the short story project


Tommy Friend

Rock You Like A Hurricane

  I’m at the Flying J in 2005 a truck stop. I’m in the driver’s lounge and there are about 10 or 12 drivers in that room watching TV. I don’t remember what Flying j I was at but I know I was there most the day. We are watching CNN and they’re covering the wars. And all the drivers in the room are saying how we need to bring democracy to the Middle East and we need to help those people in that country. They need fresh water, they need jobs, they need food, those children need schools, they need good sewer systems and what we are doing in the Middle East is a great thing and they support our country 100%. And a watching on CNN a US soldier paying an Iraqi soldier with hundred dollar bills in the US soldier is probably putting a couple thousand and the guy’s hand. I’m thinking that’s way more money than I take home in a week. And I’m thinking we can use that money to help people here right at home. I’m also thinking that’s a lot of money to pay somebody to fight for their own country if they love the country so much why would they do it for free.

   And then CNN takes you to live coverage of a storm that hit the Gulf Coast name Katrina. This is less than a week after the storm. And CNN tells the watchers that some of this footage might be disturbing. And then they show this big major city underwater the levees have failed during the hurricane. They show neighborhoods underwater that remind me of my old neighborhood in Chicago. They show bodies floating in the water. Homes destroyed businesses destroyed and they show the football stadium full of thousands and thousands of people with nowhere to go no food no water. And then they show people on top of the roofs with signs that say please help us, please save us, God helps us, please. Now all the drivers in the room even my one co-driver. One guy stands up and says we shouldn’t give those people shit. Those people are so stupid they knew the storm was coming three days ago we shouldn’t give those people a penny. I said wait a minute those people are Americans. And then more of the drivers start to argue with me. Those people are so stupid not to get out of there they shouldn’t get any help. I said what they wanted to get out there and they couldn’t, what if they fell on hard times and we just lost their job, what if they car was broke down, what if they have no money, what if they had nowhere to go. But they all just replied fuck those people we shouldn’t do anything to help those people. And I’m listening to all these drivers in the room and I take a good look at every single one of them. Then I look at the big screen TV and I look at all the people that need help that are stranded in their football field and on top of houses with a sign saying please help us, please save us. And now it’s all so black and white.


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