Allie put on a pair of slacks and shirt and we went to the Lido restaurant which was nearly deserted. The young people looked at the food on the buffet and decided that they would rather have two pizzas and some sodas. The rest of us were drinking our beverages of choice as the five young guys and Brahim were eating the pizza. They were just about finished when a big wave splashed against the ship and water was running down the windows of the Lido restaurant.
An announcement came over the intercom, "This is Captain Brower. All facilities on the ship are going to be closed until morning. We request that all passengers return to their cabins immediately and move about as little as possible for the next several hours. We will be in for a real roller coaster ride. Whatever you do, do not, and I repeat, do not, and go out on the open decks or verandas."
When we got to our suite, it was just the five young guys and Brahim and me. All of the furniture and cushions from the veranda, that weren't attached to the ship, were in the living area. Michael arrived and announced, "Gentlemen, I think you might consider sleeping on the floor of the bedrooms tonight until we have passed out of the storm's reaches."
The ship was hit by another huge wave just then, and Michael was thrown against the wall. When he recovered, he looked at the five young guys, I suggest that you take your blankets and pillows and go into Mr. Waller and Brahim's room and sleep. There is nothing in there that is going to be falling on you."
As Michael was leaving, he commented, "I've been working on cruise ships for twelve years and I can't remember another time that has been this rough. I'll see you in the morning. I'm going to go strap myself in my bunk. Be thankful that you are up here and not down where we have our cabins."
We helped the five ten year olds bring their things into Brahim's and my bedroom, and we had just settled down when we heard a loud thud and the ship seemed as if it was taking off in the air. The ship crashed back to the surface. Allie was lying behind me holding on for dear life. He whispered, "Dad, we're not going to die, are we?"
I turned so I could face him, "Allie, we're going to be just fine. The worst should be over shortly. Now go to sleep. I love you."
Allie wasn't about to give up, "Dad, you don't suppose that Allah or God or whatever supreme being that is out there is trying to us tell us that we're evil, do you? I would almost rather be shot at than have my friends put through this because of me."
"Allie, hurricanes have been happening for as long as the Earth has existed. I can assure you that neither you, Brahim or I had anything to do with this storm. Now go to sleep."
Finally, I heard six persons breathing as if they were asleep. For some reason, I was having a difficult time going to sleep myself. I kept thinking about the storm and what Allie had said about saying that he would rather be shot at than face the unknown. I kept looking at the clock on the television set that was bolted down. It was a little after three when the movement began to slow and the sound of the ship's engines changed.
I waited to see if it was going to remain calm, and it did, so I started to carry the sleeping ten year olds back to Allie's bed.
After I had them all settled, I awakened Brahim and informed him that he needed to get in bed so I could take advantage of him."
Brahim looked at me, "Is there something wrong with the ship? It's as if we are floating along through the water."
He started to laugh, "I guess the sperm whales were getting hungry and pushed us out of the storm's path. Ed, if every cruise is going to be this rough, I'm not sure I want to take too many of them. I thought I was going to lose what was in my stomach a couple of times tonight."
"Bra, just get in bed and we'll worry about the sperm whales tomorrow. I'm tired. I haven't been to sleep yet."
Allie came into our bedroom at seven thirty, "Dad and Brahim, I'm hungry. Do you think we will be able to get anything to eat this morning?"
I sat up and hugged him, "I'm sure they will have something for us to eat, even if it is dry cereal and fruit."
"Dad, do you think it's okay for us to take a shower this morning?"
"Allie, I don't know. Why don't you try to take one and if the shower doesn't work then you will know there is a problem."
"Dad, have you seen the stuff on the veranda. There are some dead fish out there. Is that what the rest of the ship is going to look like?"
"Allie, go wake your friends and I'll wake Brahim. I don't think we should wake anyone else, this morning."
I went to look at the veranda and Allie was right. Not only were there dead fish on it, but seaweed as well. I woke Brahim and the seven of us were dressed when Michael and David arrived.
