I submitted the following story to a couple of flash markets several years ago, but came up dry. Since then I completely forgot about it. I’m nothing if not a terrible record-keeper.
Rocky Point is a real place. The geography I wrote about is accurate.
a short story by Grant Gougler
When the military blew the dam it flooded a lot of the communities around the lake. Rocky Point was one of the luckier ones, I guess, because the single road leading into it was flooded, but the rest of it remained high and dry.
Whenever I run out of food, I anchor my houseboat twenty yards from the shore and swim in. Each time I’m pleased to find Tommy’s Grocery—part convenience store, part bait shop—hasn’t been completely looted yet. Most of the people who lived in the community were evacuated. Those who weren’t aren’t exactly interested in Doritos and corn flakes anymore.
Tommy is still lurking in the back of the store. He grunts and growls through the tiny window in the employees-only door, but I shoved a big display of soda cans in front of the door so he can make all the fuss he wants, he’s not gonna get me.
I stock up mostly on meats and vegetables, in order of the stuff that’s got the shortest shelf life. The next time I come in I’ll probably have to start taking the packaged stuff exclusively. The meats in the deli case are beginning to develop a rainbow-colored sheen that worries me. The box of potatoes are growing appendages. Typically I’m starving to death by the time I work up the courage to go back to land. But the second I step foot into the store the smell of dead worms and minnows turns me off of eating food for a few hours. I’m beginning to smell Tommy, too. Fortunately, I’m used to the smell of human rot.
I load my take into a picnic basket which I float back to the boat on a lifesaver. I’m always chilled when I get out of the water. Instead of toweling off, I go inside and wrap myself up in the bed. This time I take a nap. When I wake up I crack open a warm beer and smoke a cigarette for the first time in my life. I don’t like the taste of the cigarette, can’t imagine anyone could, but I plan to smoke the rest of the pack later. I watch the sun set and then I pull anchor. I drive on to the floating gas station in Taylor Ferry and fill up my tanks. No telling how much gas is left in the pumps, so I stock up on all I can carry.
Funny thing about the electricity. It’s occurred to me more than once that someone must be at the power station, making sure the grid doesn’t go down. But never has it occurred to me to seek him out, not until now. I know where the power station is—it’s that solitary light out there on that cliff. Squint and you can probably see it if the diminishing sliver of sunlight doesn’t get in your eyes. I’m still thinking about introducing myself to whoever’s out there, even as I drive farther away from it. It’s a nice thought, but he doesn’t want to meet me and I don’t want to meet him. It’s going to be a while before people can trust each other again, even the living ones.
Rocky Point by Grant Gougler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.gougblog.com.
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