Fool in the Rain
Roger felt like a fool standing in the street and glaring through the restaurant window; rain trickled onto his jacket. Cars drove by and the tires on wet pavement sounded like they zoomed at top speed, though the traffic was slow. Honks blared. The garish neon lights flashed, half-reflected through the glass in that uncanny dual reality in which he saw himself as a has-been actor in a jaded movie scene.
Jennifer sat at a table and giggled as another man caressed her hand. The man leaned forward and kissed her neck; she flirted while Roger, unseen, stared aghast and dumbstruck.
He hesitated a moment and imagined himself bursting into the restaurant, grabbing the guy by the lapel and punching him.
Would she scream? Would she beg him to stop?
“She’d laugh,” he murmured, “just like she’s laughing now, just as she’s always done. I’d only spend the night in jail.”
Roger hung his head and trudged home in the now pouring rain. People jostled past him with umbrellas held high, collars turned up and jackets pulled close. Roger dawdled and, with hair slick from rain and drenched clothes, approached a street corner.
Maybe we can talk it out?
As he reached the curb, the traffic light switched from “stop” to “walk” and the little pulsing man blared in his brain.
He thought about Jennifer and her perfidy and remembered all the tiny warning signs he’d overlooked because of love. How many times had she belittled him in public and he’d let it slide when she’d whispered the opposite in bed?
She’d complain about his gift bouquets cluttering up the apartment, then turn around and whine when he gave her only one rose.
Should I give her another chance?
Roger approached another corner, and once again, the little walking man lit up as soon as he’d reached it.
But there was no pleasing Jennifer. And now, ever since the window had reflected two realities—the warm inner world of the restaurant intermingled with the wet world of the street—Roger saw Jennifer’s duplicity.
Does she deserve yet another chance?
He reached the crosswalk that led to his apartment, no, their apartment. The stoplight changed and the little flashing man urged him to walk.
Then the ever-present battle between love and disdain she engaged in their relationship snaked down from the leaden sky as lightning. Thunder clapped as the scales fell from his eyes and slithered down his body with the raindrops.
“No more!” Roger exclaimed, and a woman jumped and glared at him as she hurried along.
Roger entered the home he shared with Jennifer and glanced around, wishing for guidance on what to do.
Should I throw her out?
“You are a gentleman,” his father’s voice whispered as blue and white shadows danced on the wall. A wet scent emanated from the metal window-frames; the sound of splashing wheels in the street.
He glanced around the room and the jagged shapes of the furniture seemed spooky in the semi-darkness. She had moved in with him. He paid the rent; he owned the furniture, and yet her essence hovered everywhere and lurked in the shadows.
He switched on the light and closed the door. The wall shook and a framed photograph flew off its nail and crashed to the floor. Roger picked it up. In the picture, he beamed with delight, but the glass had shattered over Jennifer’s face.
When Jennifer crept into the apartment the following morning she found a silent home and a broken picture with a note stuck to it.
“I’ve ended the lease and you have 30 days to leave.”