Thursday, July 30, 2009


He sat in the old leather armchair, the one his father used to use all the time until he couldn’t remain upright anymore without a lot of pain. He puffed a cigarette and blew the smoke through the screen door onto the patio, leaving a strange cloud of white cotton floating in the humid air outside and a faint outline of a small circle of smokey water droplets on the rain-moist screen. He was looking out the screen at the lush green lawn and the oaks drooping under the weight of heavy rain. He liked the lawn; had worked hard to get rid of the chinch bugs and had fertilized it with carefully measured amounts, watering thoroughly just before sunset every day. The trees looked good; as good as when he’d bought the house, back when dad was alive. His father had been proud of the house, and he’d been proud that his dad was proud. He never had felt like he’d pleased him, like he’d made enough of himself to justify his existence to the old man. But that’s what sons were like, he supposed. You were supposed to try and please your parents, do better than they did, show them that they raised you right. The power was out. No TV. The silence blanketed the room, and made the constant rain sound fuller, louder. These were actually very nice times, when everything was off. He sometimes forgot his reliance on electricity, and went to turn on the radio since TV was off. Or decided he should take advantage of the quiet and read in the den with his overhead lamp on. But no, no power. So he sat, and smoked, and watched the rain. Some kids ran by the back fence, splashing each other in the puddles, then cursing loudly. He remembered when he didn’t even know those words, and he’d been plenty older than those kids when he’d learned them. But they were kids, and no matter how rough and worldly they acted, they were as scared and proud, and full of themselves as he’d been. They probably hadn’t lost a parent yet, not for some years, but maybe. Probably divorce first. The generation where parents stayed together was long gone. Might be where they heard all the cursing. Or TV. Nice to have the TV off. Listen to the rain.