by Karen Wood
Dedicated to Lidia, since she made me write this!
He knew exactly where to find her when he came back from his trip through the portholes. He didnt know why it was so important to him to find her, to tell her, but it seemed the events that had happened wouldnt be real until hed relived them with her.
It was 5 oclock in the afternoon, so most likely, from what hed learned about her from his day-time sources, she was sitting at the end of the bar at the corner of 75th and Nieman. Shed started making it a habit even before she was fired from the force and now because of the dismissal and having nothing else to do with her life, she came so often that they knew her by name or at least what they thought was her name. She had told them she was Sheila for reasons not known to anyone but herself.
The rain pelted off of his black leather duster as his long purposeful strides took him toward his destination. To the dingy bar. To her side. He was still dripping when he straddled the seat beside her without speaking. She was so lost in her own world that she only became aware of his presence because of the rhythmic sound the water made as it hit the bar in front of them.
I hate the rain, she said when he failed to make a sound, instead sitting silently, waiting for her to make the first acknowledgment of his existence.
And why is that, Kate?
She laughed a humorless laugh and shrugged before continuing. People always say they love the rain. They love storms. Have you noticed that? And they always say it like its this novelty. Like the rest of the world hates them but they dont. Like liking rain makes them special. Or unique.
Beer, he said to the bartender as he approached from the side.
SWF height-weight proportionate, proportionate to what they never manage to say, seeks SWM, non-gay, non-married, non-commitment phobia-ed, who likes dogs, Mom, apple pie, long walks in the God-awful rain and going to old movies, she continued before downing nearly half of the clear liquid in her glass. But not necessarily in that order.
Whats wrong with that? he asked.
She laughed again, this time like she there was some joke that only she was in on and drank the last of the liquor.
Nothings wrong with that Angel. Nothing at all.
Funny, Im not convinced you mean that.
Yeah, well, she said and then lifted her glass in a silent signal to the bartender as he placed the beer in front of Angel.
What are you doing here, Angel? she asked in the silence that had grown as she absentmindedly rolled her empty glass on the cool wooden surface of the bar.
I came to tell you where Ive been, he said. And he did. Recounting tales of green horned men and people as cows and a girl named Fred and a Princess Cordy. And a world where he could live in the sun.
Somewhere during the telling, she couldnt say when and neither could he, she began to cry. Tears fell down her cheeks. Some followed the curve of her chin down her neck while some landed near the raindrops hed left earlier.
He became aware of her crying near the end of his tale, but having not seen her cry before, even when shed tried to take her life, and being uncomfortable with this side of human emotions, he continued on. Stumbling over words, stuttering occasionally, and repeating key points in an effort to not notice her state and more importantly not let her know he had, in fact, noticed.
But he stopped abruptly as he came to the realization that he was rambling, exaggerating slightly just in order to prolong the story, and was now speaking uncharacteristically too loud, drawing stares from the rest of the patrons.
He rubbed his unshaven cheeks and chin repeatedly with his right hand and tried not to dwell on the combination of silence and tears until he could stand it no longer.
Kate. Kate, whats wrong. Are you okay? he asked in a quiet voice while still avoiding her face.
The answer came in the form of a nod that he felt but didnt believe and more importantly didnt believe she believed.
Did I say something?
She shut her eyes tight against the tears and felt her chin quiver before burying her face in her hands.
Her recovery was both admirable and typical.
Im fine. Its the booze. Im a sloppy drunk.
I dont believe that.
She looked at him and smiled. A sad smile this time. Im sorry. I hate this. This is the last thing you need, isnt it? Some drunk hysterical female crying on your shoulder for no apparent reason.
He shrugged, still not looking at her. Youre not the hysterical type, Kate. I have broad shoulders. And I think theres a reason. Id like to know what that is if you want to share it with me.
Funny, you didnt say anything about the drunk part.
No, I guess I didnt.
She sighed, relaxed her shoulders, and downed the last of the new drink the bartender had brought to her during Angels recount of his past weeks activities. Your story, it it
It what, Kate?
She let the silence grow again before she replied.
It made me realize.
He waited for her to continue.
Ill never see your face in the sun, she said. God, Angel, I want to see your face in the sun.
She sounded as though she was drowning. Words choked out in gasps. Face contorted in pain. Her hand reached out to touch his pale cheek.
As she caressed his face their eyes met for the first time since hed gotten there. Brown on blue. Blue on brown. A world apart. And slowly, silently, he turned his face and kissed the palm cradling his cheek.
He lingered there for a moment before his senses interrupted him and with a start he looked toward the window.
Id better go.
Kate, the rains stopping, he said pointedly, Ive got to go.
And then he was gone. And she was left, staring down at the bar top in front of her, still damp with the rain, and her tears.
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