Note to readers: This is an inspired work of fiction (though I guess you’ll be the judge of its level of inspiration) that came to me on this rainy Friday. For the usual "Friday random thoughts," scroll to the bottom of this entry.
“It’s wet today.” That’s about all the explanation you’d get from the men lining the bar at The Shamrock, taking solace in a bloody Mary or Irish coffee. And you’d be lucky to get it. These are Stoics. They are not quick to smile or laugh, and when they do it is a long, drawn out laugh deep in the throat. They are not much for talking. This is why they are at The Shamrock in the first place — there’s not much call for conversation at a bar at 11 a.m. on a Friday when you’re staring down your third dose of vodka and tomato juice. So they shoot sideways glances and say, “It’s wet today.”
Mother Nature would be displeased to hear their description. She woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, and she decided to let someone know about it.
It’s raining so hard that you can see the wind. It comes in sheets and billows — wet, cold, flowing linen hung out to dry on a blustery day. The rain is wedded to it, like young lovers oblivious to the buffets and bruises of the world, until their union is smashed to pieces on your windshield, brushed aside by cruel, callous wipers.
You can see the wind on the road, making ripples on the water pooled in the pavement’s rills and potholes. These are potholes the city said it would fix, when the time was right, one council member said during a meeting on an especially sunny November day. Unfortunately for Rachel Mertz, who was trying to avoid the flooded streets turning half the city into lakefront property, the time wasn’t right soon enough. Her 1987 Buick was swallowed nearly whole just after noon when the weight of her front-right tire expanded a pothole on Jackson Alley into a full-blown sinkhole, taking half of a neighbor’s garage with it.
Rachel was OK. She climbed out and examined the damage. Staring at the crumbling garage and crumpled Buick, she decided to just wait for the tow truck and homeowner — good things come to those who wait, even those who have caused front-page news. She thought about how to explain the event to the reporters, with their cameras and voice recorders hanging on every tick and word. She knew better than to drive down a barely paved alley in this city’s downtown, let alone in a driving rainstorm that had turned the hamlet by the Interstate into a small town again, pockmarked with puddles, temporarily shut off from the outside world.