Mother Earth is the source from which I was never completely free whether in the dust-to-dust sense of the outer flesh or in the whispering of my inner ear, the animal in me that responds to nature's caress. But when the rains came, I was unprepared. I had, of course, long known that something was wrong, but not so seriously wrong that the consequences could not be corrected, for I was at the center of things, and it was my will that powered the universe that concerned me.
It started raining on a Thursday afternoon, the kind of rain one knows won't stop, naturally with the weekend coming up, I thought sarcastically. Most of Saturday's radio and TV sports events were rained out, local and national from one end of the dial to the other, from channel one on up. The groceries I bought and carried to the car were wet and soggy by the time I had stowed them away. I might as well have left the clothes that I picked up at the cleaners, and two of the video CDs I wanted to return fell into a mud puddle, which I'm sure darkened the scenes for those leasees to follow. Poor leasees. Someone is going to have to pay. I had no qualms about not mentioning it.
By the third evening and too disgusted to hear the weather report, I had the feeling the rain would never stop. And I was right. Sunday morning, the sun rose under heavy rain clouds, lighted the rain drops with all the morning hues usually reserved for awe and high altitudes, then disappeared where the dark clouds scraped the city skyline over my head. That was it. There was no end to the rain. Someone must have opened up the ozone hole, burnt down the rain forests, sank three loaded super tankers, talked up the dollar rate. If it didn't stop soon, I would go mad. I went mad. There was nothing to do but wait, and waiting was an exercise I couldn't handle. It wasn't that there was a threat of floods, at least not here in this area, it was the feeling that there was nothing I could do about it. What was happening was happening without me, beyond my control and independent of my need. It was as if suddenly I had been relegated to a position under that of a simple Mexican chihuahua. If I were a nobody, it didn't fit, and it didn't fit equipped as I was if I were really somebody. Try that on for size. This was unprecedented, and I was in no mood to accept it. Or was I unprecedented? Noah's ark was just a figment of scientific fantasy produced in one form or other just to prove a prophetic point. The dinosaurs died out before my time, obviously a development failure, an image error, and it was hardly likely I could establish a personal relation to life on sister planets, meteors possibly heading this way or stars out in the unknown. The cycles they follow do not cross mine, besides that kind of cycle was so far out in time that it didn't matter to me, my personal universe a drop in the bucket, even if I were nearing the end of a mini-giant cycle with hardly a million years left to go, even with a trifling ten thousand. Looking back ten thousand years gives me so much time that I don't need more. I'm tired anyway. The thought of another mere two hundred years sends shivers up and down my spine. There are enough short cycles around like birthdays, menstration, workweeks, AM/PM alarm clocks that go off in the morning, old film repeats that fill each TV evening. I�m busy. Need I even mention marriage, children, birth, death and prime time whizzing by.
Nevertheless, this all didn't change the fact that it had been raining for four days now. I was still home and I was bored. The drab sky was probably getting to me psychologically, and the dampness in the air gave me the kind of aches and pains I didn't care to acknowledge. I made my way to the garage and pushed the button to open the overhead door, not yet sure what I had in mind. I noticed the boys had left their bicycles behind my car, something I've warned them often not to do because I don't always check early in the morning leaving for work. But being Sunday, it didn't really matter, besides I didn't know where I wanted to go, just getting out of the house, reason enough. Naturally there were the normal Sunday social offerings which, in my present frame of mind, enticed me little. I felt like being alone, apart from those around me and alone with my questions for the heavens, wet yes but nevertheless, still above me. With four days of rain, Sunday�s answer was not enough, nor was the rest of the week.
I strapped a garden umbrella to the handelbars of one of the boys' mountain bikes; it held and looked rather like a nostalgic "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"�"Bicycle Built For Two" affair, not bad at all considering the rain wasn't thinking of letting up. A bit of humor was called for. I rode up and down the driveway. It worked. The rain came down straight in sheets; there was no wind to catch me from the side or to push the umbrella into flight. It was more like standing under or riding through a waterfall, in fact, exciting. Anyone can dance or sing in the rain, but bicycling was more with an umbrella and a circular wall of water around you. I might have imagined myself in a bubble floating down the street if I didn't have to pump the pedals so hard. It wasn't the aquarium of my dreams because I was still in my own element and the jeans I had on made me feel at home. There was something very real to it, very singular; it gave me the feeling of being alive. I laughed. After two or three times up and down the street; I ventured out onto the main road toward town. The traffic was light of course. Only a fool would be out on a day like this. Drivers honked pleasantly and waved as they went by giving me wide berth so as not to splash me, a courtesy I hadn't expected. Everyone smiled a greeting. Have a nice day. The going was easier now; I had become used to the shifted center of gravity caused by the now heavy umbrella and compensated for it automatically. I had become so sure of myself that I could briefly take one hand off the handelbar grip long enough to wave back at people who waved to me. What a wonderful day. Two police cars went by, braked briefly, then decided to leave me be. Why not? I could just about hear them say. He looks decent enough.
BIO: Robert J. Gregg, born in Cleveland, Ohio, Dartmouth College BA (English Major), NYU MBA, market, licensing consultant, home lighting design, distribution, author of several novels, unpublished, his latest, The Pope Takes A Sabbatical. A short story has appeared or is forthcoming online In Posse Review. His third is forthcoming in October in Danse Macabre. He lives in Germany with wife and family.