“Saving Fats”

Beguiling post-Katrina story-telling

HUMANITIES, March/April 2011, Volume 32, Number 2

Permission to write also comes up in Sam Shepard’s latest book, Day out of Days, a collection of short stories that offers one incredible tale told by a friend of Fats Domino’s bodyguard about saving the legendary musician from his rooftop during the floods after Hurricane Katrina. The teller of the tale is the narrator’s garrulous seat companion on a flight to St. Paul on “Day 52,” as in “since the flood. Fifty-two days wandering the country in a Dodge van with nothing but what he had hastily thrown into it as he fled the city of his birth.” The story appears in the Winter 2010–11 issue of Louisiana Cultural Vistas, the publication of the state’s humanities council.

Not only did the passenger help save the famed songwriter while aboard a cigarette boat, he claims, he helped rope in his water-logged Steinway as well. The narrator can’t help asking, finally, “Did all that stuff actually happen? I mean with Fats—saving Fats Domino. Or did you just—kind of dream it all up?” The elusive answer beguiles as much as the firmly grounded drama of the story itself.