Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Leaning against the car, he twirled a piece of tasseled grass from the roadside.

He didn't look at the house anymore.

The empty windows reminded him of deep water. The more he stared into the murkiness, the more he wondered what could be swimming down there.

A cruiser rolled up. No flashing lights.

Good. Nothing to disturb the heat weighing on the corn. Nothing to disturb the syrupy smell of pollen in the air.

"Captain," the trooper said, nodding.

He nodded back.

"Have you been here for the whole thing?" The trooper gazed into the distance. Probably at the windows.

"Since first light," he said. "The call came in sometime after four."

"What's he saying?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. No word from him. No movement in the house."

"You sure he's in there?"

"Yeah. He's there."

A rumble crept across the farmland.

In the long sweep of sky, black clouds clawed out of the summer heat.

"Is he armed?" the trooper said.

"Assume so. He's got the usual. Shotguns. Hunting rifles."

The trooper adjusted his Kevlar vest.

Over the old outhouse in the yard, the storm took shape. Already, it was coming.

"How long are you going to wait?"

He dropped the long blade of grass, and it landed across his shoes. "That storm's going to be a dandy."

The trooper turned, and he saw himself in the reflection of the man's sunglasses.

"You know what I used to think when I was little?" he said. "I used to think that big thunderstorms whipped up because they were coming for someone. Somebody bad. Somebody who messed up. All that wind and lightning spells punishment for someone."

He stared at the lean in the front porch. The flaking paint on the window pane.

The house wasn't holding it's breath any more. No longer choking in the heat.

"Yeah," he said. "Don't move the guys any closer. Let's wait a bit. That storm's on its way."

He didn't tell the young man that he knew that fellow wasn't going to walk out of there. That he felt it in the stillness. Even breathing changed a place, and the house now sounded like eons frozen in stone.

The first raindrop hit his arm.

Just a few more minutes to let the world attend to its business.

The wind would bend the trees, and the black storm would come.


Bernita said...

I love "natural" justice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bernita!! A thunderstorm was on its way when I snapped that picture. Then, I had to get ahead of it on the motorcycle before I got caught.

Anonymous said...


I'll be away until Friday night, so I won't be able to respond to comments until the weekend.

Have fun! I'll stop by your blogs once I get back to see what's cookin'. I have a post in the queue for Friday, so the normal schedule will continue here.

Charles Gramlich said...

The description of the storm is very well done. Strong images. I always enjoy storms in stories myself.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Powerful imagery.It's great how far a picture can drive the imagination.

Have a good one!

Meghan said...

I agree with Sameera. Very powerful. Great job!

paisley said...

whoa... that was nice.. i loved the fact that he was so calm,, almost sedate... amazing....

NYPinTA said...

Wow. Favorite bit: The empty windows reminded him of deep water. The more he stared into the murkiness, the more he wondered what could be swimming down there.

J.C. Montgomery said...

I became so engrossed, that I was disappointed when I got to the end - I didn't want it to be the end.

angel said...

jason... i bow at the feet of the short story master!

Terri said...

Great piece of writing, it really draws the reader in and I can almost smell the thunderstorm myself. It's really well captured in the photograph, too.

SzélsőFa said...

As usual, I had to come back and read it once more. And I did come back and liked it the more.
Great job.

Sarah Hina said...

This one unnerved me.

I think it's the fact that we're blind to what's unfolding inside the house. With distance comes uncertainty, and the imagination seizes its cues from whatever is available. The thunderstorm assumes an inevitable, fatal shape. And the man inside the house seems doomed.

I can only hope he's spared.

Anonymous said...

Charles, those big summer storms are the best.

Sameera, I used to do this more. Just take a picture and clear my mind and see what jumps in. It was fun to do again.

Thanks Meghan!

Paisley, I'm glad that watchful, almost sleepy atmosphere came across. An odd vibe for a armed stand-off.

NYPinTA, I've had dreams like that. A bit of water like a large pond or an old, old swimming pool. Down in the deep, weird things are swimming.

J.C. Montgomery, that's very encouraging. :) Maybe I'll be able to finally deliver a compelling novel.

Angel, arise arise. ;) Thanks for the praise.

Terri, I'm fascinating by these remote houses. I imagine each one feels like a different world.

Szelsofa, I do often rely on subtlety. And I often take it too far. Hopefully it wasn't too obscure on first read.

Sarah, yes, this kind of situation is terribly disconcerting when the need is for greater hooks into nature of what's unfolding. But this fellow tiptoes across the most fleeting of clues. And he's found that he's right. As for the troubled guy inside, he's already gone by his own hand. The thunderstorm will take away his hushed presence that still hangs over the house.

SzélsőFa said...

No, it was just fine with me:)

JaneyV said...

I do love a summer storm. Tim and I will stay up for hours with the windows wide open, letting the cool breeze wash away the mugginess and distemper of a hot summer's afternoon. The thunder and lightning are just an added bonus - nature's opera.

I very much enjoyed the idea of the storm coming to punish the wicked. I've always thought of them as being powerful cleansers but I do like the notion of avenging angels too!

Anonymous said...

Szelsofa, okay. Maybe I wasn't as obscure as I thought.

Janey, nature's opera.... Love that! We like watching storms too. Especially at night.