Fourteen hours later, an exhausted Natalie drove herself and her parents through the darkened streets of Port Lewis (Peggy had stayed home with Daisy that night). As was the case with all coastal towns and cities, a blackout was in effect; street lights were left off, people were required to have shades and curtains drawn. Automobile headlights were covered except for narrow slits – barely enough to see at night. It was necessary to travel slowly in the dark.
The Greenbaum family sedan was virtually the only motor vehicle out at 2:30 AM as it traveled along Bayshore Boulevard. Natalie's fatigued eyes were fixed firmly on the road ahead as her aging parents dozed in the back seat.
She saw the explosion before she heard it.
A second later, the force of the concussion pushed the vehicle sideways. Had Natalie not been traveling as slowly as she had, she would have lost control of the car altogether.
“What's happening?” asked Emmaline, suddenly awake.
“I don't know,” said Natalie, stepping on the gas pedal and causing the car to leap ahead. It was none too soon; right behind them was another explosion. “I've got to get us out of here!” Natalie said, speeding ahead into the darkness.
Over the roar of the engine, they heard sirens. Looking out the back window, Emmaline and Isaac saw spotlights from shore-based civil defence installations – and the sound of gunfire.
Operating on some kind of instinct, Natalie drove hell-bent for leather, taking the first turn off the highway that ran along the perimeter of Lewis Bay. She continued hurtling along the back streets, not stopping until they arrived home safely.
She had not had time to get frightened – but once she had pulled into the driveway alongside the house and shut down the engine, she started shaking.
Isaac and Emmaline were stunned. Nobody said anything for several minutes. Finally, Emmaline asked, “Are you all right, Nattie?”
Natalie nodded. Finally, she said, “Let's go inside.”
Isaac nodded. “I think we could all use a drink.”
Emmaline, who rarely drank any alcohol beyond an occasional glass of wine, also nodded. Reaching from the back seat, she placed a hand on her daughter's trembling shoulder. “Come on, baby girl...lets make you a hot toddy and get you to bed.”
Natalie simply nodded once more.