Rain II, a love story continued

Rain, a love story

Do you remember how it started? I need you to remember how it began.

It is raining. It always starts with the raining. Always. I run to the car as the first cold wet drops splat on my bald head. I press the button, hear the door unlock, jump in and press the ignition. The car starts as the drops fall faster. They are loud and only grow louder as they fall. But not as loud as the music. Crunchy guitars assail me in the thumping rain.

No.

Not this time. It doesn’t start this way at all. It ended that way. It all fell apart the moment the rain fell upon my bald head. The moment the ice cream mixed with the copper blood that poured from my mouth. It doesn’t start with a question in a grocery store. It doesn’t start with a bit of harmless flirtation. It doesn’t bubble up into love.

In fact. And this is important.
All of that lead to a new start. It doesn’t make any sense at all. None.

This starts in an office. It starts with the story of rain. It starts directly after a car accident. It starts over with me telling the story of love. It starts as I died on an empty street on the way home to her. It begins with an ending.
Very good. Very good indeed. Rocky Road was it? What was her name? Quickly!

“Her name was. No. Is. Allie.”

Yes.

Brown eyes. Twinkling, a barely hidden smile. “Do you drink your coffee black as well?”

Are you a sociopath?

“What? No. I don’t know. Where am I? Who are you?”

You are dead. I am trying to decide what to do with your eternal soul.

The rain. Ice Cream and the steady drip of rain. The dog with blood red eyes standing in the middle of the road. It never flinched. Never looked away as I sailed through the air. Just watched as I died. Blood and ice cream pooling on ceiling of the car. Music playing loudly in the background.

Would you like something to drink? Black coffee?

“Can I go back?”

Back? To what? The wreckage on the road?

“To her. To Allie.”

I rather doubt that.

“What was that dog?”

Dog?

“It was huge. Red eyes. It is why I crashed. Why I…”

Please hold.

“Can you put on some music? It is too quiet.”

Music. Please hold.

I knew the second the guitars kicked in. This would work. I almost felt something. Almost. This numbness seemed to hold everything in stasis. Like every cell of my body was vibrating in place but unable to discharge the energy. I wanted to scream. To cry. To beg. Anything. But there was nothing. Just sitting still. Vibrating in place. I let the music wash over me. Alkaline Trio. Good choice for the recently dead. And that is what I am. The recently deceased. I knew it was true. But I couldn’t process it.

What the hell is your name? And can you explain this place? It seems you’re playing a game, where you only know how to take out the best. Cause if assholes could fly, this place would be busier than O’Hare, it’s as thick as our skulls but it’s thinner than air…

I didn’t wake up after the accident. I was just here. I came to here. In a waiting room. A slip of paper in my hand. Eighty three on the red display. Eighty four clenched in my hand. Then it was my turn. The indistinct room became an equally indistinct hall. Then an office. An average looking man in glasses. Questions. He tapped the keys on his computer as I answered.
I told him my story. Not this story. The one before. The one that began with rain. Why can’t I cry? If I could cry I think I might be able to come to terms with this. I feel it choking the back of my throat. This ball of wailing that needs to come out. It is right there. Why can’t I cry? I want to. I need to. Brown eyes. That lock of unruly hair. I just want to push it back behind her ear and tell her everything is okay. I want to scream. I need to. I need to scream and cry. I need to hold her and tell her I love her. Smell the flower scent of her hair one more time. One more kiss. Just one.

The music plays on.

And I now have nothing, but your heartbeat in my head. And a photograph of my traveling friend. And I became nothing, when I found out you were dead. When I found out I’d, never see you again…

“Hello?”

Yes.

“Can we go without music now?”

Yes.

“Thank you.”

Silence. Wonderful silence. The interview room is plain. I see my face reflected back in the black glass that circles me. I guess the bodiless voice is watching me. Gauging my reactions to the questions.

The average looking man in glasses listened to my story. He tapped on the keys of his keyboard and watched the screen intently. He nodded at the appropriate times. But when I asked about the dog with the fiery red eyes he paused.

“So, a big black dog stood in the road and you swerved to miss him? And this dog had red eyes?”

I nodded. “Yes. It happened so fast but I know what I saw.”

He excused himself. I wanted to get up and see what he was typing. I could not will myself to stand though. So I sat and waited. Like I am doing now. Sat. Feeling things as if in another body. When he returned he escorted me to this room. This interrogation room. Not interview.

