I've been real upset at how it took so long for the people in New Orleans who were flooded out by hurricane Katrina then Rita to get taken care of. So I decided to write this story “Escaping Katrina”. See chapter 1 for a longer introduction that explains more about why I decided to write this story. While it is loosely based on these real incidents that I saw on TV in my AP U.S. History class and read in the newspaper, it is a work of fiction. The events I depict did not happen, and the people are completely the product of my imagination.
This story is Copyright © 2005 by Colin Kelly. It cannot be reproduced without express written consent. The Nifty Archives has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.
This story contains scenes of explicit consensual sex between minors. If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don’t want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don't want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren't supposed to be here, be careful and don’t get caught!
She turned to Lincoln. “Well, Mr. Carter, it depends on whether you’re going to take custody of Cody in Texas or wait until you move back to Louisiana or to somewhere else. You should decide on where you’re going to settle, because if you or anyone else in your family are appointed his guardian or foster parents you’ll have to stay in that state. States are very possessive about turning children over to someone for guardianship or foster parenthood.”
Lincoln nodded. “We’re gonna be meeting together to decide what to do. I don’t think we can move back to New Orleans, much as I want to, ‘cause it just ain’t gonna be fixed up for folks to live in for some long time in my opinion. And thanks for the advise, ma’am.”
Kendal, Lincoln, Patrice, and I walked back to my cot.
“You sure you gonna be OK, Cody? You need me to stay with you for a while?”
“Thanks, Patrice, but I think having Kendal here is enough. I just want to lie down and think for a while.”
“Cody Williams, you know we’re here for you and we’re willin’ to take you with us wherever we go, like you were our son. Jus’ remember that, OK?”
“Thanks, Lincoln. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”
I could feel a tear running down my cheek, and Kendal wiping it away with his finger. “Don’t cry, Cody. If you cry any more I’ll start crying, then mama will start crying, and what a mess that’ll be!”
I grinned a little. It felt good, despite how sad I felt about Granny. Kendal grinned, and Patrice, maybe because she’d rather cry than anything, shook her head and grabbed Lincoln and dragged him away toward the the rest of the family’s cots.
I lay down on my cot. “Your mother is strange, Kendal. Nice strange, but strange. I’ve never seen anyone who cries so much.”
“Yeah, that’s for sure! You OK, Cody? Can I get you anything? You need to cry it out some more?”
“No, I’m OK. I just need to think for a while. I’d like you to stay here, though, in Lincoln’s cot, your cot now, if you don’t mind.”
“I sure don’t mind at all. I just want to say one thing to you Cody, and you don’t have to say anything back to me. Cody, I love you.”
With that, Kendal laid down on his cot. I looked over at him and smiled. “Kendal, I love you too.” I looked up at the ceiling of the Astrodome, hundreds of feet above us. I thought about Granny, and my parents. That had been my entire family, my entire background. And now there was only me left. I took a deep breath, and thought about Lincoln and Kendal and their family. They offered to be my family. Amazing! They are black Americans, I’m a white American. They were forced out of their homes and had nothing like most of the thousands of other people in the Astrodome. But what was important to them was family, and they were offering to let me join them and become a member of their family. Tears were flowing down my cheeks, but I wasn’t crying because I was sad, it was because I was happy. Happy and amazed that these fantastic people were willing to take me in. They didn’t know me, anything about me, or even if I was a good kid or not. But they seemed to make up their minds about me real quick.
Then there was the boy on the next cot. Kendal. I realized that I did, in fact, love Kendal. And he said he loved me. And we had made love, together, just a little while after we first met. Amazing! I turned onto my side so I was looking over at him. He was facing me, smiling. I reached across the narrow gap between our cots and took his hand. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up it was early morning, very early. The Astrodome was quiet. I was still lying on my side, holding Kendal’s hand across that gap between our cots. He was asleep. He looked so sweet, and innocent, and vulnerable. I felt tears on my cheeks. I knew in my heart that I loved this boy. My emotions were so strong, stronger than any I had ever felt in my life. I was thinking things that I had never thought before. So, this was what love was like. It was wonderful and frightening all at once. Loving Kendal was wonderful. But it meant that I was now, in some way, responsible for him, for his happiness, and that was frightening. With these thoughts I fell back into a deep sleep. But these thoughts, in that minute or two that I was awake, would remain with me for the rest of my life.