Allie asked, "You guys didn't get tossed out of bed, did you?"
David chuckled, "Nope, our bed belts kept us from falling out of bed. There are a lot of crewmembers who aren't feeling too well. Guys, don't go on the outside decks until the Captain gives you the okay. The decks are all a mess."
I looked at Michael and David, "Is the dining room open?"
Michael answered, "Yes, but they will be offering only a limited menu this morning, since the food staff was confined to quarters until four o'clock this morning."
Allie nodded, "That's okay, we can eat simple for a change."
When we arrived at the dining room, we were the only passengers there. We each practically had our own server hovering over us. You would not have thought the kitchen staff was not prepared because we had juice followed by fresh fruit and two scrambled eggs with hash browns, toast and two pieces of bacon.
We were just starting to eat when Khalid and Amir arrived Khalid complained, "Why didn't someone wake us?"
Allie looked up, "I tried, but you didn't respond when I rang your door chimes. You were snoring so loud that doors were rattling. I wasn't about to walk across the veranda with all of the gunk on it."
Amir looked at what we were eating, "We'll have what they're having."
Josef laughed, "That's good, because that's all we're serving this morning."
The young guys were just about finished when Alan arrived with Mrs. Dawkins. Allie reacted immediately, "Quick, everyone, hide under the table. Maybe they'll go away."
Alan stared at Allie, "Allie, this is serious business. The storms have played havoc with our entertainment schedule. The cast is frantically getting the show props and costumes ready for tonight's show. The people, who were to perform tomorrow night, have no way of getting to the ship in the middle of the ocean."
Allie threw up his hands, "What exactly are you trying to say?"
Mrs. Dawkins answered, "We're asking that you and Brahim and your friends do another show tomorrow night. I could practice with you five young men this morning while the crew is cleaning the ship. I'll work with Brahim this afternoon after lunch."
Allie looked at Alan and Mrs. Dawkins, "We'll do it, with one important condition."
Alan asked, "And what might that be?"
Allie looked up, "Hi, Mr. Yates. I hope you're feeling okay. These people are trying to make us the slaves of this ship. Call the President and tell him how badly they are treating us. It's child slave labor, and it needs to stop."
Cal laughed, "I'll call him right after I get some coffee and some food."
Alan asked, "Allie, what is the condition?"
Allie winked at the guys, "We demand that you take us to a nude beach when we get to Bermuda, so we can enjoy the scenery while we're swimming.
Mrs. Dawkins chuckled, "Well, I ain't going to no nude beach. I'd scare all of the patrons away. Now come on you guys, you're making me get a thousand gray hairs by the minute."
Mrs. Dawkins left with the five young guys, a pot of coffee and a plate of food. The rest of us were talking when our entire complement of people were sitting in our special alcove. I was telling them what Allie had asked about supreme being thinking we we're evil. Mr. Hobbs looked up from his breakfast, "He's done it again. Tell Allie I want him at the nondenominational service tomorrow."
After breakfast, Brahim, Khalid, Amir, Grandpa Darryl, Uncle Tom and I were sitting on our veranda which Michael and David had obviously cleaned.
It was just after ten o'clock when the public address system came on. Captain Brower announced, "This is Captain Brower. I am pleased to report that we came through the storm with very little damage. All facilities will be operating as normal by noon. The weather is forecast to be great for sailing as we head to Bermuda. Here's Alan with an update on the happenings that are planned for the rest of the day and tomorrow."
Alan came on, "Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is a formal night and the kitchen staff is busy preparing a special culinary delight for you. After your meal, the cast will be presenting their show, which was scheduled for last night.
Alan ran through the other activities and ended his spiel, "Because of the change in our itinerary, we will need to adjust our show schedule, since the people who were scheduled to perform tomorrow night will be unable to join us. We are pleased to announce that the Safi Brothers and Allie's friends have agreed to perform tomorrow night. The only stipulation is that Allie demands we find a nude beach when we reach Bermuda. Have a great rest of the day."
