Driving Rain


Jennifer Lon


If this keeps up they'll have to reclassify Manhattan as a tropical island. I don't think I've ever seen so much rain. And the heat. Maybe Wolfe will finally break down and install that air conditioning I've been suggesting for the past few years. In any case, I give you three to one he's steaming now.

The trip to bucolic New Jersey was a complete wash out. I called him from some dive just outside of Newark. What we thought was a witness, wasn't, and the "sure thing" we paid fifty bucks for wasn't worth a plug nickel. And I told him I'd be home in an hour, in plenty of time for supper.

That was an hour and a half ago. I should have known. Rush hour, torrential rain. First there was an accident, then the bridge was backed up. And he's sitting there, wondering if he'll have to delay his lobster salad. That would be a shame.

Of course, he may also be sitting there thinking about the deluge he's sent me out in, and the traffic. He seems to think going out in any sort of inclement weather is fool hardy, and in this case I'd be willing to agree with him. And driving a car, well, that makes me a candidate for the nut house any day.

I'd worry that he might realize the roads I traveled today are notorious for crack ups and have even more regrets about sending me out, but he remains stubbornly ignorant of the geography of New York City and its surrounding environs. Even if he reads about the accidents in the papers, which I know he does because he devours every word written in them, even the "trite gossip" about society ingénues and the men who take them dancing, he won't know where they are. Not that he'd have that much concern about me, other than the fact that I might delay supper.

I shouldn't say that. I know it's not true. At least, I think it's not.

Thirty-fifth Street looks like heaven, and I consider parking in front of the brownstone. I really hate to leave the Heron on the street on a night like this, though, and head for the garage. With or without and umbrella, I'll be soaked by the time I make it to the front door, which will give him a chance to grouse at me about something other than my tardiness. I don't mind. I started telling myself a long time ago that it was just his way of letting me know he cared. Maybe it is. It would be nice to know for sure.




He is late. My eyes are drawn, unbidden, to the watch I have set upon the edge of my desk. It is too hot to read, too hot, in fact, to do anything but sit here and worry. He told me he would be home within an hour, and now half again that much time has passed.

I know it must be because of the rain. I tell myself that. The road he has taken, that I assume he has taken, is a hazardous one, though. I've made it my business to know where I am sending him. I chart his journeys on the maps I keep in my desk, and wonder at his intrepidness. I am dependent on it.

Saul tells me Archie is a good driver. Still, how often have I read of innocent people being killed by the recklessness of others with those machines? I am dependent on his own skill to bring him home safely. It is difficult being so dependent on another for one's livelihood. For one's happiness.

Fritz comes into the office and gives me a look full of annoyance. I do not know if he is annoyed because I have sent Archie out into this storm, or because Archie is late returning, or at the sheer misery of the day.

"He promised me he would be back before supper." I answer his unspoken question. I am telling myself as much as I am telling Fritz. If I say it, if Archie has said he will do it, then it will happen.

Fritz's eyes flick to the storm raging outside. I know he is as worried as I am.

He starts to reply when we hear the familiar sound of a key in the door. I see the tension leave his body, and know mine has reacted similarly. He turns back to the kitchen as I turn to face the door.

"You are soaked." The words come, part of an oft-played charade.

"Yes, I am. If you haven't noticed, it's raining." The expected reply.

"Go upstairs and change. Supper is in fifteen minutes."

He leaves me, and I sink a little deeper into my chair. I retrieve my watch from the edge of my desk, and return it to my pocket. He is home, and for one more evening my life will go on as I wish it to. Our lives.

I contemplate the words I'd like to say, the words I have said. The gulf between them. I do not think I will ever be able to bridge that gap. I can only hope he understands. I think he does.

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