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.