I had laid down to bed at 11PM and still found my self stirring an hour later. The rain was so loud and violent that I could feel it in my chest, creating a vicious cerebral cycle. I knew that I needed sleep to keep fresh for the following day, but the more I turned over, the more nervous I became about not getting a good night’s rest; this, of course, made it that much harder to fall asleep.
“TAK! TAK! TAK!” What the… “TAK! TAK! TAK!” Aw, no. How am I going to get to sleep now? There were frantic voices just outside my window speaking in Kinyarwanda only to be interrupted by a hammering sound splitting the air and forcing my head to cower forward as if someone was uninvitingly patting the crown. “TAK!…hamajukura bujando kumra mukozi…TAK!” I slammed my eyes and ears shut determined to drown out the ruckus and drift off to sleep.
“Tat, tat, tat…Mike?” I opened my eyes just enough to let the blue haze of night enter and realize that I had actually fallen asleep. I hope no one is calling me. I faded back to sleep.
“TAT, TAT, TAT…Mike!” The pain of my thoughts forced me to let out a huge sigh into the depths of my pillow. If only it had been a ghost or an angel that I could have ignored, but this time I knew someone was entering my room after having delivered a courtesy knock.
“Mike, Mike. Sorry…you awake?” It was Caroline. With a helplessness in her voice, her head peeked around the corner looking wet and disheveled.
“Yeah…” I didn’t want to say too much. I was trying to keep the growing feeling of irritation from reaching my voice.
“My room is flooded. There is water everywhere…I just need your squeegee.”
“What? Your room is wet? How much water?”
“Two inches! And there is mud everywhere. I left my computer on the ground and now it’s not working. Rob fell asleep with his on the ground, too. But his computer is ok.”
Aw, no. You have to be kidding me. I hope she has it backed up…ahhh, probably not.
“Ok, I am coming. Wait a sec.” I threw the covers back and began pushing myself out of bed.
“No, no….just keep sleeping. No, really keep sleeping.”
Of course. A damsel in distress comes barreling into your room telling you that her entire room is flooded with thick red mud and you’re supposed to stay in bed!?!…
“We’re pushin’ the water out of the house.”
“OK, my squeegee is in the shower.”
“Yeah,…ok….I see it…Don’t worry Mike, just keep sleeping.”
“If you need me, let me know.”
Painful. All I want is a good night’s rest. How am I going to drive hard at work tomorrow if I’m so sleepy that I can’t think straight?
Sure, my team is potentially in need, but really? Do they really need me that much? It’s just water after all and Caroline said I could stay in bed.
My body thumps back into the bed from the one arm, prop-up technique I used while listening to Caroline. I know that they need my help.
Hell, let’s go.
I jump out of bed with my shorts and t-shirt already on. Slipping my feet into my Brazil-green Havaianas, I head out of the main house and dart across the driveway to the guesthouse ready to wage war against the water and mud.
As I reach the driveway separating the main house from the guesthouse, the rain beats down into my white t-shirt with large, voluptuous drops soaking my shoulders. Halfway across the driveway my feet plunged deep underwater. I can feel the current’s flow moving across my feet from right-to-left. The water is headed downhill towards the guesthouse and still trickling in through the front door.
Once inside, I hear the swishing of water in rhythmic succession. “Woosh…woosh…woosh.” The squeegees are at work.
I peer into the rooms of my three teammates. There is standing water covering the floors of the entire guesthouse with a half-inch of layer mud just beneath. The deep rustic colored mud fans out like the silt from a satellite photo of the Mississippi delta. Caroline and Rob are hard at work pushing large squeegees across the floor towards drains, and the drains furiously gulp the rusty waves lapping into their mouths.
There are no more squeegees. How can I help? I grab Caroline’s camera from her nightstand. Documentation!
Caroline belts out, “I think it’s out of battery.”
I ignore the comment and begin firing away. “FLASH” Caroline hard at work surrounded by water.
I lean my head and the camera into Rob’s room. “FLASH” Another photo documenting the occasion.
I whirl around 180 degrees and walk into Chadd’s room. His lights are out, but even in the darkness I can see the silhouette of his bulging sheets. Amazing. He’s still asleep. I aim the camera at him. “FLASH” Got him. Asleep in the middle of a disaster. Wish I could sleep like that. I turn around to survey more of the damage. “Click” Damn, out of battery.
“Caroline. You OK? How about I take that?”
I place her camera back on the bed stand and grab the squeegee from Caroline’s hand without much resistance. She leaves her room in silence. Despite her best efforts, the room is still covered in think mud and water. I push down on the handle of the squeegee and drive the blade through the water leaving behind a small path of white tile in the midst of a red river.
It would be another 45 minutes of work before I would return to my room and fall fast asleep. For the second time in a week, we had dodged a bullet….well almost. We’re still waiting for the resurrection of Caroline’s computer.