Jordan got home around six that evening and had several grocery bags on him as he came into the house, “Man, it’s crazy out there. People are going nuts over this storm coming.”Jenny rushed over and took two bags from his hands, “Here, let me help you.”
It was raining more now and the wind had picked up outside.
Jordan smiled at me, “Hey Anna, I’m so glad to see you here.”
He set the bags down, walked over to me, and hugged me tightly.
He let go and looked at me, “Shane said not to worry about not making it today. He’s glad you’re staying with us through this and he misses you of course and loves you very much.”
I lowered my eyes and nodded, “Okay.”
Jordan didn’t move and added softly, “He’s doing all right, just hoping to get a court date soon so the wait will be over. Waiting around is the hardest part for him.”
I nodded again but there was not much I could say.
Jordan held my shoulders and squeezed a little, “Hey, I’m glad you’re here now. I guess it’s going to be a big one.”
He let go of me and turned to Jenny, “I got gas for the generator. I still have like four packs of water in the truck. A bunch of batteries and some more flashlights. I also need to tie the boat down and secure everything else in the backyard.”Jenny replied, “Thanks baby.”
Jordan went back outside and came back in, balancing two 24 cases of water bottles on his arms and bringing them in. Jenny was busy unloading the grocery bags and putting everything away.
I offered, “Jenny, let me help you.”
She explained to me where things would go and we both put things away then. Jordan brought in the other items and then went back out to take care of things in the yard. He even boarded up some windows and stayed busy outside in the weather until later that night. The storm had picked up a lot by then. Jenny had cooked dinner and we all ate.
She had also made some phone calls to family and friends, and everyone charged their electronics before the power would possibly go out.
I called Nadine and explained that I was safe and would stay in Morgan City. When I called my foster parents we talked for a while. Al and Cindy were somewhat nervous that I hadn’t come to Ponchatoula to ride out the storm instead of going down to Morgan City but they understood why I would rather be there than with them. Lake Pontchartrain causeway was getting closed off Sunday night, winds were picking up and water was coming over the road in some spots where it would be too dangerous to drive.
It was almost midnight when Jordan finally came in, soaking wet, “I’m going to take a shower.”
He disappeared into the bathroom and we watched the news some more and saw how bad it was getting now toward the city. We were shocked to see that the Superdome had opened for temporary shelter and people who were not able to leave the city had been flocking to it all throughout the day. The news reporters were stationed at various locations in the city constantly reporting and it didn’t look good at all. When they were talking into the camera they were sometimes barely audible on their microphones with the wind blowing so strong.
Several hospitals and nursing homes in New Orleans were getting evacuated. All public offices and places would be closed for at least Monday and Tuesday.The TV was constantly streaming all the closures of places and roads on the bottom of the screen.
We were sitting in the living room, the kids cuddled on the couch with their parents, too nervous to go to sleep but also too tired to stay awake. I glanced over at Jordan and Jenny. They sat arm in arm, cuddled close and a kid on either side of them, their arms around them. I saw a lot of love and I longed for Shane so much. I pulled the blanket tighter and turned my eyes back to the TV. We were quietly watching the situation in New Orleans unfold while outside the wind was fiercely blowing around the trailer and the rain was pounding against the house and onto the roof.
It was around midnight when we all decided to try to get some sleep. When I finally lay in bed I thought of Shane in jail and wondered how he was doing. I missed him so much. There was not too much sleep possible because the storm outside seemed to worsen and it was noisy and I heard lots of creaking and squeaking.
We were all up and about again around eight that morning and as soon as we had the TV on we saw the hurricane had come ashore already, was still going strong and the mayor of New Orleans announced that water was running over one of the levees and there was a high possibility and danger that the levees could break. The city was flooding in many areas.
Power cut off to the trailer shortly before eleven and the last we had heard was that the eye of the storm was about to hit New Orleans. It was getting bad.We had a small emergency radio running and now were without power. Outside the trailer, puddles were quickly filling and Jordan went out into the storm to crank up the generator for at least the refrigerator and the air conditioner.
