After reorganizing his tackle box and hanging his fishing rods in the garage, Ennis DeVeaux removes his sopping wet socks and drapes them on the potbellied stove to dry. He then dumps the remains of his sunbleached cooler into the sink with an effortless splash and surveys his bounty. Today’s catch is mediocre – two trouts, two drums and a single redspotted sunfish – but the beer stayed cold and he left the boat feeling more relaxed than he had in weeks. So relaxed, in fact, that he wasn’t even mad when he got back to shore 30 minutes ago to find his house flooded with two inches of murky water. While many people in the neighborhood are wary of the constantly rising shore line, Ennis believes that he knows the area better than anyone else. “Ain’t no climate change,” he whispers to himself. “Just another high tide.”
Trudging back into the living room, Ennis’ toes squish through the sopping wet carpet beneath his feet. His patient wife, Lulu, has insisted for years that they get the chunky carpet removed and find something less prone to water damage. But Ennis prefers convenience over comfort, and boy oh boy is it a pain in the keister to replace wall-to-wall carpet. “This’ll dry out when the tide goes down,” he thinks to himself. “And it might even look a little cleaner, too. Won’t Lulu be pleased as punch!”
The part-time fisherman screws on a drunken smile and plops down on the loud, floral ottoman. A small wave splashes out underneath him as he rolls the cuffs of his pants a little bit higher. Seems like the water gained a couple inches on him since taking off his socks – hooboy. The TV remote floats by his left ankle and Ennis wonders if the batteries are too wet to work. He reminds himself to change out the remote’s wet batteries with some dry ones when he gets a moment. Perhaps swapping the ones from the smoke detector in the hallway will do. “Ain’t no need to worry about fire when your furniture’s all wet,” he crows as the remote disappears under the soggy coffee table.
Ennis stands up and trots down the hallway. The marsh water sloshes around his knees, making each step a meager work-out for his raggedy old legs. His body doesn’t operate quite as smoothly as it used to. Lulu keeps tellin’ him to join a gym or take a boxing class or something. But he’s pretty content with his health just the way it is. “My ticker works and my hands can still hold the dang fishing rod, so why get all fussed up about nothin,” he constantly replies. Perhaps she’ll lay off him when she sees how good a workout he’s getting in all this water. Nature’s Gym, he’ll call it!
Ennis reaches the phone in the den and dials up his buddy, Raymond, to ask if he can borrow the wet vac. Raymond picks up on the other end, but all his words sound like they’re coming from underwater. “Glub glub glub,” Raymond chokes. “Yeah, glub glub glub to you too, Ray,” Ennis jokes in return. He tries to start a casual conversation, but Raymond’s watery silence becomes tiresome. Perhaps he’ll try to call Raymond back later when the phone line is dry. Better yet, he’ll take the truck over there when the tide goes down and they can wet vac each other’s floors over a couple of beers.
The doorbell rings and Ennis doggy paddles over. A scrawny scientist steps down from a rowboat and waves politely through the crack in the door. Without so much as a howdy, he launches into a tirade about the rising sea levels blah blah blah. “You need to get the hell out of here, sir, because this neighborhood is in the flood zone and everything will soon be underwater.” Ennis impatiently slams his door in the guy’s face and doggy paddles away in a huff. “If I wanted a scientist to boss me around, I woulda gone to school” he hollers between exasperated swim strokes. At least that little know-it-all will get sucked out to sea when the tide goes down.
“Maybe gettin’ into some dry clothes will help my mood,” Ennis ponders as he breaststrokes into the bedroom. The faded tank top he’s currently wearing is his favorite shirt, despite being soaked through with muddy water. Lulu wants him to replace most of his clothes, but it’s hard to give up things when you’re already used to them. He climbs onto their creaky bed, which now floats three feet off the ground, and changes into a dry shirt. “It’s a damn shame “science” hasn’t invented a shirt that can stay dry all the time,” he jokes while submerging himself back into the surging flood. Now wouldn’t that be a hoot!
A loud hiss rumbles from the back porch. Ennis built that porch with his bare hands 12 years ago and it’s always been his favorite napping spot. He backstrokes his way down the hallway, past the bedroom, through the den, over the submerged dining room table and into the mudroom. After gazing through the top half of their stained glass door, Ennis watches a 12-foot alligator casually swim laps above his favorite napping chair. In all fairness, it’s a pretty great napping chair – even underwater. “That gator will only be there until the water recedes” he convinces himself. And wasn’t Lulu just saying how she wished they had a pet?
Peering out the window, Ennis watches as Carl and Lisa Holland careen down main street on a makeshift raft. Carl seems fine with it, but Lisa definitely seems to be in an uppity huff. He thinks about tossing Carl a cold one, but figures he probably has his own stash of beer somewhere on their raft. Deke Williams and Lester Clayton also float past with their belongings in tow. Nice to see the neighbors all getting along and enjoying the spoils of living by the water.
Ennis lets out a sigh, but his mouth accidentally fills with cold, swampy water. The framed portrait of him and Lulu, taken at their 10 year anniversary party, floats past Ennis’ head with a sense of panic. As he treads water in his own home, Ennis’ tuckered body begins to wonder when Lulu will be back from visiting her mama in Baton Rouge. Sunday is always pot roast night, and all this swimming back and forth is making his stomach growl.
“Well,” Ennis sputters, “at least the fishing will be pretty glub glub glub.”
With a fatigued gasp, Ennis’ head dips beneath the rising water and disappears entirely. “Ain’t no climate change,” he tells himself. “Just another high tide.”
Written by Brooks Morrison with artwork by Nicole Monk and voiced by Matt Soson