Saturday, July 4, 2009

Miss Stormy Weather

I knew something was up instantly, from the moment she walked in. Actually even before that, when she called, I knew something was wrong. Of course that didn’t mean much. I was always on the ball with reading people’s emotions. That didn’t mean I was any good at dealing with them.

“I feel shitty,” she said presently.

“Can I do anything?”


“There’s nothing I can do to take your mind off it? Or do you want to talk about it?”


“You sure?”

“For fuck’s sake would you just drop it? I already said there was nothing you can do. Get over it.”

I grimaced. Things were off to a good start. As usual.

“Hey, did you see yesterday’s paper?” I said, moving into phase two. Phase two is the part where I try to act normal, as if I can’t see the invisible worm that’s chewing up her insides minute by minute. The part where I pretend there isn’t a sympathy worm tearing up my own guts.

“I dunno. Why?”

Short and sharp. She must really be in a bad mood. So much for small talk. I wonder what it is this time?

“Oh... well it doesn’t matter.”

Funny. Whenever I have bad news she always presses me for it. Grinds it out of me like the enamel of my goddamn molars. Nothing worse than grinding teeth while you’re getting your daily shuteye. If I could just get a solid forty winks just once it’d probably be worth forty grand in dental work later in life. Hell, The way I look these days, I could use it.

“Wanna go to town, get a bite?” I said.

“I’ll come, but I’m not eating.”

“Not hungry?”

“Just don’t feel like eating.”

“Babe, you gotta try to eat something.”

She just shook her head. I grabbed the car keys. My piece of shit Bug wouldn’t start at first, so I had to push-start the fucker. Once it got going, I tried to fiddle with the radio but it was no use. The thing hadn’t worked since January. I don’t know why I even bothered. Probably to get my mind off the cold front that had developed between the coasts of the driver’s seat and the passenger’s. I tried to think of something to say but nothing came out of my mouth. Nothing came out of hers either. I kept driving.

In town we hit some crummy fast food joint, and to my relief she ordered a burger. She picked at it sullenly for a while, but she did eat it. She even managed to say a few words about nothing in particular. Now seemed like as good a time as any to start phase three, which come to think of it, is a lot like phase one: trying to figure out what the hell is wrong.

“You know you can always talk to me.” I said. I braced myself inwardly. Her reaction could go either way.

“I don’t need to talk! There’s no point talking to you about it, you can’t change anything about the situation so why would I bother?”

That wasn’t so bad. She was mad that I wouldn’t drop it, but she hadn’t stabbed me yet.

“I know, but I can listen. I can care.”

She looked me up and down for a moment, gave a look of irritation. Just when I was about to give up on the whole damn thing and walk away, she started talking. She laid it all on the table. Some Joe she was seeing had been jerking her around, not treating her straight like a real man should.

I felt that worm in my stomach again, but this time it wasn’t just a sympathy worm. She must have known how I felt about her. How much it hurt to hear some of the shit she said about her and some other schmuck.

But I asked and there it all was.

“So there,” she said, “now you know all that useless shit that you can’t change or help me with, and I feel even worse.”

I felt a lot worse too. But that didn’t matter to me so much. I was used to it. We trudged slowly back to the car as I again tried to think of something to break the ice. As we got to the car park it started to rain, and I mean really bucket down. Great. God’s not just spitting on me, now he’s pissing all over me.

We jumped inside the Bug, drowned as rats. I knew the car wouldn’t start so I didn’t try it. We sat there awhile looking through the waterfall windscreen at the blurry patterns of the world outside.

“You know what’s worse than raining cats and dogs?” I said.


“Hailing taxis.”

She gave me that look for a moment. The incredulous one that looks adorable. Then she burst out laughing.

“You’re such an idiot sometimes,” she said as she chuckled.

It was a pretty bad joke, but it cracked that safe on her face and made her smile. Things were okay again for a little while.


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