Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Then Static

The rain fell. It was something like the 109th day or 119th straight day of rain. There was only so many indoor activities a person could handle. How much coffee or beer can a bladder handle? And there was the statistical inevitability that one would have to go outside eventually, if nothing more than to buy more condoms.

When Jill took off out of town there were any number of directions she could go. The only direction was back, there was no going back. No going back to September, no going back to the one “should I stay or should I go” September.

In September the days are still on the long side. In September the place is freakishly dry. In September the radio waves translate into warm weather rock n roll even when the car is pointed south along SE 82nd Ave. In September, the views out the car windows are of the porn shops and the lingerie modeling houses, affectionately known as “whack-shacks”, the pawn shops and the convenience stores. In September, a normal person would hardly see these places, and a normal person would shudder at the thought of going into one. Come the 109th or the 119th straight day of rain, a little porn, or better still, masturbating while watching a lingerie model gyrate to the rain on a windowpane seems quite reasonable.

Jill turned the radio dial to a familiar station, an old friend of a radio station, and headed west on Hwy 30.

The meandering course of the Columbia River moved through old logging towns where illicit drugs and country music has moved in, there were ample places to stop: Sauvie Island, Scapoose and any number of roadhouses. But on the 109th or the 119th straight day of rain being an out of towner was not the best thing to be. A daytripper looking for the way the world was made was not ideal either. In fact, stopping for gas and sundries somewhere before the largest Sitka tree on Earth somehow seemed suspect, this would not have been the case in the summer, not even in September.

Over the hill into Astoria, the darkness of day turned to timid gray. A timid gray without the normal moss and mold greening winter rain. The radio reception failed. In the moment before she could turn the radio off, the static broke briefly for a communication transmission from a river's barge. Portuguese? Russian? Then static.

The rain slowed. At the junction of Hwy 30 and Hwy 101, there were images of Carter. Carter was too sweet, too young, too perfect to model lingerie for the hard-up, the social awkward, the fetishistically broken men. Still, Jill wondered how wonderful it would be to see Carter naked, or nearly so. And no matter what Carter did or did not do, it was not Carter's fault.

Had it been an accident, or a coincidence that led her fiance to Carter's lingerie room, that may be one thing. But Gary knew Carter, he knew her as the girl who lived next door. Worse still, he knew where she worked. He deliberately went. Carter collected her pay. He concluded the session with a relaxed sigh and a paper towel Carter waited until he zipped up his pants before saying, “You tell Jill, or I will.”

Carter told Jill on the 109th or 119th day of straight rain. He had behaved better than most, she explained. Jill listened, and considered the bus outside on the street splashing the puddles of rain. Dirty puddles under dirty wheels.

In Astoria, Jill parked her car. She shut off the ignition and listened to the engine cool; click, hiss, click, click. Rain, small rain collected in force and tickled the roof and windshield of the car.

When she opened the door, a seagull screeched overheard. The seagull was a nearly welcomed change from the crows and pigeons of the city.

She walked down the old docks and looked past the river to the trees of Washington on the opposite shore. She squinted when tears began to well up in her eyes.

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