Thursday, June 24, 2010

“Planet Rain” by CC Long

The 747 rolled into the birth and he heard the mantra, “Set doors to manual.” He looked out the window through the rain that pounded the standing water on the Heathrow tarmac. He waited for the familiar ding to release him from his seat belt and the purgatory of having to sit next to Carl Taylor for seven long hours, talking incessantly about money, money and more money. Carl was an investment banker or DMV (dead man walking) thanks to the latest economic crisis everybody in finance was hated and deserved to die. Ding. The Upper Class section clicked open their belts and rose in unison outfitted with bags and coats given back to them by the Virgin Air host and hostesses. Freedom was in sight.

A song familiar to him filled the restlessness of the wait. Air weary passengers queued for the door receiving fast track vouchers from the blond stewardess that his fantasy had lain bare during intermissions of talk of a bad stock market, malfeasance and yields one way or the other, not to mention the world wide monetary crisis, the Yen’s bleeding and the devaluation of the Pound. Vedder incanted, “Don’t you think you ought to rest. Don’t you think you ought to lay your head down tonight...” The lyrics to a Pearl Jam song, All Those Yesterdays, that his oldest daughter had turned him onto from the album, Yield.

The cabin door opened and a mellow waft of airport air mixed with the regenerated staleness of the cabin. He took his first step toward the door but was held back by a firm shoulder grab from behind. “Nice to meet you, Adam.” Carl put his hand out to shake and he responded in kind.

“You too,” he answered, as Carl stepped in front of him and escaped through the cabin door.

Carl called back over his shoulder, “Don’t forget Cheadle Industries,” an insider’s tip he had mentioned earlier that he would totally ignore because there was no insider information that could help anyone these days. He tried to respond but Carl was gone.

He decided to take his time down the corridors of Heathrow. He wrestled for a cigarette from his coat pocket. It dangled unlit from his mouth. He did not want to meet Carl again in passport control and then be laden with him at baggage control. He couldn’t take it. There was good reason anybody in finance was hated. Yes, everything was about money especially when you needed more. Seven hours of high density financial speak had made him very weary and somewhat depressed.

He walked slowly on the moving walkway holding his briefcase by the tips of fingers looking through the floor to ceiling windows at the deluge that was washing them. The sound was a strange water chant. He had left sixty-degree spring-like weather in New York but he was glad to be here, nonetheless. He had been traveling to London frequently in the last five years, shuttling advertising for Pantene shampoo from the New York to London. Shampoo was the name of the game brought to you by your good friends at Proctor and Gamble.

Passport control with a fast track voucher was too fast. Much to his chagrin he saw Carl still waiting for his luggage slashing through an edition of the International Herald Tribune. He looked up at him and waved him over. “Look at this, Microsoft is at eighteen bucks and Brazil is devaluing its currency not to mention Obama’s remarks,” he said relatively upset, business speak flowing from him like Niagara Falls. He folded the paper rough shod and barely taking a breath, asked, “Where are you staying?”

“The Halcyon,” he said, searching the moving turnstile for his bag.

“Holland Park? A little small for me.” Carl smiled.

“I like small.” He watched the luggage chugging around on the conveyer belt. He did not see his bag and prayed Carl’s was there.

“No health club,” Carl said, reaching down for a black leather soft suitcase.

“I’m not healthy,” he answered, pointing to the unlit cigarette.

Carl laughed and adjusted himself to the new weight. “Well, nice meeting you, again,” he finally farewelled.

“Yes, and thanks for the tip,” he lied.

Carl held one finger to his lips, winked and moved away through the immigration’s doorway.

He watched his brown leather bag approach him on the conveyer belt. He let it go around again.

He reported to the Virgin Air limousine desk and gave his name. He was approached by an older gentleman sporting a very impressive handlebar mustache. “Can I take your bag?” he asked, reaching for and grabbing it. He for no known reason gave resistance causing a slight wrestling match with the driver. “Let me do my job, governor,” the driver said, irritated, snatching the bag away.

Somewhat puzzled he followed the driver to the elevator up to the parking garage, where he waited for him to retrieve the car. He lit the cigarette and took the purposeful drags of a smokeless hiatus. His smoking doubled as soon as he landed in London. It was all about freedom. The driver returned in a Range Rover as he finished his cigarette. He lit a second as the driver came to take his bag. “Can I smoke?” he asked.

