So you can read my books

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.”
- Frederick Langbridge

There are epic events in each person's life. What we make of them determines what we make of our lives.

Shelley F. Blatt

has awarded me THE STYLISH BLOGGER award where I have to reveal 7 things about myself.

Sigh. Considering how long-winded I get, this may not be easy. Let me do it like Jeopardy, couching my response in the form of questions.


Five years ago, Hurricane Rita was a category 5 hurricane. I spent the morning running rare blood to scrambling hospitals.

I drove back home to wolf down a hurried lunch. A mandatory evacuation was issued. I went downstairs.

Someone had siphoned the gas from my car. All the gas stations were shut down. I was stranded in the path of a killer hurricane.


Or not so alone.

Freddie, my supervisor, called checking in on me. He offered me a ride in his car as he drove beside his wife's car containing his two children.

So with the clothes on my back, my laptop on my lap, and Gypsy in a carrier, I rode with my friend into the darkness.

The highways were shut down. We drove the back roads, the cypress trees bending down over us in the blackness as if listening to our whispered voices. Freddie's eyes were hollow.

As we passed his wife's car, I saw she was frantic, on the verge of panic.

I winked at the pale faces of Freddie's two children, Allison and Abigail, pulled Gypsy out of the carrier, and picked up her front paw as if she were waving at the two girls.

They giggled. And the grip of panic on their mother seemed to break.

She waved back and gave a valiant smile with a thumb's up salute.

Freddie studied me for a moment and said, "Dude, you're like Job."

"How so?"

"I mean you got your gas siphoned out of your car just when you needed it most."

"I bet a lot of people did."

"Yeah, but if Rita hits Lake Charles, this will be the second time you'll have lost everything.

You lost it all when your home burned. And before that you closed your business. Your mother died before that. And before that your fiancee died. And your childhood best friend died before Kathy. Damn, it's like you're Job."

I nodded, smiling sadly, "As I recall Job ended up pretty well."

"You've got a strange way at looking at life, dude."

"You're not the first to say that."

We made it to Baton Rouge where I worked delivering rare blood to all the hospitals reeling under the impact of Katrina.

I drove to the hospital of Metairie, the first suburb of New Orleans. (It is a French term for a tenant farm.)

I saw people who had only thought they knew what having nothing meant. I smelled the stench of decaying human flesh on the breath of a too silent city.

I saw young boys in uniform trying to be men under impossible conditions.

Late at night I typed the first draft of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, alone in the spacious suite afforded me by the blood center for which I worked.

It had been leased for the board of directors to oversee the new center in Baton Rouge.

So for two months I slept in a prince's suite. Gypsy was, for once, satisfied with her accommodations, she being a princess and all.

I barely saw the suite. I was always driving it seemed --

down long, unfamiliar roads to strange hospitals protected by hollow-eyed young boys with automatic weapons and dry mouths.

Finally, the blood couriers were allowed back to our devastated city.

It was like something from a post-apocalyptic movie. But these ruined streets and gutted homes I knew. Our city has never truly recovered. But my friends are a hardy bunch.

Me? I just fake it.

And there you have at least 7 things you didn't know about me. And I've answered only one question. Like Freddie says, I tend to talk a lot.

But he smiles good-naturedly when he says it.

Oh, and that time in Baton Rouge was the first time I saw my soon-to-be Viking friend, Eric.

There is a tune by Muse that fits with Fallen in Tara's HOT KISS BLOGFEST :


  1. Congrats on your award, it is very well deserved. I enjoyed reading your story, interesting indeed!

  2. Hi Roland .. yes congratulations on the award .. the Stylish part should go to Gypsy ... and I loved the tale .. but it must have been a very busy time .. and very frightening for many many people whose lives would be changed forever. Thank you for sharing with us - Hilary

  3. Poetic Justice : It was certainly interesting living it! Thanks for the congrats on the award.

    Hilary : Thank you. Gypsy agrees with you. She says she is Stylish Personified! Humble princess that she is! And it was a very frightening time. Echoes of those times replay the beginning of each hurricane season here.

  4. Wow, what a life you have led! I admire your courage in the face of adversity! Thank you for sharing!

    P.S.: Love your quote from Chief White Eagle!

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  6. YOURS.... is a LIFETIME MOVIE of the Week.

    Need I say more?


  7. J.C. : It wasn't courage really. All of us here in my city found ourselves, like Michael says, in our own LIFETIME movie. It was up to us to decide whether we would play our part with honor and compassion, whether we would be the hero of the villain of the piece. Wasn't Chief White Eagle a wise man? Your guest blog spot was great, Roland

    Michael : Sadly, there were no commercials in which to take a breather from reality in our LIFETIME movie! LOL.

    Wish us all luck this new hurricane season, Roland

  8. I didn't know you live in or near New Orleans. I visited that city before the hurricane. It was a very unique city indeed. I loved that it appeared like a boutique artsy feel until 6:00. Then I saw people rushing to close up the little boutiques and they were gone only to be replaced by a different sort of crowd. I loved that city and would love to go back to see it again.

    Sorry to hear that you were there for the Hurricane. That must have been a scary time for all.

  9. Downloading kindle was the easy part, now getting use to their menu tabs...

    This is my first, reading a book on-line. I'm liking it, the letters are large enough I don't need my glasses. Yippee. (can't find them anyways, double yippeee) lol.

    Your book, as I have anticipated is a very good read, and I am not just saying this because I was and still am following your blog you know.

    I've just started and my interest longs to hear Hibbs voice, that's a good sign of a good writer.

    I also felt like I was there at the tree where Hibbs was with his thoughts, it was a moment where my imagination stood still in your book and felt the moment.

    I'll continue to read and keep you posted.

  10. Imagery Imagined : I'm glad you found yourself standing next to Hibbs in that first chapter. Hope your reading journey with Hibbs is a fun one. Roland