Interrogation. The room with the voice that came from a hidden speaker. Or directly into my head.

You have a visitor.

“I have a visitor. Here?”

Yes.

The door opened and a man I had never seen stepped in. He carried two styrofoam cups. He set them on the table in front of me. I saw him I. Front of me but not matter how hard I stared I could not describe him. He was just out of focus. I looked at the cups. They were fine. I saw little swirls of steam dance in the air. The wood grain of the table in front me. But he was…

“I took the liberty of bring you a coffee. I didn’t know how you took yours so I just got it black. I hope that is okay.” Even his voice was non-denominational if that could be a way to describe a voice.

I nodded. “That’s fine. Thank you. Do you want me to tell you the story? Everyone wants me to tell them the story.”

He shook his head. “I think I understand for the most part.”

“Can I go home now?”

It is impossible to read a face that is impossible to see clearly.

“I am afraid not. At least not now.”

“It is the dog. The dog is the reason you won’t let me go.”

He picked up a cup and took a sip.

“Well. It complicates things.”

“Why?”

“That is complicated as well.”

“Is this real? Did I hit my head in the accident and this is me in a coma?”

“No. You are deceased.”

“How do I know that? That is what a coma dream intangible person would say.”

“I have changed my mind. Tell me your story.”

“From the beginning?”

“Yes.”

“It is raining. It always starts with the raining. Always. I run to the car as the first cold wet drops splat on my bald head. I press the button, hear the door unlock, jump in and press the ignition. The car starts as the drops fall faster. They are loud and only grow louder as they fall. But not as loud as the music. Crunchy guitars assail me in the thumping rain…”

“Not far enough.” Even though I couldn’t make out his face I could sense his disapproval.

“When then? If I am honest I feel as if I began with her in the grocery store.”

“The latter phase of who you were. Yes. What were you before her?”

I sat and thought about that. “Nothing.”

“Surely that isn’t true.”

“I was a mistake.”

“Go on.”

“My parents were too young, too horny, too irresponsible. Then they were saddled with me. I knew from a very early age I was a mistake.”

“How did you handle that?”

“Don’t you already know? You have to have a file on me somewhere.”

“Black and white. Just words. I’d rather form an opinion based on your words.”

“I was trouble. I wasn’t wanted so I made sure no one would. As soon as I could I began to cause problems.”

“How?”

“I stole. Once I could, I did drugs. Drank. Had sex. Got into fights.”

“Why?”

“Why not?”

“You made the conscious effort to be bad?”

“Yes. I guess. It was the only obvious path.”

“Tell me about your mother.”

“No.”

“The records indicate a history of abuse.”

“Well there you go.”

“Why do you think that was?”

“I was a burden. I trapped them into a relationship. She always hated me.”

“And your father?”

“He didn’t. Not out loud.”

“So you turned to crime because of your mother?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Because your father was never home?”

“I didn’t say that either.”

“What made you change?”

“Dad died. I had to grow up.”

“And your mother?”

“Wasn’t part of the picture anymore.”

“You made homemade bombs and set them off around town.”

“Sure.”

“Why?”

“Things that go boom interested me. I was a teenager. High out of mind. It wasn’t hard to make them. So I did.”

“Do you regret it now?”

“Man, I regret a lot of things. Who are you?”

“The one who has a hard choice to make.”

“What choice?”

“Heaven or Hell.”

“I would think that is obvious.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. I was an asshole. I did horrible things. Hell.”

“Is that your choice?”

“No. I’d prefer to go back and eat ice cream with Allie on the couch and watch TV. Do I get a choice?”

“That is the question.”

“Why is it even a question? Isn’t this all predetermined at the time of death?”

“You are in balance. Neither good or evil.”

“Is that common?”

“More than you would think. But usually there is leeway. A few points here and there. A sin or two difference. You sinned but never any of the cardinal sins that deserve eternal damnation. You were more a product of your environment. Which is in your favor. But you show no remorse. Do you feel remorse?”

“No.”

“Are you a sociopath?”

“Would a sociopath answer that honestly?”

“You would.”

“I would. Borderline. I don’t feel bad for things I have done. Or things I think. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish what I set out to do.”

“Exactly. If you went back would you repent? Live a virtuous life?”

“No.”

“And you deserve neither heaven or hell.”

“What is hell like?”

“Worse than you imagine likely.”

“And heaven?”

“Better than you could dream.”
“Well then. Not really much of a choice.”

