The sky was clear, the temperature had dropped and the first frost had arrived; the town viewed from the hill looked beautiful. The water sparkled under the full moon and the roofs and tops of trees formed a colourful pattern, but Joe prayed for high tides and rain again, hoped the river would continue rising and the water would stay. Joe wasn’t his real name; it was one of half a dozen he had given to people at the community centre.
Now it was time to get back before everyone settled down for the night. He greeted a couple of women, then tiptoeing past sleeping children, headed for the kitchen to help with the evening round of cocoa and coffee. His volunteer badge had been borrowed off someone’s jacket. In the confusion of the last week many people were strangers to each other and with his helpful and cheerful manner Joe had made new friends. Truth to tell, Joe had no friends in this town until the storms and floods. Before it featured in the news, the little town was just another anonymous place in Joe’s wanderings around the country.
When tedious officials came round form filling Joe told them he had been sleeping on a friend’s sofa, gave a false name and address for the mythical friend, then changed into a different outfit from the collection of clothes donated by kind residents lucky enough to live on the hill. It was a long time since he had been so warm and comfortable.
Now he had a fantasy; houses took for ever to dry out, especially in winter. Lots of people would go to relatives, or be given emergency accommodation, priority to families and the elderly he presumed. But he hoped enough people would be left to keep the community centre open till Christmas. Perhaps he could learn to cook, help prepare a Christmas dinner….