There was not much we could do but listen to the radio and as we heard that a levee was breaking in the city we were overcome by an utter sadness at what was going to happen in New Orleans.
We stayed without power all day and the yard around the trailer was flooding with the ongoing strong rain and some large tree branches came down outside, luckily not hitting the trailer roof. We felt the whole house move at some of the wind gusts and the kids were scared. Jenny and Jordan had to assure them that everything would be all right.
Meanwhile in New Orleans the storm had no mercy and the city was flooding, people were dying and the Superdome had become too crowded with masses of people flooding to it like the water into the city. The situation became more severe by the minute. During the day it was also announced over the small radio that the French Quarter was flooding quickly and we sat in front of the radio and I started crying. I also listened attentively on any information on the situation in Metairie but had not heard anything too awful. I was worried about my apartment complex.
Morgan City was flooding in some areas and there was some destruction already. The radio was constantly announcing and updating as Hurricane Katrina made sure to destroy as much as possible in her path.
It was horrible and I kept thinking about all my friends and of course Shane. I wanted to hear his voice, I wanted to see him but I couldn’t and it eventually hit me again and I sat on the couch and quietly started crying.
Jenny realized and came over and plopped next to me, gently putting her arm around me, “You all right?”
I shook my head and said lowly, “What’s going to happen?”
“I don’t know, it’s bad, really bad…”
“I wonder if Shane is okay.”
“I’m sure he is, they have to keep their inmates safe. They’re not just going to let them be in danger or anything.”
I could only nod with tears running down my cheeks.
Hurricane Katrina ended up being the most severe and devastating hurricane ever for the city of New Orleans and the Louisiana coastline.
I rode out the storm with Jenny and Jordan and their kids. Power stayed gone for the whole week and the phone landlines were affected and even when Wednesday came around I couldn’t talk to Shane. As devastated as I was at what had happened during the storm all I could think of was my boyfriend and hopefully being able to see him on Saturday.
Meanwhile I witnessed the city literally going under but I couldn’t even get in touch with Nadine and Ray until Thursday morning and even then we could only talk for a few moments. The club had to stay closed, the French Quarter was flooded and Nadine was crying on the phone with me about the unknown future and situation of the club.
The Pontchartrain causeway had been damaged in the storm and would be closed indefinite. Anyone wanting to get to the other side had to go around. I was able to get in touch with Al and Cindy and was glad to hear they were okay and not affected too much. They were relieved to hear I was okay and suggested I stay with Jordan and Jenny for the time being.
When Saturday came around I was up and ready to go at nine o’clock. Jordan was going to go with me because we didn’t know if any of the roads were flooded on the way out to the jail. We had tried to call prior to going out there but couldn’t get through so we just tried our luck and drove out there. I was hoping very much that we could actually see Shane.
Only a few cars were on the parking lot where it wasn’t flooded. We made our way to the gate and I was relieved to see some officers there to check us in. We actually were allowed to enter and inside we signed in and were led into the visiting room again. There were tables this time, only a few visitors with the inmates were talking softly at the other tables. We sat down and I was so nervous.
It took a few minutes before I saw Shane come through the door. He was in his braces and holding on to his crutches. When he saw me he seemed to try to make his way over quicker which wasn’t much faster than usually. I stood up, ready to hug him and tears streamed out of my eyes.
He made it over and I couldn’t help myself, wrapping my arms around his neck and pushing myself to him. He lost his grounding some and I had to remind myself not to push him too much. After all he was holding on tightly to his crutches to keep his balance.
He buried his face in my hair, I cried onto his shirt and I mumbled, “Oh Gosh, I missed you so much.”I actually couldn’t help myself when I started sobbing some and Shane hushed into my hair, “Hey, Hey…it’s all right. You’re here now. I’m very happy about that.”
I didn’t want to let go of him and we stood there for a few moments until I loosened my embrace.
Jordan patted Shane on the back, “Hey bud, it’s good to see you.”
None of the officers standing around seemed to mind us hugging and holding each other this time.
