I couldn’t finish yesterday, I was too exhausted. I’ll try and get it all written tonight but no promises.
Watching the violence play out before me on the river I was strangely calm. There was no one to run screaming and crying to even if I had been up to having a hissy fit. Cal was wherever Cal was and I was determined that I was not going to be a burden any longer; I realized I’d been mooching on his strength since before Daniel’s final break from reality. In the back of my mind was also worry for Dorrie and her family who lived on the other side of the river near Tamiami Trail, not all that far from where I thought the fires were. But I knew there was nothing I could do about it. Feena came first; I couldn’t just hop in the car and run and check on them and even if I could I wasn’t sure what I would have to offer when I got there.
Which left me wondering what I could do. The answer was a whole lotta nothing.
Before carefully climbing down from the widow’s walk I checked as far up and down my side of the river as I could see; nothing was obviously out of place. The gated community that it right where the river meets the bay was completely dark and silent. I wondered if I had some moral responsibility to run over there and make them aware of what was going on but then I thought of how they’d treated me in the last few months and decided to wait to stick my neck out in that direction. I climbed down and locked the hatch but left the ladder in place in case I needed to go up there again.
It was pitch dark in the house so I had to be careful going down to the kitchen. Still no lights but the ignition worked on the stove but I knew that was because it was battery operated. I put some water on to boil and dumped it in with some rice … cooked and dried by myself on my dehydrator … a few raisins and some other dried fruit and spices. It would make an easy breakfast for both Feena and I. What hot water I didn’t use for the rice I split between two other thermoses. In one thermos I added dried soup mix; that would be our lunch. The third thermos I left plain water just in case I needed it later.
I started going over my chores for the day to see what I could get done in the dark to keep myself busy and productive. A sudden thought struck me and I shook my head. I should have put a tarp down under the plants in the Florida room. The flooring was poured and polished terrazzo, you couldn’t hurt it with much less than a jack hammer and dynamite, but clean-up was still going to be difficult where I watered and cared for the plants and bushes in there. I knew they also needed light which would mean opening all of the shudders for a few hours minimum.
I began making a mental list of the other things I would need to do that day, almost ignoring what I had seen from the widow’s walk. Laundry was absolutely going to be necessary; not a large amount but certainly under things for both Feena and I. I wanted to continue working on the idea of hiding food stuffs. And I had thought of a few more items that I wanted to lock into the butler’s pantry like all of my photo albums and Cal’s jewelry box … though I don’t think they call them jewelry boxes for men … that held his father’s ring and his grandfather’s pocket watch as well as the box that held his grandmother’s brooch collection. I was pretty sure he had photos in his room as well that should be put away just in case.
The rest of that day proceeded pretty much like the one before it had with me puttering around trying to be constructive to convince myself I wasn’t helpless. Being outside was more difficult but I did what I had to by wearing a dampened strip of muslin across my nose and mouth though that didn’t keep my eyes from burning and watering. By early afternoon I was exhausted and there wasn’t anything else I could do.
The whole downstairs of the house smelled of the smoke that still wafted across the river though I think most of the actual flames had died out by then. Feena rubbed at her eyes and coughed when she was downstairs so I took her upstairs and let her be in her “play room” which kept her contented for a while. The toys in it were simple … rag dolls, plastic blocks, patchwork books, and a few other homemade odds and ends. While she played I went up to the widow’s walk to see what I could see.
I didn’t see anything unusual at first and was nearly in a doze as the sudden inactivity let my fatigue catch up with me. Then I heard a boat, this one bigger than even the big boat from the early morning hours. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first. It looked like there were two distinct groups of people on the deck. The ones in charge had one kind of uniform on … in hindsight I’m fairly certain they were coast guard … and the other group was wearing sheriff’s uniforms but not Hillsborough County. I think they were Manatee County uniforms as the shirt was the same green as the pants; Hillsborough County wears white shirts with green pants.
But I knew something was off. The LEOs were crowded into a small place on the deck, surrounded by men from the other group. Then I noticed that the LEOs didn’t have guns while the other men most certainly did. A few moments later all of the spit in my mouth dried up. The LEOs were made to kneel on the deck with the hands behind their heads facing the water. One of the first group started questioning them and even from my vantage distance I could tell it was intense and angry.
Then one of the LEOs tried to jump overboard and all heck broke loose. The rest of the LEOs didn’t stand a chance and were executed as they too tried to escape.
I was barely breathing, unable to believe what I had seen. I put down the binoculars and rubbed my eyes. Plus I didn’t want the men on the boat to see a flash of reflection from the lenses. I didn’t want them coming to investigate.
Soon a couple of smaller boats arrived and started patrolling; or at least it looked like they were patrolling. The large boat remained anchored where it was but I’m not sure what they were doing beyond stacking the bodies. After about an hour one of the patrolling boats came back to the bigger one and a body was transferred and I realized they had been looking for the body of the man that had gone overboard. I never heard a shot so maybe he drowned or was shot before he went overboard, who knows. Soon all three boats left.