Tuesday teaser: New Orleansland

An excerpt from the post-Katrina novel

By Alan Citron

The forecast grew worse by the hour. Katrina was a Category Five storm with winds of more than 175 miles per hour and steady sheets of rain. It was edging ever closer to the mouth of the Mississippi River, the lifeline of the shipping industry. Landfall was expected by daybreak. Most of the city was supposed to be evacuated but Tookie noticed more than a few folks peering through windows and when he finally reached his mama’s neighborhood.

Like him, they would ride out the storm.

Tookie pulled into his mama’s driveway and scurried inside as fast as his spindly legs would carry him, buffeted by the cascading wind and rain. The lights were already flickering, a sure sign that the power would go out before long, and the wind hissed through the cracks in the boarded up windows. His own place was nearby, on Urquhart Street, but he was more concerned with protecting his mama’s. Ever since his daddy died, she had turned the ratty old shotgun house into a shrine to him and the Sweet Lord Jesus.

Tookie sat down at his mama’s small yellow formica-topped kitchen table and ran through his emergency checklist. Battery operated transistor radio. Check. Candles. Check. Flashlights. Check. Canned food. Check. Bunsen burner portable stove. Check. Shotgun. Check. Beer. Check, baby.

The radio was on. Reporters phoned in from all over with updates on the weather and the evacuations. One of them said “thousands” of residents had refused to leave or take shelter in the Superdome. Well, now they were on their own. There were no options left. Soon the power went off and the house turned into a hot box.

The air felt thick like syrup, thick enough to suffocate a man. Tookie sat and listened to the transistor radio in the dark, rubbing a cold bottle of Dixie beer bottle against his sweaty brow. For all he knew it would be the last cold Dixie he would hold for a long while. His breaths came low and slow as he savored his last cold brew.

The whistling wind became a roar as the leading edge of the storm edged closer. It rattled the ceramic nativity figures that Tookie’s mama kept on the mantle year-round. Rain clicked on the roof like pellets, and the swaying sound of trees ravaged by wind gave way to branches popping off like fireworks. Then there came a thud so hard that Tookie nearly jumped out of his skin. Probably a toppled tree limb or light post but who knew? It was always the unfamiliar sounds that rattled your cage during a ‘cane.

. . .

He had to take a leak like nobody’s business. Using the flashlight, Tookie made his way to the toilet, the old wood floors creaking under his feet. He took a good long piss, aiming as best he could. He was holding himself up with one hand propped against the wall and shaking himself off with the other when he first heard the gushing sound. His eyes were closed because his head hurt so damn bad. Oh, man. Was the toilet on the fritz again?

Tugie opened his eyes just in time to see first cascade of water and mud crash into the bathroom, carrying a bitch’s brew of debris. The sound and fury enveloped him; the force of it knocked him to the floor. His mouth fell open and he tasted the foul liquid.

“Sweet Jesus!” he cried, what a way to go.

New Orleansland

New Orleansland by Alan Citron cover

A post-Katrina novel

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an entertainment conglomerate tries to turn New Orleans into a theme park.

Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author

Author Alan Citron

Alan Citron is former journalist who became an unlikely Internet executive.

Citron began his career at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where he covered a variety of beats. He subsequently spent 13 years at The Los Angeles Times. His last position there was assistant business editor for entertainment. Citron also authored a twice-weekly entertainment column called Company Town.

Citron left journalism in 1995, when the Internet boom was starting. He was the founding president of Ticketmaster Online. When Barry Diller bought Ticketmaster, Citron became president of Diller’s USA Networks Interactive.

Real Networks next hired Citron to start its music service, MusicNet. He later ran marketing for Movielink, an early download service owned by five of the major studios, until Warner Bros. and AOL recruited him to help launch TMZ, where Citron was instrumental in charting the success of the web site and the TV show.

More recently, Citron was business lead for entertainment at Yahoo and general manager of The Wrap. He also served as executive vice president of Red Carpet Home Cinema, which licensed first-run movies for rental in customer’s homes.

Throughout his business career, Citron continued to pursue his love of writing. He wrote op-ed pieces for The Wall Street Journal and Daily Variety. Citron also authored a novel, New Orleansland, about an entertainment conglomerate’s scheme to turn New Orleans into a theme park in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

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