When I finally looked at Shane’s face, I realized how he looked skinnier, his cheeks sunken in some, his dark eyes shiny but apparently freshly shaved and he smelled faintly of something fresh, maybe deodorant.He smiled at me, “I think I need to sit down. This shit is getting difficult since I’m not in them a lot anymore.”
I pulled a chair out and nodded, watching him let himself down with shaky arms and unlocking his braces so he could bend his legs. My eyes were on him closely and I could see he was somewhat weak. He looked up from under his bangs and smiled again. Oh my God, how much had I missed my boyfriend with his beautiful smile and his deeply dark eyes.
Jordan sat down across while I sat right next to Shane and pushed my chair as close as possible. I still had tears running down my face.
Shane took my hand in his and pulled it over to his leg letting it rest on the warm leather thigh cuff and he asked lowly, “How’s everyone doing? That hurricane was some serious shit, wasn’t it? I saw a little on TV and heard stuff on the radio, it sounds really bad.”
While Jordan told Shane about everything going on at the house and with the family I just sat there, I felt Shane’s hand around mine, his thumb rubbing over the back of it. I was watching him from the side, taking in everything.
When Jordan was done Shane turned to me, “How about your people and the club and everything?”I swallowed, wiped over my face and told him what I knew. He had his eyes fully focused on me listening attentively.
I finished with, “So right now I don’t know what’s going to happen with the club. The last time I talked to Ray and Nadine was on Thursday. The French Quarter is flooded right now.”
Jordan added, “Well, pretty much half of the city is under water. It’s very bad.”
I asked him softly, “Have you heard anything about a court date?”
Shane looked down, then up again, shaking his head, “I don’t think it’ll happen anytime soon with all the stuff going on.”
I didn’t like the answer but I had somewhat expected it.
I wanted to ask the time line question but I knew he wouldn’t have an answer, he was stuck in jail indefinite. I would only be able to see him for an hour on the weekends and that wouldn’t change anytime soon. I had no idea what would happen to my job, didn’t know if my apartment was still okay, and had no clue how I would manage with Shane locked up in Morgan City.
I would somehow eventually have to go back to Metairie soon. According to the news Metairie was somewhat okay, but the inner city and the lower ninth ward was totally flooded. Lots of people had died. The Superdome was becoming a nightmare of too many people in shelter, it had also sustained damage to its roof and was now leaking. All along the coastline small towns were flooded and lots of places destroyed.
I snapped out of the moment and looked up at Shane again, his eyes were still on me and he just smiled at me comforting and warm, then said softly, “I’ll be all right. I wish I could be out there with you guys though and help you with whatever is going on. It’s tough to be locked up in here when all this stuff is happening out there. I can’t believe how bad it was.”
Jordan nodded, “Yeah, this one was really, really bad. I don’t know how we’ll recover from that. The whole state is in a state of emergency, the government has been sending in the National Guard, Army and Navy.”
Shane held on to my hand like his life depended on it.
Jordan eventually shifted and said, “Well, I’ll give you guys some time. I’ll come back again next weekend bro but will try to call on Wednesday.”Shane nodded, “Thanks Jordan.”
Jordan got up and with a bro hug said his Good Byes and walked out. Shane looked after his brother, then looked back at me.
We didn’t say anything for a moment until I asked softly, “How are you really doing Shane?”He lowered his eyes and I watched him rub his thumb over my hand still.
When he didn’t reply I said softly, “Shane?”
He then looked up and his eyes were shiny, “I’m doing okay but…” He took a deep breath and then continued, “I hate that I pulled you into this. I totally get it if you don’t want to wait for me. This sucks big time.”
I tried to stay strong and I replied lowly, “It’s definitely not easy for me either, and I just hope they’ll throw out the charges once you get a court date. I miss you so much Shane, everything about you.”
With that I touched my hand to his braces and I smiled at him, “Even those babies, I can’t wait to play around with them again.”
He laughed lowly, “Is this what keeps you waiting for me?”
I nodded and laughed, “It is, there is no other guy like you and I’m not letting you get away that easy.”