It was about 11:45 when the five guys invaded the veranda. They were giggling, John was saying, "We could always sing the Oompa Loompa song."
Allie announced, "Dad and everyone, we're going to go to the bathroom and then we'll be ready to go to lunch. We're starved. Bra, Mrs. Dawkins would like for you to be in the theatre for rehearsal at 1:30. Make sure you go to the bathroom before you go to the theatre though, because once Mrs. Dawkins gets started, she stops for no one."
After lunch, the five young guys decided to go look in the shops before they went swimming. I was sitting on the veranda and was joined by Khalid, Amir, Darryl and Uncle Tom.
We visited about the storms. Darryl mentioned, "I'm glad we live in Illinois. We don't have hurricanes, there. We may have tornados, but I think I would rather be in a tornado than a hurricane. Tornados usually don't damage large areas like hurricane Katrina did and totally disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. You just have to remember to stay away from anything resembling mobile home parks. Just think, if it hadn't been for tornados, Mr. Baum would never have written The Wizard of Oz."
Allie arrived at that moment, "Dad, they're having a special sale on tee shirts now that the ship's itinerary has had to be changed. Is it okay if use my card to buy one?"
Before I could answer, Uncle Tom answered, "Nope, but Darryl and I'll buy you one. Let's go see what's available."
Khalid grinned, "Amir and I'll go with them to make sure they don't spoil Allie anymore than he already is."
Allie grinned, "You're just afraid you'll miss something."
The four gentlemen left with Allie and I heard the door chimes, so I went to answer. Cal Yates was standing there, "Ed, are you here alone?"
"Yes, why do you ask?"
"I need to see the Brahim's, Allie's and your passports."
I was totally confused and thinking the worst possible scenario, "Cal, is there a problem with the guys getting into the United States?"
Call shook his head no, "Ed, believe me there is nothing wrong. I just need to get some information from the passports. I'm not at liberty to divulge why just yet. By the way, my wife and sons will be joining us when we arrive in Bermuda."
I was thinking to myself, 'What do our passports have to do with Cal's family joining us in Bermuda?'
I shrugged my shoulders, "We'll need to go to the purser's office and get them."
Fortunately, the person on the desk knew who we were and we had no trouble getting them. Cal copied down some information and handed them back to the young man. "Thanks, Ed. I need to go send some emails back to the states. I'll see you at dinner."
As I was starting toward the elevators, Reverend Hobbs approached me, "Have you talked to Allie about the church service, tomorrow?"
I laughed, "Reverend Hobbs, it has been as if, now you see him, now you don't. You can tell him at dinner what you want him to do."
I had just finished talking to Mr. Hobbs when I heard the public address system come on and announced, "Will Mr. Allie Safi report to the theatre, immediately?"
That told me that my two guys were going to be busy for some time. I decided to go to the library and see if I could find something interesting to read. I picked up a Clive Cussler and was reading when Lars tapped me on the shoulder."
"Mr. Waller, it's 5:30 and I need to close the library check out for today, so I can eat before the show. Would you like to check the book out?"
I looked up at Lars, "I guess I got lost in the book. Yes, please, I'd like to check it out. I need to finish it to find out what's going to happen."
Man was I in trouble. When I arrived at the suite, both Brahim and Allie lit into me. Allie started, "Dad, you need to let us know where you're going to be. We are sick, worrying that something happened to you. Haven't you ever heard of leaving notes to tell people where you are?"
Brahim started on me, "I guess you were at the swimming pool watching all the guys in bikinis go by. I hope you were able to keep your shorts on."
I put up my hands, "Look, you are the people that are always gone leaving me by myself. For your information, Mr. Yates needed some information and I helped him get it and then I talked to Reverend Hobbs. I decided to stop in the library and started reading until Lars kicked me out."
Allie wasn't about to relent, "You could have called and left a message on the phone. We need to know where you are at all times."
