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I Heard No Laughter In The Rain

14/07/2003, harry kollatz, richmond
  A summer evening rainshower turns my quick trip to the grocery store into a soggy event.

My wife Amie and I were completing our Sunday evening tasks. She'd been in Ashland, about 20 minutes north of Richmond, in the gallery where she is artist in residence this summer. I'd spent my day among the archives of the Firehouse Theater Project, getting here and there with my new Schwinn bicycle, doing laundry, sweeping, and generally quiet domestic duties. What I didn't get to today was working on my fiction.
But it was after "Sex In The City" and both of us wanted something sweet. I'm watching my cholesterol so when these pangs hit we have to carefully choose. Amie suggested that I go get some orange sherbert and ginger ale for "floats." So I shook off my letharge, pulled on my Doc Marten sandals and in short pants and short sleeved shirt began my eight block walk through Carytown to the Kroger grocery store.
The trip up was fairly uneventful. Cicada bugs whirred loudly in the trees; the splended sound of summer in Richmond. The street was busier than I expdected. The restaurants with outdoor decks or tables sitting on the sidewalk were doing well. A bearded street magician was taking bets on this sleight of hand and had collected an audience knot.
After having gotten my goodies and checking myself out with the Automated Teller, "Do you have any coupons?," it asks me. One day, I fully expect it to ask, "In what parts of your life do you feel yourself a total failure?" Idea for a short play, maybe.
In the parking lot I looked up and saw flickerings of lightning up in dark, nighttime clouds. I pulled a grocery cart out the way from behind a backing up station wagon that the driver couldn't see. She gave me a thankful wave.
On Cary Street, sipping a Sprite Lemon Lime and wondering why I'd bought it--I was quite thirsty--I heard from a block and a half away an African American man cursing loudly to the air and buildings. He approached me and had those beseeching eyes that meant a pitch was imminent for something. I raised my hand up, nodded, kept walking and the man gruffly said, "What you don't have the time for me?" And let loose a volley of curses about my parentage and standard Anglo Saxon vulgarisms.
Then, not quite half way home, the rain came. At first, a big fat summer rain, heavy drops, widely spaced, patterning the herringbone brick sidewalk. Near the 7-11, a unhealthly skinny woman grasped a pay phone with the vigor of one in the grips of great passion. She slapped it with the side of her hand as she tearfully yelled into the receiver, "Get that whore out of there and come see me!"
Now the rains fell heavily. I dodged underneath awnings and projecting storefronts but that just made it worse. I was soaked in little time.
In the films, this kind of scene is where the young couple gets to embrace each other, jump in puddles together and get sensually soaked to the skin. I could see the romance of it. When standing under an awning in front of a fine accessories boutique I found myself staring at rushing water in the street with reflections from the streetlamp and getting mesmerized by the movement.
When I got to Colonial Avenue, I was shielded by overarching trees but due to the darkness had to carefully avoid puddles. My Doc Marten sandles aren't the best for small lakes in side walk depressions.
And, of course, by time I got to the front porch, the rain had slackened and almost stopped.
Amie made our floats while I changed. We watched the last of the 1980s Kevin Costner thriller "No Way Out" that features Will Patton, the son of Bill Patton, who has successfully directed several excellent Firehouse shows.
And tomorrow, back to the workaday grind.

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