I was serious now and touched his face, “I think of you all the time Shane. I think of us and I want us to be together and be happy with each other. You changed my life so much, I’ve never felt about anyone the way I feel about you. Yes, I’m scared about what the future brings and I’m so worried about you but I hope and pray with all my heart that we’ll be together again soon. I don’t want to think about the ‘What if’s’ because they scare me so very much.”He nodded, “Me too.”
I looked at him, “Look into my eyes Shane.”He moved his dark eyes up to me, and we held our gaze as I said, “No matter what happens with you. I’m going to be there for you, I’ll wait for you however long it takes. And even if you have to finish your sentence I’ll be waiting. I’ll wait for you Shane because I love you more than anyone and anything. Who knows what’s going to happen now with this storm and everything that is happening but you and I won’t change. At least for me I promise you I’ll be around no matter what happens. I love you so much and I want to be with you whenever they let us be together again.”
A tear dripped out of his eye then and he opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. He kept his dark eyes on me for another few seconds and I squeezed his hand in mine.
Another tear dripped down but he didn’t try to hide it, he didn’t try to wipe it away, but finally softly replied, “I don’t deserve you Anna. Your love and everything about you is still unreal to me and now that we can’t be together, it feels like I’m in a freaking nightmare and I can’t wake up from it. It’s hard, it’s so damned painful to not be able to be with you and take care of you. You are my world and my everything. As much as I hate putting you through all this shit with me, I need you so much, Anna but I hate myself for this. In a way I don’t want to put you through this but there’s nothing I can do to fix it. I fucked up and I really wanted to get my life together again, especially when you came into it and you give me all this love and make me feel so good but now I fucked up again and I hate myself for it. I just can’t seem to get my shit together but having pulled you into it drives me crazy inside. I love you more than you can imagine Anna, but it hurts me so much to see you like this…”
He stopped and another tear ran down his cheek, it hurt my heart to see him in so much pain. I was trying my best to keep it together in the face of this but it was very exhausting. My hands were trembling as I brought my hand up and touched it to his cheek.
A clearing of a throat made us both look in the direction where the noise came from and it was the officer closest to us, who said lowly, “Cut it out now you guys, or I have to finish up the visit.”I moved my hand away from Shane’s face quickly and we moved away from each other slightly, only holding our hands on Shane’s thighs.
He laughed lowly in a sarcastic way and shook his head, “I hate this shit.”
I tried to stay calm, “It’s all right, don’t worry about it.”
Our visit wasn’t very talkative anymore, Shane became quiet and even though I tried to keep up his spirits, it didn’t seem to work anymore.
When it was time to say Good Bye, he quietly slipped his arms into his crutches, pulled himself up to a standing with the click of locking his braces straight. I stood in front of him and we looked at each other again.He said lowly, “You should stay with Jordan and his family until things clear up in the city.”
I nodded obediently, “I probably will stay for a few more days until I can get a hold of Ray and Nadine again. And I’ll call you on Wednesday and come again on Saturday.”
He nodded but didn’t say anything.
“I love you Shane.”
He looked sad and serious, “I love you more than anything in the world, don’t ever forget that Anna.”
I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him close to me, he seemed almost reluctant and I held him to me and said lowly, “Shane, we can do this, okay.”
He kissed my head and nodded. We parted ways and somehow I felt him leave sad and distant. I watched as he made his way across the room and disappeared through the door. I loved seeing him walk with his braces and crutches and I missed him already.
As I signed out and made my way back out to Jordan’s truck tears started rolling over my cheeks. At the truck Jordan was laid back on his seat some and had his eyes closed, waiting for me. I softly knocked on the locked passenger side door and he was startled and looked over quickly. He then unlocked the door and I climbed in.
He looked over to me, “Are you all right?”I shook my head without words and tried to keep more tears from flowing.
Jordan didn’t say anything else and started his truck and we drove back to the trailer.
The power was still out over the weekend, gas was running low for the generator. On Sunday Jordan was out and about with Scott, trying to get more gas and assess the situation in Morgan City. Helpers were needed for some cleanup and the guys volunteered. I stayed with Jenny and the kids at the house, Becky and her kids were also there all Sunday.