The driver nodded affirmatively, a now extinct gesture in the US. He lit the cigarette as he opened the door and slid into the leather-upholstered seat. He cracked the window and enjoyed the feel of the damp cool air. His smoke funneled out without restraint. As soon as they left the garage a deluge soaked the car and dampened his jacket, but he didn’t roll up the window. The Rover sprayed rooster tails from both back wheels. The window wipers moved in marvelous syncopation. It was raining very hard but the premium range all terrain-vehicle moved through it smoothly.

“Nice weather,” he said loud enough for the driver to hear, breaking the subtle tension from the earlier wrestling match. He finished his cigarette.

“Tell me about it. This here is the fortieth day of rain. Down right biblical,” the driver lamented, “That’s probably why I’m a little touchy. Sorry about that.”

“I thought you were just doing your job,” he said diplomatically, opening the ashtray and snuffing the butt. “It’s been raining for forty days and forty nights?”

“Close mate, not constantly but a little rain every day. It’s diabolical.” He let out a giddy nervous laugh.

He sat back not liking his entry so far. Relax, you’re back in London, he told himself.

He watched the M40 float by, a myriad of cars all driving down the wrong side of the river. Sheets of rain blew against the windows. He closed his eyes just to hear it pound, but the thought of ‘rough hair’ disturbed his ablutionary auditory.

‘Rough hair’ was the root of the most recent critical meltdown on the Pantene business. ‘Rough hair’ was why P&G was spending thousands of dollars to fly him over. His, and the agency’s opinion, was that nobody describes or wants their hair described as rough. Rough hair? The absurdity of his life.

He was alone, divorced with two daughters at UCLA. He was paying for that and everything else his ex-wife could legally coerce him to pay for, including enough alimony to feed a small village forever. He made over a quarter of million dollars a year and he didn’t have a penny to spare. He had just turned forty-five and things were getting no better. He lived in a cheap studio apartment around the corner from Gramercy Park and ate a lot of take out Chinese food. He wanted out of his life but there was no escape, except these trips to London.

He arrived at the Halcyon Hotel off Holland Park Avenue. It was a Victorian mansion peach colored with white trim converted into a homey but elegant hotel. The rain had let up and he dodged a slow drizzle from the Range Rover door to the black baroque cast iron awning over the doorway of the main entrance. He checked in without any hassles and undressed in front of the TV set watching an Arsenal versus Manchester United football match, smoking another cigarette. He held the remote surfing the sky TV channel log barely glancing at the programs that swam by in multi languages. After flying through all one hundred and fifteen channels he turned it off.

He lay down on the bed and looked out at the gray day through the pulled back green and white paisley ceiling to floor drapes. He took a final drag from his fag and put it out. He closed his eyes to see if there was any inkling of sleep in his body. Lights blinked in his closed eyes. He felt the firm bed against his bareback.

His thoughts drifted back to the fantasy stewardess. She looked a lot like Princess
Diana. Which made him remember that fatal day and the week after. He was in London then, too. On the day of her funeral with the haunting procession. He had gone to a masseuse of the non-professional variety to try to blur it out. He was quite depressed that day but not as depressed as the French beauty who massaged him. She wept for Diana as she massaged him, her tears mixing with the baby oil.

‘Rough hair’ popped back into his head. He sat up straight and went to his opened bag and pulled out a pair of khaki pants and a blue shirt. He put on some black Doc Martins and a light rust colored anorak. He looked at himself in the mirror, his hair in dire need of a cut, his eyes itchy red with dark circles below. He was six foot tall and shrinking. He thought himself ugly. The blues were invading. He needed a margarita.

It had stopped raining but the dampness permeated the duller than gray day. He walked up Holland Park Avenue; the ancient Roman road that runs through the center of London, changing as it goes from Holland Park Avenue to Notting Hill to Bayswater to Oxford Street splitting at Holborn and annexing the City. Century old white maples that line both sides of the avenue were pruned like amputees with sapling branches and leaves spraying out of their severations, unrolling in the warm dampness. Spring was in full swing, clearly a month or more ahead of New York. The smell of jasmine, lilac and honeysuckle from the myriad of walled hidden gardens he walked beside made the moisture rich and perfumed the dampness. He heard the distant howl of a peacock in Holland Park. He lit a cigarette and walked up Notting Hill, feeling the standing dew against his face. It was dot matrix rain, not falling just there. It was hard to keep his cigarette lit. He was soaking wet before he reached Ladbroke Grove. He quickened his step to the top of the hill and Nachos, a Mexican bar and restaurant.

