Hurricane Dean came to life as a tropical wave and became Tropical Depression Five halfway between Cape Verde and the Lesser Antilles. The storm didn’t stay small for long. The next day it intensified into Tropical Storm Dean. It panted and puffed and spun counterclockwise and became a hurricane during the next two days. It was more of a cyclone, but nobody wanted to tell that to Dean, and nobody did. Hurricanes are hotheads and do whatever it is they want to do. When they blow their stacks, all bets are off.
The palmetto trees shrugged. They had been there a long time and seen everything. They can sniff out hurricanes a mile away. Sometimes they were the only things left standing after one of the storms demolished the Caribbean. Weathermen love broadcasting their TV reports with palm trees bending in the wind behind them.
The storm churned north, sideswiping Bermuda with 110 MPH winds before turning northeastward. Hurricane Dean thought Bermuda was in the Caribbean, its familiar stomping grounds, even though it isn’t. It’s nearby enough but sits just outside where hurricanes are at their most powerful. It is well protected from storm surges thanks to its reefs. Almost all the buildings and roofs on the island are built of concrete, just in case, to withstand wacko atmospheric pressures and high winds.
When the hurricane finally made landfall in southern Newfoundland it turned itself inside out and became fierce winds and heavy rainfall. The storm bypassed most of Atlantic Canada, except for Prince Edward Island, where a lashing rain fell for two days. Everybody on the island who could stay home stayed home, making sure their doors and windows were shut tight and secure. All the foxes, rabbits, squirrels, weasels, muskrats, and skunks went to ground.
The only skunk who didn’t duck and cover was Monk Kennedy. He didn’t know anything about hurricanes and didn’t care, to boot. If somebody had told him a hurricane was named Dean, he would have laughed in his face. The only Dean he had any use for was James Dean, who was long gone, just like he was soon going to be, gone down to New Orleans, never to come back to Prince Edward Island. He was sick and tired and had gotten scared of the place, nothing to do and always looking over his shoulder. It gave him the creeps.
What scared him more than anything was the ocean on every side of the island. He was deadly scared of drowning. He never went to any of the island’s beaches and never set foot into any surf. There was nowhere to go but down. He knew nobody ever drowned by falling into water. They drowned by staying there but knowing that didn’t make it better. Thinking about drowning was blood-curdling. Sometimes he couldn’t stop thinking about it. It drove him crazy.
When he got to the United States, he would never step foot on an island again. He would stay safe and sound on the mainland in New Orleans. He might drown in strong drink, but water wasn’t going to get him, no sir, no way. The Big easy was on the mainland doing the mainline.
What Monk didn’t know was going to get him messed up, one way or the other, sooner than later. No light bulbs were blinking on above his head and lighting his way. Sooner might be Hurricane Dean. It might be the Montreal bean counters and their hitmen after that. If he made it to New Orleans it might be a bogeyman the likes of which he had never seen. He was an open target on his red motorcycle.