I met some English guys at the pub in Louisville and in the pouring rain I drove two of them to Wick’s bar where were going to get pizza and party into the night.
I half-heartedly conversed with them as my concentration was required on the roads which were like rivers, and were it seemed to take an eternity to drive the two miles there.
My knuckles whitened and gripped Esmeralda’s steering wheel harder as a weather warning for tornadoes came over the radio. No sooner had we driven past the bar did I hear the tornado sirens wailing in the streets.
I quickly parked Esmeralda behind a bank and post office, not caring if it was a towaway zone and said to the guys “We have to get out now!” and jumped out. The two Poms didn’t understand my haste and ten metres from the car I screamed at them to get out of the car so I could lock it.
“These are tornado sirens, we have to get inside NOW!” I bellowed like a fishwife.
I was petrified. I had visions of the tornado raging through the water-filled streets sucking me up along and slamming me with debris.
I ran about 20 metres to the street corner and barely checking the traffic, crossed the streets at a sloshy run holding my hands up in a ‘stop’ command to any vehicles thinking of crossing my path. I didn’t stop until I got to the safety of the bar and then turned to see the guys still standing on the other side of the street, bewildered and looking lost.
We asked a couple in a booth eating pizza if they were tornado sirens in the street and they were so nonplussed as they said “yeah” with a shrug of their shoulders. I was still packing shit. My legs were jittery from the adrenaline that had pumped through them in a state of fear just moments before.
At the counter I asked a girl about the sirens, my voice incredulous as it asked “Is that a tornado warning? Is there a tornado?” My eyes were wide with fear and she laughed it off and said oh-so-coolly “Yeah”. I asked if we were going to be okay and her reply was a not particularly comforting “Yeah, if it gets really bad we have a big basement.”
The guys clearly weren’t afraid as they were more worried about getting drinks. We had to go through to another section where you got all the beer and pizza you wanted for $10.75. The tornado warning and sirens were still on my mind and I ended up having a big conversation with the bouncer checking IDs about it. He finally calmed my nerves as he gave me all the info I was after. Apparently the tornado had touched down in Louisville earlier that afternoon (while I was in the safety of my motel room) and had taken the roof off a sports stadium. He said the danger was over and the rains were just what follows. Only after this conversation did I start to feel less shaky.
I think, even though I wasn’t right in middle the storm, that this is the most scared I’ve ever been.