morning Johnny, you’re early today.”
“Good morning. I’m coming get some hurricane supplies, just in case Alidore makes his way here.”
“I expect to see plenty others coming for the same thing, so it’s a good thing you came early.
I walk to the merchandise section and I get some more AA batteries for my Mini Maglite. Then I see a display of Life Gear Mini Pro 40L LED flashlights. I have read LEDs never need replacing, last longer on a set of batteries and are much brighter. Not to mention these flashlights take cheaper AAA batteries instead of AA. So I get a pink one for Annabelle and a blue one for me. I also get extra AAA batteries for these lights. Then I see a Life Gear Glow Spot LED floating lantern, so I place it in my shopping cart as well. Finally, I get some wing nuts. Afterwards, I go to the soft drink aisle and grab a twelve pack of store brand creme soda, a twelve pack of store brand cherry cola and a twelve pack of store brand lemonade. Next, I get several Gallon jugs of drinking water. Then I go to the dry goods aisle and buy a box of Twinkies, a case of Vienna Sausage, a jar of Jif peanut butter and a loaf of store brand sliced bread.
Finally, I walk to a register and place the items on the conveyor belt.
“Getting ready for Alidore,” The cashier asks me.
“Yes,” I reply.
“Where’s your girlfriend?”
“Going to school.”
The cashier then looks puzzled then asks, “She isn’t underage, is she?”
“No, she made eighteen last month,” I reply, then continue, “Believe me, I wouldn’t mess with jail-bait. I got enough strikes against me and the last thing I need is a criminal record.”
She then scans my items and sees the pink Life Gear flashlight, smiles and asks, “Are you getting this for her?”
“Yes and the blue one is for me,” I show her my old Mini Maglite, then say, “I think it’s time for an upgrade, look how beat up this one is. It still works though.”
“I think I’ll get one for me and one for my husband too. He’s special needs, so I am driving us out of the city as soon as my shift ends.”
“Where are you going to?”
“Just as far inland as possible, hopefully, there will be a shelter we can find,” She pauses and then asks, “Where are you and your girlfriend going?”
“We’re just going to sit it out at my house.”
“We would sit it out too, but my husband is on Oxygen, so we need to be near an electrical source.”
“I’ll pray for you and your husband then.”
“Thank you, Johnny!”
She finishes scanning my items then charges them to my revolving account. Afterwards, she places them in my cart and I get some cafe’ au lait in the food court. I sit leisurely and sip my blend coffee, chicory, and hot milk because I know the next few hours will be hectic.
After a while, I look at my watch. It indicates “7:17.” So, with that, I head out of the store with my purchases.
The sun is now completely up and it is much warmer, but still eerily calm. I walk the block then unlock my hurricane fence and enter my yard.
While walking across my yard, Mrs. Angela stands by the fence and asks me, “How did it go with you and Annabelle?”
“Let me pick up my stuff and I’ll come over and tell you all about it.”
“Oh, I can’t wait to hear!”
I then walk up my steps onto my porch and unlock my deadbolt, then walk through my living room, into the kitchen and place the soft drinks and bottled water in my old refrigerator, the bread, Twinkies and Vienna Sausage in my cabinets. Then I place the flashlights, batteries, and lantern on my bed. I leave my house and walk over to Mrs. Angela’s. There is a city truck parked against the curb in front of her house. I wonder who is there.
So I walk into her yard, walk up her steps and knock on her door.
“Hello there, Johnny.”
“Hi, Mrs. Angela. Why is there a city truck here is everything okay?”
“That’s my son’s work truck-he’s a firefighter.”
Suddenly I hear a man’s voice, “I’m not a firefighter, Ma, I am a fleet mechanic for the fire department.”
“Well, you’re still on the team.”
Her son then comes walking out of her utility room.
“Hi, I’m Roger Fulton. What’s your name?”
“Johnny Elder, I live next door.”
Mrs. Angela looks at Roger and says, “Johnny always looks out for me and helps me out a lot.”