I felt my hand being squeezed. I opened my eyes, and looked across at Kendal.
“Wake up, sleepyhead!”
I smiled. “OK. Kendal?”
“I love you. I really, really, love you. ”
He looked at me for what seemed a very long time. “I love you too, Cody. So much it almost hurts. ”
We got up. I really needed a shower. I should have taken one yesterday when Lincoln and I arrived at the Astrodome, but I was busy doing other things!
“Where should I go to shower?”
“Grab some clean clothes, and I’ll show you.”
Kendal led me to the one of the men’s showers. It was the one next to his secret place. The shower room had towels, soap, and shampoo. It felt so great taking a shower. I thought about it. It had been over a week since the last time I’d taken a shower. We finished, and went over to the sink area where they had toiletry kits with a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, and a comb. I was able to brush my teeth. It had been almost as long since I’d done that, and I felt embarrassed that I’d kissed Kendal ‘cause my breath must have been pretty rank. I put on some deodorant, clean clothes, and combed my hair.
Kendal was looking at me. “God, you are so beautiful!”
“It’s just because I’m clean.”
A man at one of the other sinks looked over at us. I expected him to scowl at us, but he smiled instead.
Kendal and I took our toiletry kits and dirty clothes back to our lockers, then went looking for Kendal’s family. They were in the commissary where we had eaten dinner.
“Mornin’, boys! My, don’t you look nice, Cody!”
I smiled at Patrice. “Thanks, it feels real good to be clean.”
“Well, you two go get yourselves some breakfast. Then we’ll tell you what we’re going to be doing today.”
Breakfast was good. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, and waffles with syrup. Kendal and I asked for double helpings of everything and got them, with a smile and an “Enjoy your breakfasts, boys” from the servers. Sometimes there’s advantages to being a kid!
When we were finished eating, Kendal turned to his folks and asked “OK, what are we doing today?”
Arnold answered him. "Your mama’s got one of her premonitions. Last couple of nights she dreamed one of her dreams again. The one about a hurricane in New Orleans. To me and your grandpa that means there’s another hurricane comin’ and comin’ soon. We’ve talked it over and decided we’re going to California to stay with your cousin Evan and his family. We called them this morning, and even though we woke ‘em up ‘cause we forgot about the time difference, they said they had just fixed up that small apartment house they bought and there's apartments to put us all up. And Evan will help us find jobs."
Kendal looked shocked. “You mean we’re moving away from New Orleans? That we’re not going back?”
Lincoln answered those questions. “Yeah, Kendal. That what we mean. It’s gonna take years to clean up and rebuild New Orleans, and we can’t afford to wait for that. Maybe some day we’ll be able to go back, but for now we’re gonna become Californians.”
“But where will I go to school? And what about my friends, will I ever see them again?”
“You’ll go to school in California. And I’m sure you’ll be able to locate your friends, but it may take some time ‘cause they’re in the same situation we’re in.”
“But daddy, what about Cody?”
“Cody’s comin’ with us.” Arnold turned to me. “If he wants to. Do you want to come with us, Cody?”
“Yes, sir, I do. Thank you. But what about your houses in New Orleans? ”
"We all rent, I've got a rented house, and Stanley and Lincoln have apartments. We're not leaving much, just furniture and some clothes. All that can be replaced. That sound OK to everybody?"
Everyone said "Yes!" and nodded their heads in agreement.
“Well, then, it’s settled! Let’s get packed. I want to get going in 30 minutes so everybody get the car loaded.”
It took us only 20 minutes to gather all of our stuff and meet at the desk where we’d checked in. That had been only yesterday, but to me it seemed to have been days ago. We checked out, and Arnold told them where we were going. The lady at the desk told us she hoped that everything worked out for us.