He frequented Nachos when he was in town. It was by far the best margarita in London. The food was fair and the help was worth watching. Two young women in particular had struck his fancy, a Swedish bartender that looked anything but Swedish. She was dark and wicked cool. Her name was Tara. She wanted to be an artist and was traveling the world to see if she was. Quick, smart and sarcastic, she had a definite opinion on most everything. The other girl, Karreen was a waitress and an aspiring dancer from South Africa, ‘currently performing at all the clubs throughout London and vicinity,’ she joked. They were both fun loving and about the age of his oldest daughter. He enjoyed their banter almost as much as he enjoyed his margarita.

The bar area was mustard yellow and authentically decorated with Mexican bric a brac. The large picture windows provided expansive views of Notting Hill. He entered and took a napkin from a cocktail table to wipe his brow. He put out his cigarette. Hip-hop music grooved from the sound system. Tara was behind the bar, a myriad of tequila bottles glowing silver and gold filling shelves towering behind her. She turned and smiled through a grimace. Her hair was a long black mane tied straight up in a ponytail with a paisley necktie. She wore an orange Lacoste shirt that was shrunk so small her medium sized erect nipples were in full view. It was hard not to look at them.

“Hello doctor,” she said, using the nickname she had given him for no known reason, pronouncing her English more American than British, “the usual?”

He nodded, shaking out his coat and hanging it on the back of the tall bar stool. “Nice day if it doesn’t rain,” he quipped.

She surprised him with a scathing glance and kept looking at him askance as she made the margarita. She shook the shaker harder than need be, pounded it on the bar, and poured it into the salted rim margarita glass. She carried it to him never changing her acrimonious stare. She placed the drink in front of him and shook her head slowly. He was baffled; should he apologize for looking at her nipples?

“You don’t understand. It’s not a joke anymore. We now officially live on the Planet Rain. It has rained here for forty days and forty nights. Forty days and forty fucking nights! Everything is different here now. It’s not the same London you left. It’s not cool Britannia anymore. Its wet, very wet and people are losing their minds.” She was serious. Her eyes were blazing brown and unwavering. She let out a very soft whimper.

“And am I looking at one of those people?” He joked.

She smiled slightly, shook her head wearily and walked away.

He sipped on his margarita and watched her walk away on platform tennis shoes that made her at least three inches taller. Her black pants were a synthetic stretch material that clung to her like skin. Her hair fountained from her head. She was a visual paradise.

He looked out across Notting Hill at where the infamous restaurant and bar, The Pharmacy, that Damien Hirst had designed, used to be. He liked that place. Now, Damien was auctioning off his own work and making millions. Who would have thought, making millions making art. “I miss The Pharmacy,” he said.

“Yeah, right,” she said sarcastically, standing across the bar from him, looking out as a sheet of wind full with rain whipped the scene. She looked at her watch and then stamped her feet. “Noah was fucking lucky! He had an ark to flee the flood. All we get is seeping in. Dampness that permeates the ether; you breathe it, you taste it, you look through it. It’s nature’s version of the Chinese water torture test.” She looked outside at the rain that pelted the windows and road and she laughed a tortured laugh.

Karreen, the South African dancer, walked up with tray in hand and smiled at him.

“She’s not boring you with her Planet Rain rant is she?” she asked, eyeing Tara suspiciously.

He nodded.

“To much E,” she mouthed. The party girls often partook in the ecstasy scene on their clubbing adventures.

“I heard that! And my extracurricular skooby snack ingestion has nothing to do with this! Look outside girl! It’s fucking raining!” She choked out a whine. “I’m going rain insane!” She turned into a limp rope her head dropping to her waist like a rag doll.

“All I want to do is cry and I can’t,” she whimpered, pulling her torso up.

“Don’t start rambling on about your theory on crying, I need two golden margaritas,” Karreen ordered.

“Make that three,” he added, wondering what ricochet she was going to pelt him with next.

“You can’t cry on Planet Rain,” she moaned, trudging through her duties of mixing the margaritas. “You can’t because there’s no tears, all the moisture is outside. We are dry. Try to cry. I have, I can’t. I’ve pricked myself with needles. No tears. There are no tears on the planet and that changes everything. No release from the hurt, the frustration, the fear. It all wells up in the dry cavern in your soul and every attempt to cry is met with the most excruciating feeling of remorse and searing pain that turns your guts cold and hard. A slow painful strangulation that tortures the essence of your being. Try to cry, I dare you. You can’t! Nobody can.” She shook the margarita shaker and the put it down on the bar softly.