“Well, I’m glad you help my momma because I always have to work.”
Mrs. Angela then looks at me and asks, “So what’s going on with you and Annabelle?”
“Well, let’s put it this way: I’m sure glad you set us up.”
“See, aren’t you glad you gave it a try?”
Mrs. Angela smiles, then says, “Be sure to always treat her right and make her feel special. If you do, she’ll bring you plenty of joy.”
Roger then says, “Ma, I’m going to try and hook up your new generator.” He then goes outside.
“Okay, son,” Mrs. Angela replies.
I look at her and say, “I have to put up the boards on my windows.”
“Don’t do it alone. You don’t want to mess up your back any worse than it is. I mean, how could you be a lover to Annabelle then?”
I blush and say, “You’re right. But who would help me?”
“I can get Roger to help you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, especially if you can help him get my generator hooked up. I mean you were an electrician, right?”
“Well I was an electrician’s helper and almost became an electrician, but I do know a thing or two.”
“Good. Then go help him.”
I see Roger standing on the outside of the house with a frustrated look on his face.
“Do you need help,” I ask him.
“Yes, I know all about the engine itself, but wiring it is another story.”
“Let me try.”
“But I don’t think you would know how.”
“I was an electrician’s helper for five years and almost became a licensed electrician. I can try.”
“Okay. Have at it.”
I look at the wires and the switch panel and begin to match them correctly.
I begin to connect the wires as I say, “Bending over to work like this really hurts my back. I injured it in a fall while working. If it wasn’t for that, I’d probably be a fine electrician by now,” I tell Roger.
“That’s a shame, man because you appear to know what you’re doing,” Roger replies.
With sharp pain, I keep working and I finally I get it wired.
“Now, let’s test it,” I say, catching my breath.
“All right, let’s see if you did this right.”
Roger walks inside and says, “Ma, I’m going to try out the generator. If the power goes out, that’s why.”
Roger disconnects the line current. A half-minute later the generator starts up. Roger and I high-five each other. The lights are back on at Mrs. Angela’s house.
We then switch back to the grid current and the generator stops. Roger and I walk back into Mrs. Angela’s front door.
She looks at Roger and asks him, “Could you help, Johnny board up his windows after you do mine? He injured his back and I don’t want him to ruin it more, especially now since he has a girlfriend.”
Both Roger and I blush, but then he says, “Sure thing, Ma.”
“Roger, I’ll help you board up your mother’s house, too. I’ll hand you whatever small pieces I can, like the fasteners.”
“Good deal,” Roger says.
With that, we get to work.
Roger lifts all the boards from Mrs. Angela’s shed and also gets her ladder. He hands me an old medication vile filled with the wingnuts and says, “Hold this and follow me.”
He then climbs up the ladder securing the boards to the bolts, then I hand him a wing nut for each bolt. We do this process until all the windows are covered.
Afterwards, we walk to my house and I unlock the hurricane fence. We cross my yard then go up the steps onto my porch and I unlock my deadbolt.
We enter my house and I then tell Roger, “My boards are in the utility room. So is my ladder.”
Roger takes the boards and places them in my yard. Then he gets the ladder. I open the pack of wingnuts I just purchased from Melinda’s and we get to work.
Just like on Mrs. Angela’s house, Roger secures the boards onto the bolts and I hand him the wingnuts. Soon enough, we are finished.
I look at my watch. It’s now “9:58.”
Roger then says, “It was nice meeting you, Johnny. Look out for my momma, because I have to go to work. The fleet needs to be in tip-top shape since a hurricane is coming right for this city.”
I tell Roger, “Before you go, I have a gift for you.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a Proto Black Hawk ratchet and socket set. I’m no longer working nor do I have a car, so I have no use for it. I think it would be perfect for you since you’re a mechanic.”
I go into my utility room, get the set and hand it to him.
“Wow, man! Thanks,” Roger says.
“It’s the least I could do for you helping me board up my house.”
“Well, I’ll always help you board up your house from now on since you gave me this awesome toolset.”
