The Rain--A Short Storyby Karen Devaney
October 7, 2010, 3:21 pm
The old man puffed his cigar spitting out the tip as he stared at the solid veil of rain he had been waiting for. “California,” he muttered to himself half disgusted and partly relieved. “Took long enough,” he sighed. The entire damn state had been in a drought barring the occasional pockets of showers that fell February past. They did little to raise the depleted reservoirs. A musky smell of moist dirt rose to comfort him as he shuffled to sit on the re-strung ladder back rocker. Its dilapidated legs moaning like an old dog as he settled into the seat. Back and forth the squeaking rocker swayed as the old man lifted his eyes to scan the sky and ground, alternating between the two. Swirls of gray exhaled cigar smoke snaked around his face circling the porch whose paint withered like shavings off a stick. Bald patches of wood speckled the floor slats while the shingled outer walls of the two-bedroom house sagged from neglect. He had bought the now jalopy looking home forty years prior when it still stood tall like a soldier saluting his country’s flag. He’d survived the granddaddy of wars, WWII, lived to forget about it, and raise his kids in this house
“I reckon this will help.” Colby said out loud as if the rain would reply back. He had received a letter from his youngest daughter two weeks ago, said she’d be passing through. Said she wanted to stop in for a visit. He hadn’t heard a word from the girl in over a year. She’d been deployed to Iraq picking up where her old man had left off. He tried to prevent her from joining the Army, but Kacie was stubborn, just about as stubborn as he was. Colby’s stomach clenched from the inside out pondering her arrival. He tried as best he could to gussy up the place but his money had whittled away once he could no longer clutch a hammer and his pension was barely visible; being a war Vet paid next to nothing.
Colby weathered his life challenges, those unforeseen and unwanted events with his dog Jess, a mutt of sixteen years. Jess half hound, half unknown and stone deaf hobbled out to watch the descending droplets with the old man. He lied down with a groan at Colby’s feet staring at the steady downpour. He had wandered on to the property as a pup, two days after Colby’s wife, Nora, passed away.
“I know boy, this isn’t your favorite weather.” Colby said patting the dog on its head. Jess responded with a slow motion roll to his side, like a large sea lion stuck in the sand.
“She should be here sometime soon, I suspect. Leave it to the youngest to run off, she’s the closet thing to a son we have.” Colby spoke to the dog as if they were brothers sitting on at a bar stool drinking pints of beer together.
Kacie was the youngest of five girls. The others were scattered in states far from California. Although Colby denied it, she was his favorite, His memory roamed through the years they went canoeing and fishing at Lake Havasu. Kacie had come along seven years after the youngest daughter, Claire was born. Nora used to call her the miracle menopause baby.
“You remember that time she caught herself a thirty pound big mouth bass?” Colby chuckled while the rain subsided slightly. “Wonder if she’d take a trip with me back to Havasu?” He puffed the cigar then brought it in front of his face to examine the remains. “I haven’t been fishin for years. Don’t know if I can still hold a rod, hell, I can I’m sure.”
A car drove down the pebbled driveway next door and a young woman with a bag of groceries got out.
“Nice weather we’re having.” She shouted to Colby
“Much needed, not sure how nice. You need some help Maria?” Colby shouted back.
“No sir, I have it. I’ll stop by maybe later.” Maria said.
“That’s okay, my daughter…” Colby didn’t finish as the woman had already scrambled out of the rain. He heard the slamming of the wooden door echo over the trees.
Maria had been his neighbor for three years she had moved from Mexico to work in the family restaurant. She would come by occasionally to chat and he’d fill her in on some old news or story that was current in his mind.
“Maybe Maria can make us a batch of her cornbread.” He said as he resumed rocking on the faded chair. The dog groaned again and rolled to the opposite side.
“Kacie’d like that I bet.”
Colby wasn’t sure how long he’d been sitting waiting for time to march across his porch, when the sound of wet tires drew in from the distance. He didn’t recognize the car and immediately felt a surge of excitement sting his skin. This must be my daughter; he thought and stubbed out the last of the cigar. The rain had retreated to a steady drizzle but the sky remained dark and laden with heavy clouds. He squinted his eyes struggling to see the driver.
“Well, this is it Jess, our Kace has come to pay us a visit.” Colby tapped the dog in an effort to rouse him from a long session of snoring. He looked up and rolled forward with all the effort an old dog could muster. He sniffed the air and let out a pathetic, out of tune howl.
“That a boy.”
A woman in a full dress military uniform hunched under an umbrella. The driver, a man, got out of the car and they exchanged glances as they walked towards the porch. Colby reckoned they were there to let him know Kacie was on her way.
“Sir are you Mr. McKenna?” The woman asked.
“Mr. McKenna, your daughter, Kacie McKenna is coming home a hero.”
Causes Karen Devaney Supports
Eve Ensler and any organization that deals with issues supporting women and children and the advancement of their education.