The Rain Came Quickly


by A.B. Thomas

“Did you deliver the package?” Reg asked as I squishily stomped into the office.

“Yes and no,” I answered sharply before plopping heavily into my chair, “These frickin’ freak rain storms.”

I caught a glimpse of myself in the computer monitor; looked like a drowned rat. I decided that I had to amend the self-appraisal – I looked worse than a drowned rat. The fur of a drowned rat, once dry, would at least fit the rat. My five hundred dollar suit on the other hand with the splotches and splatters of paint along the front had already decided that it wouldn’t wait to dry before shrinking; it must have dropped down two sizes in the thirty seconds I had been inside.

“Yes and no?” Reg asked, breaking out of my Pierre Cardin sulk.

With a sigh I told Reg that I had gotten half way to our boss’s, Mr. Henderson, house with his forty thousand dollar Neville Nubnibbler original painting anniversary present for his wife, Lori, when the rain had snuck up on me. It was bad enough knowing that a person who didn’t fully cover his mouth when they sneezed could release the little volume of liquid necessary to ruin my suit but my brand new Lexus coupe had decided that it wasn’t going to wait for me to do a deep cleaning of its interior and had taken up the cause by refusing to let the top, which I had down because I was silly enough to believe the weather channel’s assurances of a ‘clear and warm day” at par, roll back into position.

To make matters worse, halfway up their driveway the car got stuck in a deep trench that the flash flooding of the downpour had hidden from my sight and I had to grab the painting, whose protective cover had been breeched by my stickshift and run to the house. I had just rung the door bell when I noticed the giant gash in the paper. I really didn’t think of my actions before hand otherwise I wouldn’t have instinctively tried to dry the painting by patting it with my suit before the door opened. Dumb move on my part.

When Lori Henderson opened the door she wasn’t presented with Nubnibbler’s “Barrack Obama as Lady Godiva” but a three foot by two foot canvas with multicoloured splotches. I really hoped her thing was impressionism. A few moments of uncomfortable “It’s…uhm, er…lovely, thank you’s” ensued after presenting her with the over sized used ass wipe and I left to spend twenty minutes getting my car out of the watery trap before heading back to the office. I stopped talking and awaited Reg’s comments and ragging; I could tell it was building up I knew, it was just that he hadn’t gotten from his apex of muted laughter to an audible level. I was saved by his telephone beeping at him.

Reg answered the phone, trying desperately to deepen his giddy high pitched laugh induced tone while I grabbed a paper towel and tried to get some of the paint off at least the lapel of the suit. I heard a couple of ‘yes sir’s and one or two ‘uh-huh’s’ thrown in for good measure before he set the phone back down and looked at me.

Reg pointed to the closed door at the end of the hallway and said, “Henderson’s waiting for you to report in.”

Oh God.

I stood up, grabbed another paper towel to wipe some of the wetness from my face, heading towards the boss’s office.

“Hey,” Reg said. I stopped and turned around.

“What?”

“You’ve got it all wrong,” he said with a smirk.

I was confused.

“It’s his dick you’re supposed to suck, not the other way around,” Reg completed saying as he pointed to my crotch.

Oh great, I thought, it wasn’t just the suit that had shrunk but my pants had gone on the water diet as well. They had shrunk to the point where the fly couldn’t hold the tightness and had burst open. I grabbed a safety pin from the first aid kit and secured it in the middle in hopes that Mr. Henderson wouldn’t notice the butterfly kiss the front of my pants would be making at him. I took a deep breath and walked like a prisoner on death row to the end office and knocked loudly. I heard a gruff, “enter” and opened the door.

I walked into Mr. Henderson’s office. He didn’t look up from his paperwork when he asked if I had gave his wife their anniversary present.

“Yes, sir, I gave her the painting,” I said with an air of trepidation hanging heavily on my shoulders. Mr. Henderson looked up.

“Eh?”

I noticed that his hearing aid was lying uselessly off to the side of the paperwork.

“I SAID I GAVE IT TO YOUR WIFE!!”

The reaction I received wasn’t the one I expected; I hadn’t given him the bad news yet there was a scowl on his face. His eyes narrowed.

“You look terrible,” Mr. Henderson announced curtly, “what the hell happened to you?”

I sighed and answered, “The rain came quickly.”

“Eh?”

Damn half-deaf bugger.

“I said THE RAIN CAME QUICKLY,” a little louder and a little more irritably.

Mr. Henderson looked at me quizzically for a moment then his cheeks reddened.

“Came quickly, did she?” He said in a stern voice.

“YES, THE RAIN DID,” I confirmed, thanking the gods silently that the bugger had gotten it. Now the hard part; to tell him that his painting had been ruined. I started to mime out the rain falling and making the paint run, the effort I took trying to spot dry the painting on the front of me jacket.

“SEE, THE RAIN SOAKED IT,” I shouted, hoping that I still would have a job though it wasn’t looking good from the deepening of the red in his cheeks. The colour started to migrate into the whites of his eyes; never a good sign. Mr. Henderson’s voice became even colder as he stared at the shredded paper in my hand.

“So she did this, eh” he growled. I nodded.

“YES, SHE CAME IN BUCKETS,” I stammered, “YOU CAN SEE THE RESULTS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!”

I didn’t think it was possible for an oak desk sound like a chalkboard, but somehow it was doing a fine imitation of it as Mr. Henderson’s gnarled fingers scraped across it. It was then I noticed that he wasn’t staring harshly at the wrecked paper towel but beyond it. I looked down to see where his attention was…at my wide open fly – the safety pin had come undone without my notice. Great, just flippin’ great – not only had I destroyed his forty thousand dollar painting but I was standing there telling I had done it with Mr. Happy bobbing his head at the old man as my supporter. Things couldn’t get any worse I had thought – funny how sometimes just when you think you’re at the bottom you discover there’s a sub-basement.

Mr. Henderson stood up, supporting himself by using his quivering fists as supports on his desk.

“So you come in here,” he started off quietly stating, “And have the audacity to have your wang hanging out…”

The volume and tremor in his voice increased with every enunciation. This wasn’t looking good.

“…Boasting about HOW YOU MADE MY WIFE LORRIANE…”

Lorraine?

Fuck!

I tried to shout, “THE RAIN! THE RAIN! NOT LORRAINE!” No words could however get past the large ball of horror that had gotten stuck in my throat.

“…ABOUT HOW QUICKLY SHE CAME?”

Oh shit…

I could see Reg laughing his ass off through the open door as Mr. Henderson came around menacingly slow his desk. I tried to get my feet to head out that door but I found myself paralyzed to that spot as Mr. Henderson slammed my way to freedom shut; I prepared for the worse.

Mr. Henderson shuffled until his bald head was almost touching my nose and he poked my chest with his gnarled finger.

“IN BUCKETS, NO LESS!” He spat at me. “YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW? DO YOU, BOY? DO YOU?”

My legs were losing their strength; trembling as I “er” ed and “uhm”ed.

Mr. Henderson stepped back, pulling my head down to where my ear was directly in his seething lips path. In a snarl he started out by saying, “You’re going to tell me…”

The venomous tinge left his voice and was replaced by an almost pleading one.

“…How you did it.” He let me go and then brushed smooth the sopping wet material.

“How did you do it? Damn it boy, you have to tell me! I’ve used a snorkel with an eight hour tank, Lithuanian Albino midgets with French ticklers glued to their heads, elephants with nasal tics, Uranium powered rockets and still had to use a barrel of lube”…

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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