We got into Arnold’s SUV. It was a little crowded, but comfortable enough. After we got started I whispered to Kendal.
“What did your father mean when he said your mother had a premonition?”
“Daddy thinks my mama’s psychic. She can feel storms, hurricanes, when they are on their way. I don’t think it’s psychic. I think she’s sensitive to changes in the weather, like high and low pressure.”
“And she thinks there’s gonna be another hurricane?”
“Yes. That’s why daddy and grandpa and Stanley want to get out now and go to California.”
“Where in California?”
“Concord. That’s a town near San Francisco. Our cousin Evan lives there, and he bought that small apartment house that he just finished refurbishing. Daddy, what's Evan's apartment building like?"
"Well, course I haven't seen it, but there's 6 two bedroom apartments and 3 three bedroom apartments. It was a mess when he bought it, and no one was living there, and he got it really cheap. He and Barbara spent a lotta time fixing it up, did lots of the work themselves. And now it's all finished. Since no one living in it yet, we can move right in. We decided your mama and I and your brothers will have one of the three bedroom apartments, there's a two bedroom apartment for Stanley and his family, and a three bedroom one for Lionel and you and Cody. Evan said you’ll be able to go to school near the apartment. As soon as we get jobs we're gonna start paying Evan for the rent. He said Stanley and me should be able to get jobs in the refineries out there right away."
"Gee, Cody, that sounds great. We'll have our own apartment with grandpa, and go to school, and see new places, and be together, and, and, and…” He’d run out of things to say.
I looked at Kendal and smiled. “That sounds fantastic! Amazing! Brilliant!” I leaned back and looked out the window. “Arnold, what way are you going to drive to California?”
“We’re headin’ west to El Paso then Tucson, and L.A., then north to Concord. It’ll take us about five days. We're gonna stop for the night in Sonora, that’s between here and El Paso, then we'll stop in El Paso, and Tucson, and L.A., then on in to Concord. I already made reservations with Travelodge for three rooms in each place.”
I felt like I had to pull my own weight. “Arnold, I want to help out with the rooms and food and gas. And the rent for the apartment. I’ve some money.”
“Now, Cody, I won’t hear nothing about you giving me any money. You’re part of our family now. I'm not charging Kendal or the young 'uns any rent, and you neither. Money is just no problem. Stanley and I work for refineries, we both have high pay jobs. I expect we’ll be able to get good jobs in California. Evan says there’s lots of refineries near Concord. Now, you OK with that, Cody?”
“I guess so. Just seems that you’re doing so much for me, and…” I started to cry.
Kendal hugged me, and whispered “Don’t cry, Cody.”
“I can’t help it. You’re all so nice to me and without really knowing me. Kendal, without you and your family I don’t know what I’d do!”
Patrice turned around from the front seat. “We really do know you, Cody. You’re a nice, sweet boy. Kendal loves you. Lincoln has taken a real likin' to you, and the rest of us like you too. That’s plenty enough for us to know. You’re part of our family now. You just stop worrying yourself, hear?”
Once again I was overwhelmed by Kendal’s family. I was part of this family. I dried my tears, grinned at Kendal, and leaned back and closed my eyes and went to sleep.
I woke up with Kendal shaking my shoulder. “Wake up, Cody. Time for lunch.” I looked up, then saw we were stopped in front of a Subway sandwich shop. We piled out and had sandwiches and sodas for lunch, then after getting gas continued on our way. We stopped at a Travelodge motel in Sonora, Texas for the night, and went to a barbeque place for dinner. We shared a room with Lincoln, he took one bed and Kendal and I took the other. Kendal and I didn’t do anything more than feeling each other because of Lincoln being in the room, and we were both tired. I learned that traveling is tiring. We got up in the morning and showered, and went to a cafe for breakfast. This became our days and nights. Different places for eating, stopping for gas, stopping at rest areas, and always a Travelodge for sleeping. I decided that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and until we got near Los Angeles, California too, were all dry and sort of mostly boring to look at. L.A. was interesting, a huge city that seemed to go on forever and forever. But we didn’t stop longer than one night. Everyone, including me, was eager to get to our new home. The drive from L.A., once we got out of the city, went into mountains and passed 7 Flags Magic Mountain, a huge amusement park. Maybe some day we’d be able to come back here! After an hour or so we went through some other cities then just mountains, then we drove down a long hill and were out of the mountains into a flat valley that seemed to go on forever in every direction. We were driving by huge farms for hours. That’s when we heard about hurricane Rita on the radio. Patrice just kept shaking her head and saying “I knew it, I knew it!”
