During last year’s flood I remember sitting in my living room at about midnight, the night of the storms. I was content listening to the pounding rain and brief flashes of light the crept through my windows and around my closed curtains.
I was steadfast in what had been the center of my attention most of the night, the TV and an old black and white note book I had been scribbling in off and on, for the last few months. My brother and I, being the lonely creative creatures we sometimes are, had been taking turns developing some random romantic fantasy about a traveling mystic circus clown in the early 1920’s while simultaneous defending the human race from alien invasion on my X-Box (video game system) against opponents probably sitting in their bedrooms in California or Japan.
My brother had pulled a late night the evening before and succumb to the comforts of my leather recliner about an hour earlier. The lullaby of the failing rain was beginning to make me feel drowsy; I always found the sound relaxing.
I snapped the note book closed, leaving our depressed hero on the verge of being burned as a witch and ended the intergalactic war with a flick of the remote. Having been rather secluded from the world for several hours I suddenly realize it had been raining hard for an unusually long time. I walk to my living room windows. They offered me a good view of my neighbors large backyard and farther on, the little league baseball fields. Not far from the Oxford High School.
My mind went blank and the weight of the slightest thought could have floored me. From right below my window, lapping at my skirting, at least a foot and a half deep and streching all the way to the fields, was nothing but water.
“Hmm,” I thought quietly to myself, “I wonder if I’ll have to go to work tomorrow?” I laughed at my own quiet joke in the face of such remarkable happenstance and woke my brother up.
I jolted him once or twice on my way to the front door, leaving the curtains open for him to glance out, figuring few words could justify. “Just look out the window, we need a bigger boat,” I had said. I knew my brother understood my ‘Jaws’ movie remark and wouldn’t be able to resist knowing what the hell I was talking about.
My front porch had now become my front dock. The water had also reached across my inclined driveway and was at the bottom edge of my car door.
“Holy crap, hey man there is a lot of water out here,” said my brother from inside, mostly to himself, “Hey, do you think you’ll have to go to work tomorrow?” I laughed again.
I went back inside and slipped into a pair of running short and sandals, then swam back outside to move my car.
The porch light lit the area and its reflection shimmered off the water completely around my small deck, making me feel like I was living in a boat house somewhere off the Mississippi.
“Want to go for a walk?” I asked my brother, “I want to check things out.”
“You mean for a swim, yeah this is awesome, let’s got see if the bridge is still kicking.”
We trudge our way through down town Oxford, visiting the bridge. Water was just barely slapping the bottom of it, with occasional waves splashing on over. Route 12 in the village had been claimed by the Chenango River and my brother made some remark about calling it the Erie Canal for the rest of the night.
We walked to the baseball fields and saw that they were so deep in water not even we would try to venture into them. The heart of the river itself was a terrifying thing to witness. So much water fighting so viciously to move faster and faster. We had thrown some pieces of debris into the surge. It was like they fell straight through a cloud or dissapeared into some other dimension, for as soon as any object hit the surface it was so quickly devoured by the currents it literally vanished from sight.
Apart from the economic devastation and threat to human life, it was actually an incredible thing to witness. The rain never stopped and the land continued to shrink. We barely saw a soul in our two and a half hour journey through the village at 1:30 in the morning.
The next day I got up at 5:30 a.m. and got ready for work, the first thing I thought when I woke up was, ‘I can’t hear the rain.’ I had to wear my shorts and sandals in order to wade through the waist high moat protecting my house. I reached my car, parked up above, on a small incline and headed to work.
I almost made it to the George Town road intersection when a road block and emergency vehicle halted my advance. A man walked over and said “Where’re you headed?” “I work at OSG, I’m on my way to work.” The man laughed. “It’s a state of emergency, the roads are closed.” I looked out across the road to see a vast blanket of water covering it and I felt like a kid about to hear his school get closed on the radio. “I’ll guess I head home and enjoy my day off then,” the man then replied, “Sure wish I could say the same.”