Friday, June 29, 2012

An afternoon

He emerged from a refrigerator into an oven.

"Now this," he said out loud, "is hot."

Looking at the weather app on his phone, the temperature read 102 in red. Funnily enough, he enjoyed the blistering heat nearly as much as the blissfully cold environs of the coffee house.

It had been a cleansing afternoon.

Words exchanged, steam released.

He provided a sounding board, his pal equally amenable ... he hoped.

"The scary thing is everything that was left out," he thought wearily as he got into his stifling car, reflecting on the biting tome that he had just written -- so heavy with angst. "To be continued, I guess."

He fired up the ol' reliable, the AC immediately kicking in. Wincing while alternating hands on the sizzling steering wheel and making a three-point turn -- with a wave of acknowledgment to the patient biker, who nodded amicably in courteous reciprocation -- he powered the car forward and steered toward home.

Buzzing from the pair of 20 oz. iced lattes now unobstructively coursing their way, he turned the volume up on the classic rock radio station as he weaved in, out and around the late-afternoon rush hour traffic.

Van Halen's "Jump."

Right song. Right time.

He turned the volume up, mouthing the lyrics under his breath while merging effortlessly onto the jam-packed interstate.

As he drove, he felt as if it might be getting darker. Removing his sunglasses, he saw that it was.

"Oh my God!" She had written earlier. "All of a sudden, like tornado force winds and rain! Breaking things off the trees and stuff. Yikes."

He was amusingly envious then. Now realizing the possibility of his own biggin' comin', he felt a little adrenaline take over. As if to oblige the darkening skies, "Jump" faded out.

Fade In: "Carry On Wayward Son."

As the skies darkened, his spirits lightened, with the piano doing its job unfailingly. It wasn't yet cold enough in the car for the goosebumps.

Having pulled to a stop at a light, a minivan pulled alongside. As he glanced over, he noticed her.

She in her 40's or so. 

He, not quite. 

As he mouthed the words to Kansas, he realized she was doing the same, with the force of her AC blowing her dark blonde hair back.

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
I can hear them say!

Laughing to himself as he watched her, they both continued:

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done

She looked over, met his eyes and her own recognition set in. Smiling brilliantly and bobbing her head, she patted the steering wheel in rhythm, and they capped it off to each other:

Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more!

The light changed. They turned in opposite directions without a wave. 

Two paths that fleetingly crossed.

Two paths that will never cross again.

His path took him headlong into a sky that thrillingly began to reveal a deep, dark blue as he approached home. The wind kicked up several notches, the traffic signals blowing threateningly back and forth. A tornado of leaves and twigs circulating with force as heavy gray-black clouds coiled and recoiled with menace.

"I'll be damned," he thought as he turned into his parking lot. He dodged a number of flying branches and fought to keep his balance in the gusting wind as he rescued his mail and opened the door to his apartment.

He put his bag and mail down and went to the refrigerator. 

Grabbed a cold Summer Shandy.

Popped the top.

And made a beeline for his patio out back.

He sat outside, watching the dark clouds swirl and the canopy of trees over his head bow and sway, while the lights flickered inside as the power fought to stay on.

The weather app on his phone showed that he was on the fringe of a bloated, deep red mass that drifted east, large enough to connect him to those he knows up north.

Enough to be out of danger.

Enough to enjoy.

He sat and let his weary head rest, feeling the temperature drop refreshingly by the second, the scent of rain in the air.

And as a bolt of lightning flashed and the ominous rumble of approaching thunder followed, he closed his eyes and drifted with the wind.

"Don't you cry no more," he thought acquiescently, as he took a pull of his brew and the first ice-cold raindrops began to fall.

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