Sunday, May 16, 2010

Galveston, 1900

"All over Galveston freakish things occurred. Slate fractured skulls and removed limbs. Venomous snakes spiraled upward into trees occupied by people. A rocket of timber killed a horse in midgallop.

"At the expensive Lucas Terrace apartment building, Edward Quayle of Liverpool, England, who had arrived in Galveston with wife three days earlier, happened to walk past a window just as the room underwent a catastrophic depressurization that blew the window outward into the storm. Mr Quayle rocketed to his death trailing a slipstream of screams from his wife.

"At another address, Mrs Willima Henry Heideman, eight months pregnant, saw her house collapse and apparently kill her husband and three-year-old son. She climbed onto a floating roof. When the roof collided with something else, the shock sent her sliding donw into a floating trunk, which then sailed right to the upper windows of the city's Ursuline convent. The sisters hauled her inside, dressed her in warm clothes, and put her to bed in one of the convent cells. She went into labor. Meanwhile, a man stranded in a tree in the convent courtyard heard the cry of a small child and plucked him from the current. A heartbeat later, he saw that the child was his own nephew - Mrs Heideman's three-year-old son.

"Mrs Heideman had her baby. She was reunited with her son. She never saw her husband again."

- Isaac's Storm,
The Drowning of Galveston

Erik Larson

Saturday, May 8, 2010

from "February"

The world’s always been an irrational place, you don’t need me to tell you that. You take that woman down in Florida, brought her boy down to a shooting range and put a bullet through the back of his head. Said later angels or something made her do it, she certainly didn’t want to. She loved her son, grieved for him now he was gone. Makes no sense, but I see no reason not to believe her.

I’ve lived here all my life. This is a fairly quiet part of the world, that’s what I like about it. And I’ve known Bill since we were both kids. He was a pretty good guy, all in all. Ran a little wild back in high school, couple of years after he came back home from the army. He was the kind of guy that you’d run into from time to time, always picking his kids up from school, etc and so forth. Little League. His wife, Janice, was one of those PTA milk-and-cookies types, knew everybody, always volunteering for things. You’d look at the two of them together and you’d think, well sure. I guess they had it figured out.

Last time I actually saw Bill, saw to talk to anyway, was at the bank, of all places. I don’t even remember what we talked about. Kids and weather, probably. He seemed OK that day, though I don’t know how anybody knows anything about people when you come right down to it. People show you what they want to show you, and that tends to be good enough. And then he went and did the most terrible thing you could imagine.