It was too humid to stay indoors, so everyone on the street was outside on stoops, stairways, porches up and down the block. We talked, shared food that had to be eaten before it melted or spoiled. An Asian family across the street set up a cookfire in front of their building. You could hear every conversation on the street, it was that quiet.
Foot traffic streamed in and out of the street, folks trying to find some store where they could find beer or snack foods, mostly. The surprising thing was the amount of auto traffic as night set in. I couldn't believe the number of folks out driving around to look at the wreckage. Even though there were no lights on Union, except for the Methodist Hospital sign up on the top of the hill west of us, traffic flowed along anyway. Every once in a while, you could hear the fender bender. We marvelled at the curiousity, and stupidity, of people.
Our street was blocked by stout oak trees on both ends, but people kept turning into the street as though things were normal. We watched and waited for some fool to smack into one of the oaks, and though it was close a time or two, no luck. But the tourism trade was a real surprise.
Mosquitos were the worst of it. They bit and bit, attacked over and over all night. It was unrelenting. Because we needed to open windows to cool our apartments, everyone had stories and bumps to show the next day.
I finally went in just before midnight. I'd tried to interest the folks on the street with looking at the Milky Way, which many had likely never seen in their lives, but there were few takers. I still regret that today, as it was both beautiful and scary. It was something that could only be revealed by the city being so hammered down.
I listened to WREC again. They announced that they were switching to their Nashville affiliate after midnight so they could work on their tower or something. There was something really frightening about listening to far-off Nashville, where the story of our trauma didn't always rate a mention in the news breaks, on a battery-powered AM radio in a powerless apartment in a devastated city. It was at that moment when the enormity of our plight finally settled on me, like waking up to realise you really are stranded on that desert isle with a shattered ship.
My poor cat Bennie deserves a mention. When I first got home that morning she was firmly hidden in her "storm hole" under the kitchen counter. It was some time before she came out, and gingerly at that! That evening, she seemed to sense the strangeness as she mostly stayed inside, or near the front door. Her eyes stayed wide and her ears and whiskers were always at full extension. That night, she slept on the bed with me.