Note: This is an excerpt from my book, More Than Everything – the true story of my life on the run from the FBI. This scene takes place in Chapter 2. My husband (at the time) and I have just moved into an apartment in Fort Worth after living in Cleburne, Texas for a couple of years.
Shane’s cousin, Robert, helps us move from Cleburne and then Shane has to take him back home around midnight when we’re finally finished. Shane and Robert set up the king-size waterbed when we first get to the apartment and it has been filling up for a couple of hours. Before they leave Shane says he’s turned off the water, but instead of turning it off he has mistakenly turned it on full blast.
I am exhausted and have to go to work the next day so as soon as they leave I crash on the couch; all our belongings still in boxes stacked around on the floor of the one bedroom apartment that suddenly seems way too small.
Sometime later, when I’m deep in sleep and dead to the world, I am brought wide awake by a very loud BOOM! It sounds like a shotgun blast at close range. I jump up off the couch and am standing in two inches of very cold water. The water seems to be coming from the bedroom and I run around the corner into the room and flick on the overhead light.
It is a disaster.
The waterbed frame has given way under the pressure of the overfilled mattress and one of the sideboards has gone through the wall into the apartment next door. Through a hole the size of a large watermelon, a river of water is escaping into the darkness of that apartment. The curtains have been ripped from the window and are sloshing around in the water at the head of the bed.
My heart is racing and I panic. I think to myself I must not let any more water escape from the torn mattress, that there has been too much damage already so I climb onto the bed and, kneeling in the middle of the platform, I reach over and grab one corner of the rubbery mattress. With one corner in my grip I crawl over to the other side, the front of my t-shirt dragging in the cold puddle of water, and I try to grab another corner but the weight of the water still trapped in what’s left of the mattress is too much, too heavy and I can’t move it but I pull with all my might and struggle and struggle and eventually lose my grip on the one corner and have to start all over again.
I grab, I pull, I crawl, I struggle, I lose my grip. Over and over again. I am exhausted and terrified but I can’t stop grabbing, pulling, struggling. My brain won’t let go of this idea that I have to prevent more water from escaping. I am incapable of talking myself out of the craziness because I don’t even realize that what I’m doing is crazy. I only know that I cannot let more water escape. I am drenched from head to toe, my lips are turning blue, my teeth are chattering; my nipples are straining against the wet t-shirt clinging to my body. My bare arms and legs are covered in goose bumps but I keep up my struggle.
Then there is a tap, tap, tap, on the bedroom window. Startled out of my private nightmare I look up and see three wide-eyed strangers (a guy and two girls) staring at me in disbelief through the glass. I stare blankly back at them. The guy is talking to me.
Are you ok? What happened?
I don’t respond, I’m just staring at them staring at me. Then the guy starts pointing to the front door and yelling at me to open the door so they can come in and help. It takes me a few seconds to register what he is saying and even longer to give up my grip on the mattress.
When Shane comes home asking what the fuck, the maintenance man has been running the water vacuum for over an hour, mumbling and grumbling under his breath; the cheap carpet going bald in huge clumps.
The lady from next door, whose closet is now flooded, stays long enough to bitch me out about all her ruined clothes and shoes then leaves in her car, tires squealing.
The couple from upstairs is quietly helpful for a while. They were glad to learn that the big boom hadn’t been a gunshot. After I open the front door for them and everyone discovers what the problem is, he goes back to their apartment and brings back two brooms. Together they sweep water out the doors, him out the front door and her out the back patio, until the maintenance man comes. Then they leave with their brooms, quietly wishing me luck, careful not to look around at the devastation they are leaving me with.
I watch them leave wondering what their names are and why they have two brooms.