He then walks to Mrs. Angela’s house, kisses her goodbye, then gets in his truck and goes to work.
Mrs. Angela then walks to her car and says, “I’m going to the pharmacy at Melinda’s and get all my medications filled. Then I want to watch ‘The Young and the Restless’ when I get back.
“Be careful and let me know if you need anything,” I tell her.
I go inside. My house is almost totally dark since all the windows are covered. I turn on my T.V. adjust the antennas and scan the channels. One of the local news stations is doing a bulletin on Hurricane Alidore.
I sit on my sofa and watch.
They are saying how a Hurricane Warning will likely be issued for the city in a few hours. I’m sure glad I prepared quickly and got everything done. It is still sunny outside and the winds are still, but I know this must be the calm before the storm. I continue watching. After the news broadcast is over, The Price is Right comes on, already in progress. I go to my computer and begin to backup all of my important files to both a CD and two backup flash drives. Afterwards, I unplug my computer because I don’t want it to be ruined by a lightning strike from the storm.
I then open up the LED floating lantern and test it out. This lantern lights up the whole room nicely. I notice how it has waterproof storage space, so I place my flash drives, my old Mini Maglite and my Klein Electrician knife inside and close it up. Afterwards, I turn it off and loop my belt through the handle.
I sit for a little while on the sofa and suddenly realize I’m bored in this house with no computer.
So, I step outside on my porch when Mrs. Angela shouts from her yard, “Johnny, can you come over and fix my T.V. set?”
Hurriedly, I walk over and she says, “Why isn’t ‘The Young and the Restless’ playing? Am I on the wrong channel?”
I check her antennas and pull up the guide feature. It says CBS and that ‘The Young and the Restless’ is on at this hour.
I then realize what is wrong, so I tell her, “The news team interrupted your show because of Hurricane Alidore. They interrupted ‘The Price is Right’ as well.”
“That really irritates me,” She says, “I’ve been hearing about this storm for days now. Does the media have to cram it down our throats? I mean isn’t that what the weather radio is for, right? One of the few things I have left to look forward to is my stories.”
Suddenly, ‘The Young and the Restless’ comes back on.
Mrs. Angela says, “Thanks for helping me, Johnny.” She pauses, then asks, “Are you going to see Annabelle again today?”
“Yes, as soon as she gets off the bus.”
“Wonderful. Now, remember what I said about treating her right and making her feel special.”
I nod, then I go back home.
After sitting there for a few minutes, I get the urge to write something.
Since my computer is unplugged, I get a composition book and pen from my desk then walk out my front door, engaging the deadbolt, walk across my porch, down the steps, and out my yard. I lock the gate of my hurricane fence and head to the park. I think about Annabelle during my walk. When I enter the park, I sit on a bench and write a new story, with characters based on me and her. Now, I am getting to the good part.
I continue to write for hours until my phone rings. It’s Annabelle calling. Hurriedly, I answer.
“Oh, bae, I missed you so much.”
“I missed you too.”
“What are you doing right now?”
“I’m sitting in the park writing a new story.”
“I can’t wait to read it.”
“It’s about us; I just hope you’ll like it.”
“I just boarded the bus and I will be at the apartment complex in about forty-five minutes. I don’t have any homework this weekend and will probably be off Monday as well, so I’m taking my things and staying with you if that’s all right with you.”
“Of course it’s all right. In fact, it’s wonderful. How did your mom react this morning when you came to her apartment?”
“She was super mad and demanded to know where I was. I told her that it was none of her business and that I was eighteen and I didn’t have to answer to her anymore, especially since she abandoned me in the parking lot. She was speechless after that, so I got dressed and left for school.”
“I wish I could somehow make it better for you where that is concerned.”
“Just be there for me, that’s the best thing you can do.”
“Well of course.”
“I’m glad to have you, Johnny!”
“And I’m just as glad to have you, Annabelle!”
There is a sudden silence but then I ask her, “Were you able to turn in your paper?”
“Yes. Since Alidore is coming, the deadline was extended, but I’m getting extra points for turning it in on time.”