I decided I needed to get back to Metairie soon. The situation in New Orleans was dire and apparently the whole French Quarter was under water. I finally got a hold of Al and Cindy and they asked me to come up to Ponchatoula but I would have had to drive around the Lake as the Causeway was damaged and all traffic was prohibited from entering onto the bridge.
The Superdome was in a catastrophic state with thousands of people still seeking shelter there. Dead bodies were being recovered everywhere in the city. The number of casualties was constantly climbing. We all watched helplessly as our state was becoming a place of total destruction and death, the government trying to figure out the best way to help. Pictures we saw in the paper looked like we lived in a Third World Country. It was horrible and sad.
Wednesday morning I called the prison to talk to Shane.After I asked for him, the officer on the other line put me on hold for a moment. I waited, expecting to hear Shane momentarily on the other end. I imagined him making it to the phone without his braces would take him a few moments as always but instead of Shane the officer came back on the line.
“So, Ms. Ashworth, Mr. Lenalier actually submitted a request to not receive any calls from you anymore at this time. He also filled out the paperwork to have no more visitors at this time. He can revoke this whenever he pleases but this is his request right now.”I was stunned, “What do you mean? Why are you not letting me talk to him?”
The officer sounded warm and comforting trying to explain, “Ms. Ashworth, it’s not our policy or restriction. It’s Mr. Lenalier’s - Shane’s request to not be put through on calls from you or anyone else for a matter of fact and he also doesn’t want to receive any visitors any more for now.”
I swallowed and all I could say was, “Why?”
The officer added softly, “I don’t know why, we don’t know why. We have to respect his privacy and wishes. Sometimes this happens. Inmates don’t want to put family members through the stress of visiting or something. He may have his reasons but we can’t do anything about that. If it helps, he doesn’t want to talk or see anyone at this time, not just you.”
Again I was stunned, “Why…”
Right away I knew this word was useless as there was no other answer or explanation.
The officer finished warmly, “I’m sorry about this. Maybe give him some time and he’ll come around again. We ask you to not come out during visiting hours this weekend as we cannot let you in to see him unless he changes his mind before the weekend and then we’ll call you. You may write to him and we’ll forward the mail to him if that would be something you want to do.”I knew the officer tried to let me off easy but it was still a shock to me, “I see…thank you.”
I barely brought the words over my lips and hung up.
I was in the bedroom, dropped the phone on the bed and cried.
Shane had shut me out and it hurt so tremendously, I thought my heart would stop.
I sobbed in my bedroom until I heard a knock on the door and Jenny’s voice, “Anna, what’s going on?”
I didn’t answer but Jenny came in nonetheless, “Anna, honey, what happened?”
I looked at her with teary eyes, “He’s not taking any more calls or visits from anyone.”
Jenny came closer and sat on the bed, “What? Why?”
“I don’t know, the officer told me he filled out paperwork for that and they have to adhere to his request.”
“Like not even Jordan?”
“I don’t think so.”
Jenny stroked over my arm, “I’m so sorry Anna.”
“I’m going to head back to Metairie today. I need to get down there and see what’s going on.”
Jordan ended up trying to call Shane but he got the same answer from the prison. Shane had shut us all out and while my reaction was sad and shocked, Jordan’s reaction was only anger and he yelled around about how stupid he thought Shane was by doing this. I know it was the pain he felt about his brother taking this step and not letting us in anymore.
It was on that same day when I got my things together and left Morgan City to go back to my place. I was terrified at what I was going to find there. My phone was almost dead by then and I turned it off on my way. A call I tried to make before to Ray and Nadine didn’t go through, a busy signal kept sounding. A call to the club didn’t make any sounds, but just a dead line.
My Good Bye to Jordan and Jenny was filled with tears and even though Jenny tried to comfort me about Shane’s decision I felt like it wouldn’t be anytime soon I would see them again.
Jordan demanded I stay in touch and they would do the same. He kept apologizing for Shane’s decision even though it had nothing to do with him. I know he was hurting very much about his brother’s decision. We didn’t understand it.