Karreen lifted an eyebrow. “I think you should take a couple of aspirins and call me in the morning, honey,” she said, breaking the ice. Tara put the two margaritas on her tray just staring at her until she left. She carried the third to him.

“So when did you arrive from the land of the free and the home of the brave and the country with a black President ?” She changed gears like a Ferrari.

“About four hours ago.” He licked some salt off the rim of the glass.

“You Americans have it made don’t you, ruling the world an all? What was the weather like when you left the Big Apple?”

“Do you really want me to tell you?”

She nodded a put me out of my misery nod.

“When I left it was sixty degrees Fahrenheit and sunny,” he said, taking a large drink of the citrus ambrosia, preparing for the worse.

She chuckled in an eerie way, sounding suspiciously similar to the laugh of the driver when he mentioned the weather. Maybe everybody was going insane here he thought.

She raised her hand to the window that was now being cascaded by rain. “It’s always sunny in America,” she lamented, looking at it.

“Not always, haven’t you heard of El Nino?”

“No, I’m from Mars,” she smiled wryly.

“So how long are you here for doctor?” she asked, down shifting again.

“A week, I wish longer,” he answered, letting the margarita chill his throat.

“Stay longer in the rain? Wow, that’s a great idea. I like that. You have sixty-degree weather and sunshine to go back to! Go! Go! Are you crazy? If you aren’t now and stay around here, you will be!” She shook her head.

“Being crazy?” he paused and then continued sadly whimsical, “That sounds like a good change. Better than what’s available for me in New York. Depression, frustration, irritation not to mention disillusionment, desolation and desperation.” He stopped himself, feeling all of the above simmer in him. He remained silent, drinking his margarita. He felt embarrassed. He finished his margarita and looked up at Tara standing in front of him, staring.

“Let me warn you now, Planet Rain is not the place to come to get away from those things. It is the place you come to die from them,” she spoke softly and seriously.

“Thanks for the warning,” he said hesitantly, mulling over her words not knowing what to think. He put a ten-pound note on the bar.

“No, thank you,” Tara said, pushing the tenner back at him. “They’re on me. Your money is no good here.”

He looked at her and nodded politely taking the ten-pound note and stuffing it in his front pant’s pocket. He dug out two pounds and placed them on the bar. He stood putting his trench coat back on and raised the collar.

“Here.” She handed him a white baseball cap with, Planet Rain, emblazoned on it in fluorescent red felt pen.

“You even have your own hats,” he said, looking at the vibrant scrawl.

“It will protect you,” she said.

“You’re generosity is overwhelming,” he said, putting it on.

“I feel sorry for you, being here now in your state,” she intoned.

Her words made him feel strange and laugh a queer laugh he had never heard himself laugh before, sounding much like the eerie chortles he had recognized earlier of both the driver and Tara. Something was different here. Something was changed. He shook his head and left the bar without saying goodbye or thank you.

The day was even grimmer. It was not raining but he heard distant thunder. People hunched over fighting gusts looked like lost gnomes. He walked on, letting the wind almost take the hat and then he caught it and pushed it back on. He walked across Kensington Church Street and onward past the crumbling Russian Embassy. He walked briskly but with no purpose or place in mind just trying to rid him of the feeling.

At the Lion’s Gate at the northwest corner of Kensington Hyde Park he walked into the park pausing to look at Kensington Palace. He remembered being here when it was surrounded by an ocean size moat of flowers left by mourners for Diana. He had been in London for the entire week and had experienced the epoch of grief. The gongs of the bells of Westminster Abbey on the day of the funeral still echoed in his mind. It was strange how the whole thing had affected him even though he never considered himself a big Di fan. It was a mass mourning contagion that no one escaped. He stood remembering, looking at the palace, drinking in the damp moisture of the park. He lit another cigarette.

He walked on up the northern walkway paralleling Bayswater Road. Daffodils and rising tulips filled the grassy knolls under the mammoth trees. He reached The Fountains at the end of the Long Water of the Serpentine. It was a myriad of rising water, cresting and falling. He listened to the splashing din. The water rose from ancient urns that sprayed into a large elaborately landscaped pond. It was strangely desolate so he moved on spooked. Trudging up Buck Hill Walk across the carriage road that divided Kensington and Hyde Park. He walked with hands in pockets, head down and smoking, cig dangling from his mouth. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere he was startled by the powerful breathing and cantering of a mountainous chestnut horse ridden English saddle by a large man who looked down at him disdainfully. He had cut them off on the bridal trail. The horse reared and made him tremble. He scurried away, his heart pounding from the surprise encounter, cigarette lost and gone. He lit another.