“Heaven?”

“No. Heaven was with her. Hell was life before her.”

“So you have already been through both?”

I just nodded. I sipped at my coffee. It was bitter and already cold. But it was better than nothing.

“If you could do it all over again, what would you change?”

“I would have bought Apple stock in the nineties.”

“That’s it?”

“Anything else and I would not have gotten vanilla ice cream in front of the love of my life.”

It is raining. It always starts with the raining. Always. I run to the car as the first cold wet drops splat on my bald head. I press the button, hear the door unlock, jump in and press the ignition. The car starts as the drops fall faster. They are loud and only grow louder as they fall. But not as loud as the music. Crunchy guitars assail me in the thumping rain.

“What is it about her?”

“She is broken in all the right ways. We fit together just right. Two jigsaw pieces that were not made for each other but life cut and carved until we were perfectly matched. That makes it even better. She understands why I don’t feel things. She understands the things I feel too much. And I do the same for her. I don’t know if she is going to be okay without me.”

“So do you want to go back for you, or for her?”

“For her. I am numb here. The stabbing pains are gone. Like the fog has been lifted. It is nice. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t feel that dull ache behind my eyes. That heavy feeling in my chest. No anxiety. No fear. Nothing. But she still does. Except alone. I remember being alone with it. It is too much to take. She needs me to carry her anchor when she is too tired to carry it herself.”

He nodded and closed his paperwork. “That’s all I need. Thank you.”

“That’s it? What’s the verdict?”

“Heaven.”

“Why?”

“Selflessness.”

“And if I say no? What then? Do you send me to hell?”

“What would you have me do?”

“If I can’t go back, can I wait for her here?”

“What if she doesn’t end up here?”

“What if I can’t find her? What if I go to heaven but she doesn’t?”

“Is that a real chance?”

“Well she doesn’t believe in any of this either.”

“You still don’t believe in this? Sitting here in an interrogation room in purgatory yet you claim disbelief. You are not that foolish.”

“Heaven and hell are all too real where I come from. I’ve been forged in them already.”

“You are stubborn.”

“I prefer tenacious.”

He sat still and stared at me. Too still. It was unnerving. “I need time to consider this. Tenacious is right.”

He stood and left.

Please exit the room.

“Am I free to go?”

No.

“What am I supposed to do then?”

Wait.

“Who was that guy? Some big shot here?”

Yes.

“Like the manager?”

God.

“Fuck.”

Exactly. Take a seat in waiting room. We will call you when a decision has been made.

“Wait. Are you God?”

Would that change anything?

“I guess not.”

Then return to the waiting room and wait for us to call your name.

“Okay.”

I left the interrogation room and made my way down the hallway. I passed the room with the average looking man. He smiled at me and pushed his glasses back up his nose. I nodded and waved.

“Did you get placed?” he asked.

“Heaven.”

“Congrats!”

“I didn’t accept. Not yet.”

He frowned. “That is unusual.”

“God seemed to think so too. We both agreed I am tenacious though. So there is always that.”
I laughed at the shocked look on his face and started walking again. The waiting room was just as packed as it had been when I left. I found a seat near the back where I could sit and watch the crowd of indistinct faces. An older man appeared in the seat next to me. One second the seat was empty, the next he was there. I watched as he seemed to wake from a dream and look around. A slip of paper was clutched in his hand. I saw the number three hundred and four. We both looked at the red display. Two hundred and forty six flashed for a few moments.

He looked at me and smiled. “Guess I have a bit of a wait. Where are we?”

I smiled and shook my head. “No idea. What’s the last thing you remember?”

He scrunched up his face for a second. “I was in the hospital. My ticker isn’t as good as it used to be. How about you?”

I sat back and closed my eyes.

“It is raining. It always starts with the raining. Always. I run to the car as the first cold wet drops splat on my bald head. I press the button, hear the door unlock, jump in and press the ignition. The car starts as the drops fall faster. They are loud and only grow louder as they fall. But not as loud as the music. Crunchy guitars assail me in the thumping rain.”

He nodded as I told my story. The number on the display steadily climbed as the voice called them out. I spoke slowly, as far as I could tell I have forever. In mind all I could see was brown eyes. All I could smell was wildflowers in her hair. It doesn’t matter what anyone says. I already knew exactly what heaven was like.

She smiled at me. “I bet you drink your coffee black.”

13 thoughts on “Rain II, a love story continued

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