“It will be even more awesome now that I can graduate!”
We continue to talk and flirt on the phone until Annabelle says, “Why don’t you start making your way to the apartment complex, my bus is almost there.”
“Will do,” I reply.
“Then I guess I’ll see you there, bae.”
We then hang up. I close my composition book and start walking to the bus stop at the apartment complex.
I arrive just as the bus is pulling up. Annabelle steps off, then embraces me. We share a strong kiss.
She then says, “Wait out here while I get my things.”
“Will do, bae,” I reply.
She kisses me once more and says, “Be right back!” in a very sexy voice.
I wait with anticipation and look at my watch. The time is “3:24.”
I continue to wait as I hear shouting from several different people.
Finally, I see her walking to the bus stop with two bags in addition to her school bag and purse.
My watch now indicates that it is “3:36.”
I offer to carry them for her, to which she kisses me. Doing so hurts my back tremendously, but for her, it’s worth it. I collapse under the weight of her bags.
She helps me up and says, “I’m sorry, bae. I didn’t realize your back was damaged that badly.” Annabelle pauses then says, “I’ll carry them, you don’t have to.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I don’t want you to be hurt any worse, especially because of me.”
“I hate you seeing me like this. I’m afraid you’ll leave me now that you see how bad my disability is.”
“I won’t leave you because I see how wonderful you truly are. Your back may be in bad shape but you have such a good heart.”
I stand back up and Annabelle hugs me. She then kisses me. A motorist drives by and sounds his horn. Annabelle flips him off, then picks up her bags.
She holds my hand as we begin to walk.
We make it back to my house. I unlock the hurricane fence, then we walk across my yard, up my steps, onto my porch and I unlock the deadbolt. We then go to my bedroom and sit on the bed.
I remember what I bought for her and say, “I have a gift for you, bae. I hope you like it.”
“What is it,” She asks.
“A bright LED flashlight, pink in color,” I say, then hand her the blister packaging.
“Cool, I guess.”
“I needed a couple of flashlights since Hurricane Alidore is coming here, so I got me a blue one and you a pink one.”
“Well thank you bae, I like it,” She says with a hug and a kiss.
I then open the packaging on both of them, with a kitchen knife. Afterwards, I install the batteries in their carriages then I put mine in my pocket and Annabelle puts hers in her purse.
Annabelle then asks me, “Could you read me the story you were working on in the park?”
“Yes. I would like to do that.” I tell her, then retrieve my composition book. I start to read when I hear my weather radio go off in the kitchen. At the same time, Annabelle’s Samsung Galaxy Express 3 also sounds an alert. We get messages of a Hurricane Warning and that conditions will deteriorate within twenty-four hours.
Annabelle becomes very nervous and tears fill her eyes.
I hold her hand and say, “I cannot promise that everything will be okay, but I will do my damn well best to take care of you.”
“Thank you, Johnny. I’m so glad to have you.” She tells me with a kiss.
“And I’m just as glad to have you!” I tell her with a kiss in return.
“Why don’t I get dinner started? I’ll cook the last frozen bags of cooked white beans in my freezer, so I don’t lose them when the current goes out. It’s a Friday anyway and I always eat white beans on a Friday.”
Annabelle nods and smiles, then we walk into my kitchen.
I take several freezer bags of white beans and empty them into my big pot. Then I light my gas range and begin to heat up the food.
Annabelle and I stand in the kitchen, staring lovingly into each others’ eyes. We hold each other and share a passionate kiss. Soon we share multiple kisses.
There’s an awkward but blissful silence between us.
Soon the beans are done, so I get us each a bowl from the cabinet and serve us. I pour some store brand pancake syrup on our white beans to give them flavor and we eat happily.
Afterwards, we do the dishes and then go watch the T.V. All of the prime time programs are interrupted by reports about the approaching Hurricane Alidore.
We decide to watch Breaking Dawn, Part One and Part Two on DVD and fall asleep in each other’s arms on the sofa until the next morning…