He paid more attention to his surroundings trying to shake the horse scare. The sky shown through with streaks of blue that were quickly covered by moving banks of gray clouds. The large lawns of Hyde Park stretched out in front of him and he could see Marble Arch, Cumberland Gate and a small gathering of people at Speakers’ Corner.

He headed for the bastion of free speech. He had never been there on a Sunday when people came to espouse their opinions, standing on upturned boxes and stepladders.

The first noticeable thing was that almost everyone was talking about religion in one form or another, the second was that because of the rain there was a real lack of tourists viewing the event and the third was that the hecklers were far more interesting than the speakers.

One heckler in particular caught his attention. A short Middle Eastern man with a broken nose that a pugilist might sport, a missing tooth and a scar that looked like a third eyebrow above and between his other two thick black mounds of hair that rose from his brow. His hair was short, black and he could not believe the word came to mind as he looked at the man’s hair; it was ‘rough’. He wore a brown suit jacket that he took off and put back on while he pontificated. His yellowing white shirt was a short sleeve button down. His pants were brown with no belt, his shoes were brown, too.

His hackneyed English boomed out over the small crowd so that everyone’s attention came to him. He was verbally devouring a Latter Day Saint boy who stood in front of a sign that read: Miracle performed at 4:OO. This amused the heckler to no end.

“Four o’clock! I want my miracle now!” He checked his watch. “It’s ten to four. Can’t you give me a miracle now? I want my miracle now!” he ranted, standing in front of the boy who retreated from the heckler’s breath. “Why not now?” he bellowed.

“Not until four o clock” the boy said, pointing at the sign.

“Wait a minute? You’re an American. A red, white and blue blood,” he twanged.

“Where from boy?” he cross-examined.

“Minnesota,” the boy answered nervously.

“Minnesota? The land of a million lakes, huh?” he sniggered, “And you call yourself a Christian. What kind? Aren’t there about a million different types of Christians in the U-S-A?”

The defenseless boy nodded patiently.

The man pushed himself closer, seeming to grow in size versus the boy. He fanned his body odor, making the poster boy step back again. The man knew why the boy was stepping away and attacked the impropriety. “Don’t you like my smell boy? What do you think Jesus Christ smelled like after spending time in the dessert slumming from town to town? What do you think boy? You think he smelt like bloody Fairy liquid? How can a boy from a state with a million lakes know what a dessert god is like? He wasn’t white like you boy. He was like me, ugly, scarred and smelly. I’m from Jerusalem, all-American boy and Jesus Christ wasn’t from America. Your American Jesus Christ does not exist. The real Jesus Christ would rise from the dead if he knew you were his spokesman,” he paused and smirked, “I guess he already did that.”

The crowd was pushing up from behind feeling the tension rise. He watched mesmerized by the heckler. The man’s voice was booming but his rhythms were hypnotic. He felt a push from behind and turned, coming face to face with a blond haired, large breasted woman. “Ta, mate,” she apologized leaning even closer, listening.

He felt her tit against his arm through his coat.

“Do you understand, all American boy? Jesus was not from your land. You killed all the gods in your land when you wiped out the American Indians. You have no gods. Oh, forgive me, you Americans do have one god. Your most powerful and sacred god, money! Money is your god! And you worship it well,” he lambasted the boy.

The boy stood dumb and immobile.

The man tapped his watch a couple of times and then looked up into the sky. “Well the time is here, where is my miracle? Change some water into wine, Minnesotan. Show me your miracle.” At that instant another bright and shiny American boy stepped forward out of the crowd that had circled. He put down a small stepladder and climbed its three steps. The Middle Eastern man stood back gesturing grandly in mocking condensation.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the boy greeted the crowd.

“I’m no gentleman unless turning me into one is your idea of a miracle,” the heckler clowned.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please. We come to you because we believe in the power of prayer creates miracles. We want you to join with us in prayer,” the Latter Day Saint preached.

A guttural roar came from the heckler. Then he spat out the words: “Prayer! Prayer! Let me see here, you’re facing northwest. I guess that is where Minnesota is but I assure you there’s no god that is going to perform a miracle for a begging boy! Here,” he said, stepping forward and flipping a fifty pence coin to the boy who watched it rise above his head and hit the sidewalk below. “Well there it is ladies and gentlemen! The miracle that these boys promised. An American who doesn’t love money.” He laughed in a maniacal loud cackle that made the crowd laugh guardedly. Then he turned from the boys and looked into the crowd. Brown crazy eyes leaped from the heckler’s face. He looked at him and held his stare and then turned back to the boy and magic all descended to his prior dwarf self and walked off mumbling, “Miracle, miracle.”