Fortunately the conversation was disrupted by the arrival of Michael and David. David looked at Allie, "We''ve come to help you get suitably attired for the evening's festivities. We understand that you are going to be able to sit back and relax and enjoy the show for a change. Master Allie, if you will permit, I will assist you while Michael assists your Dad and brother."
Allie was almost doubled over with laughter, "I'm sorry that you lost, David. Or perhaps you didn't lose and want to check to make sure I don't have a bigger penis than you."
David and Michael were both laughing, "I'll never tell why I'm here to help you."
Allie started to his bedroom, "Come on David, you can watch me as I take my shower and make sure I get clean."
Both bedroom doors were open and we could here Allie talking to David, "David, don't you miss your family when you are on the ship."
"Allie, I can make much more money on cruise ships than I can back home. I only work for six months each year on cruise ships and then I help my parents with their restaurant the rest of the year."
Allie asked, "David, what do your sons like to do for fun?"
"Arturo, who is the same age as you, likes to play soccer or football as we call it. Daniel, who is eight, likes to play basketball and swim. They can both compete in the sporting events back home because of the money I make on the ship."
Allie had one more question, "David, how long has it been since you have seen your family?"
"It has been nearly six months. I'm going home when we dock in Fort Lauderdale. Michael and I are both going home?"
Allie asked, "Are you and Michael like my Dad and Bra?"
David chuckled, "Not exactly, Michael and I are cousins. He has four children. Our wives would be very unhappy if we did anything out of the ordinary."
I stopped the talk, "Allie, those questions and comments were totally out of line. Michael and David's personal lives are really none of our business."
Michael looked at me, "Mr. Waller, David and I have nothing to hide. We have two wonderful families and we're proud of them. Allie, we'll share pictures of them tomorrow to keep you from going to the bathroom before your show. The staff is buzzing about what you and Brahim are going to be doing tomorrow night. You need to get going so you don't miss your friends."
I looked around and was thinking, 'Now even the staff is telling us what to do.'
I can tell you without reservation that tornadoes are indeed dangerous. While it is true that hurricanes can cause more widespread damage in one sweep, tornadoes can make multiple touchdowns, and can devastate a region pretty thoroughly.
If you are ever in the path of a tornado, please go to a safe place as soon as possible and don't try to stand outside holding a camcorder.
I am sure that E Walk is as familiar with the havoc that a tornado can cause as I am, and that he will agree with me on the logic of staying out of the way of one of them.
I also have some friends who live in areas that are often touched by hurricanes. They have told me some hair raising stories of happenings around them.
There is a picture that has circulated around the web of someone boarding up a building against the onslaught of a hurricane, and the only problem was that they put the boards on the inside of the windows. I guess at least the building will still have something covering the openings after the windows break.
Another situation that has been argued both ways is whether you should open your windows during either a hurricane or a tornado. I have heard interesting arguments on both sides of that issue. I don't think there is a true consensus on the subject, so I won't bother listing the reasons for either side. I do have a bit of anecdotal evidence that might lead to the conclusion that windows should be opened. Many years ago, well I think it was 1995, we had a tornado pass through here. We had a closed in back porch that had two walls covered in windows. The windows were closed, because someone had painted them closed years before and no one had bothered to free them. Anyway, We were watching TV and all of a sudden there was a huge crash of thunder and the TV went to snow. I figured it was either a lightning strike or maybe the preamp had blown out. I didn't think much about it, and went and did something else. I went into the kitchen and the range hood fan was blowing like mad. And it was not turned on. I walked out on the back porch and the entire east wall was hanging off its foundation at about a thirty degree angle in mid air the air pressure from the inside of the house had been so much higher that it had to go somewhere, and it took the wall away from its support. There were trees down all over the neighborhood and when I looked out front, our TV tower was spread out on the lawn and the antenna was all curled up into spirals. What a mess we had.
The bottom line is that you shouldn't take nature for granted. Be prepared and have some sort of plan for emergencies. I'm done. I know I know, another rant. So sue me.
I want more chapters!