About 4 hours later we got to where it was cities again. Stanley said we were in Livermore, southeast of San Francisco. Kendal said he didn't like liver, specially if there was more of it, and everyone laughed at Kendal's joke about that city's name. In about another hour we were pulling into the driveway at Arnold’s cousin’s house in Concord.
“OK, everyone out! We’re at Evan’s house!” Arnold honked the horn, and a man, Evan I assumed, came out and smiled at us, followed by a woman, two boys, and a girl. They helped us out of the car, and led us into the house. It was a really nice house, two stories, with a nice front yard with grass and some trees and lots of flowers.
Everyone was introduced around, I think mainly for Kendal and me ‘cause we didn’t know any of his cousins. Barbara was Evan’s wife and she said they were barbequing steaks for dinner, and asked each of us how we wanted ours cooked.
One of their boys, Larry, was 14 and said that he had just started his freshman year in high school. He took Kendal and me into his bedroom, and told his 10 year old brother Dana to take a hike when he tried to join us, and closed the door.
“Sorry about that, I figured you’d want to chill and not have a hyper 10 year old hangin' with us. Dana’s really all right, just that he kinda takes over when he’s around.” He looked at Kendal, then at me, “You two don’t look like you’re related!” and burst into laughter.
I grinned, then told my story, with some additions by Kendal about how his family had unofficially adopted me.
Larry looked at me. “Shit, man, what a suck of a life you’ve had. You’re here now, and sounds like you’re going to be taken good care of by Kendal and his family. You’ll be going to Clayton Valley high, same as me. It’s a great school, I’m sure you’ll like it. But the football team sucks this year. They were good last year, got into the playoffs. I don't know what happened this year, I guess a lot of seniors graduated. When you move in to the apartment it’s only a few blocks to school. I have to take the bus, it’s too far to walk from here and I don’t like riding my bike.” We continued talking about the high school, what the kids were like, what subjects we liked and didn't like, what music and movies and TV shows we liked, what sports we played, all the normal stuff teen boys talk about.
Barbara called us to dinner. We ate in their back yard. It was huge! The gas grill barbeque was the biggest I’d ever seen, and there was even a sink and a refrigerator. They had a huge table with benches that had room for all 15 of us. The steaks were great, and they had baked potatoes and corn on the cob and salad.
During dinner Evan and Barbara talked about the apartment building. They had completely remodeled it, and they had bought furniture and bedding and towels and everything we'd need so we could move right in to our three apartments. The apartment building was near stores and the high school, and there were two big shopping centers not too far away. There were bus lines and BART, which they said is the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway system, for getting around.
After dinner we were all tired. Arnold said it was time to get to our apartments and get some sleep, our first time sleeping in our new home.
In our new home. My new home, too. As I lay in our new bed with Kendal, in my our bedroom, I thought about how my life had been changed, about my folks, about Granny, about Lincoln and escaping from the awful destruction caused by hurricane Katrina, about the new hurricane Rita that seemed to be moving toward Houston and maybe New Orleans again, about Kendal and his family, and about moving to California. I was starting a new life, a new school, new friends. And most important of all, I had Kendal, sleeping in the bed next to me, my new love. As I fell asleep I was smiling, thinking about my new future, and how great it was going to be.
I hope you liked this story, and if you have comments, suggestions, or questions, email me!