As the heckler moved on looking for his next mark, the small crowd followed him leaving the boy on the ladder smiling incomprehensibly. He moved away too, the woman with the breasts had backed away from him and he watched her as she moved as quickly as the crowd would allow toward the Marble Arch roundabout. Her breasts bounced recklessly. Then he felt it, or the lack of it. He had been robbed! Pick pocketed by the big-breasted bitch.

He panicked and jumped trying get a better view of where the woman was going. He lost sight of her and then saw her hailing a cab on the roundabout. He ran in full sprint to her, losing the hat but not stopping to retrieve it. She saw him coming but a cab had stopped and she stepped in. He arrived at the roundabout seconds later and hailed a cab, too.

“Follow that cab,” he ordered and without taking a breath he asked, “Do you have a radio?”

“Sorry mate,” the cab driver looked back, “What happened?”

“That woman stole my wallet,” he said, watching the cab about two blocks ahead. The cab driver stayed steadily behind even through the countless speed bumps, quick turns and roundabouts that London has to offer. After about fifteen minutes of tailing the cab, the driver pointed out it was stopping. “She’s getting out, mate,” he said.

“Get me as close as possible,” he said. The driver brought him to about a half block away from the woman, who was fleeing to a brick apartment block. He jumped out of the cab throwing the ten-pound note he had stuffed in his pocket at Nachos to the driver.

“Watch yourself mate that’s council housing,” the cabby warned.

He ran as fast as he could seeing her turn a corner. It was raining again and he was soaked by the time he got to the corner she had rounded. She was gone. He searched the desolate brick buildings that were state financed tenements. He heard a door open and turned to the noise seeing the woman hurry through. He ran to the entryway and heard her ascending the stairs. He followed her up the stairs three steps at a time catching her on her landing unlocking and opening her door. “Stop!” he yelled, making her freeze for a second allowing him time to make it to the door and slip his foot in the threshold before she closed it. She forced the door against his foot but offered little resistance against his shoulder forced entry. He fell clumsily into the room.

“What do you want?” the woman screamed.

“You stole my wallet!” he yelled back, as what he had just seen flooded back into his mind and it stopped him in his tracks. On the floor were two rag-tag twin girls, four years old at the most with long black hair, staring at him with big brown eyes. Beside them was a mammoth castle built from thousands of credit cards. Mastercards, Visa and American Express holographic stickers glimmered in the dull light.

The woman looked, too and scolded the girls, “I told you not to play with those.”

He stood there mollified by the sight, breathing heavily from his chase.

She turned back to him screaming again, “You better get out of here before he gets here! He’ll kill you!”

“I want my wallet,” he said, wondering who ‘he’ was but surprisingly unfrightened by the threat of death, “and I’m not leaving until I get it.”

The woman growled but dug through her dress that concealed huge pockets where he noticed an array of wallets were deposited. She pulled his out. “Here, and you better leave, now,” she said in a threatening tone, again.

He was dumbfounded. He stood there still in shock, weak with wondering what he should do next, holding his wallet clumsily. He looked at the girls again, who looked at him with accusing eyes. He turned to the door and left closing it behind him. He walked down the stairs trying to make some sense of what he had just seen. He stood at the entryway door looking out at the steady rain. He was sorry he lost the hat. He put his wallet back in his pocket and took some pride in that he had recovered it. He watched as a hunched over figure hurried toward the door. He opened it and the person stepped in and he stepped out only to be stopped by a gnarly hand.

“I know who you are,” the heckler from the park spat, pulling him toward him with titan strength and unloading a spleen splitting punch to his stomach that knocked the wind out of him and made him vomit as he fell out into the muddy square. He spat blood. The rain pounded him as he lay there.

“I never want to see you around here again,” the heckler warned and slammed the door.

He lay in a fetal position, the rain now soaking him in torrents. He heard thunder and felt the nausea of his existence wrenching in his guts. He tried to cry but nothing would come. The pain tore at his temples and turned his guts cold and hard. He screamed as he felt sharp blades of excruciating pain cut through his being. Still there were no tears, no escape from the hurt. He could not cry. He lay there writhing in pain, praying for mercy on Planet Rain.


  1. Wow, that was really good. Thanks for the read!

  2. Another solid story from C.C. Long. Check out his book, "Puget Sound: 15 Stories" if you haven't already.

    "Turkey Shoot" will make you cry.