So you can read my books

Friday, December 3, 2010


“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.

Jodi Henry

has awarded me the "Versatile Blogger" where I have to reveal 7 things about myself.

Amanda Sablan and VR Barkowski awarded me and tagged me with similar awards. Ouch.

For one, I had to tell 10 things you don't know about me, and for the other, I had to answer 5 questions with 5 answers about myself.

I thought I would combine the three. Probably won't work. But hey, it could be fun. I think Custer said that same thing about that infamous stroll through some valley.


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. Alone.

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 of the five questions. 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.

And another thing about me : Each time I enter my apartment, Gypsy pads to me in greeting, and I say, "The Force is with you, young Gypsy, but you are not a jedi yet."

She seems unperturbed. And here are some scenes you will not believe from George Lucas' new creation, THE OLD REPUBLIC :


  1. Doubly awarded for similar things. Makes me think your doing something your blogger friends appreciate. And for someone who doesn't like to talk about himself, you sure manage to pack a lot of 'you' into your posts.

    This one is special. Thanks for sharing. You probably answered more questions than the ones on the list.


  2. First, congrats on the awards, well deserved. Second, you put new meaning to the word perspective and ones ability to smile through the rain. But I do love your outlook and yes it is how we end and not how we start. Smart man :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  3. Knowing this makes reading your work that much deeper. The city and characters...the proximity of life and eternity to each other...


  4. Congrats on the well-deserved awards!

    I love the way you answered the questions.

  5. Congratulations on the awards!

    Great story, by the way. I know it probably wasn't so great at the time but real life stories are the best:)

    I'm glad you reached Job status. My life of recent years makes me feel more like Calamity Jane.

    Have a great weekend, Roland!

  6. Blogger ate my post:(

    Congrats on your awards!

    Great story, by the way. I know it probably didn't feel great at the time but real stories are the best and you know how to tell them.
    Have a wonderful weekend, Roland:)

  7. As always, a story well-told, made all the more poignant because it's true. That you concluded with the reveal about Gypsy made me smile - just as you intended. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  8. Quite an experience, and it's nice you shared with us, your bloggy community. Whew! You have a lot of feelings and experiences you can mine for your writing, I'm sure.

  9. Thank you for sharing your heart wrenching experiences with us. No wonder you write with so much heart and passion. You life is quite unusual and so important to others. Their lives are in your hands. With each delivery you are saving a life. I am so impressed. Especially by your humility.