All original work © 2009 - 2017 Alexey Provolotsky

18 August 2010

STORMY WEATHER


The glass in the windows seemed agony-stricken. On the verge of bursting, it was wriggling and writhing desperately, as if injected with some deadly poison. And it was most surreal, to see the leaves floating by the beast-riddled windows in clumsy, erratic waves. Like Hitchcock’s birds they were, only without the guts. The colour was the issue: the colour was green, the kind of self-confident, intense green that betrayed the month of May. If they were yellow or brown, it all could pass for a lusty bitching of autumn. But as it was, green and falling, it seemed surreal. For the time being, there was no rain, but the gusty, ghastly wind was indeed already pregnant with it. The wind, the man felt, had little patience. Perhaps, if the man was outside he could already smell that densely refreshing smell of the upcoming rain that filled your head fast and heavy. But the man was keeping to his couch, which he liked doing in this kind of weather (waiting at the threshold, thrashing through every minute hole). Not that this weather was typical of the part of the country, but once in a while it did happen, that kind of stormy shake-up. That row of thunder, that weather’s vitriolic wrangle – he rather liked that.
Still the man sat up and looked at his wrist-watch, which was difficult because of the dim light. His slightly visible nose pecked the slightly more visible metal of the wristlet, which grew so cold, as if sensing the weather. It was 10 p.m. – like that, ten sharp; not the commonest of things. Checking time was no reason for sitting up, but lying down began to seem depressing. First, the atmosphere was dangerous yet strangely seductive. Inviting. Rather irresistible, the way your best friend’s miraculous mischief may seem irresistible. Secondly, there was the dog. He now thought he shouldn’t have let the dog out first thing in the morning. But then the morning was nothing like it was now – after all, one or two leaden, disheveled clouds rarely made it into something serious. The radio did not have a clue this time, TV never did, it all came out of the blue – this new sensation.
The more impatient grew the wind, the more silent the house; he thought it made sense. He listened up, but all he could get was his own nose restlessly whispering in tongues. The anticipation of whatever was coming was already orgasmic, which was the epithet, he felt, the selfless weather backed up with all of its natural, ingenious heart. He touched his hair, made hot and tousled by the couch and weirdly damp by perhaps something so entirely else. One hand on the breast, the other turned the radio on. The radio was merciless, though, it had no tact, it played bouncy pop music. He quickly scratched through other stations right from one side of the red line-indicator to the other, but the scientific talk-show on the origin of species was as close as he could get. Yet even that was no good, considering all the giddy laughs of the host and the upbeat tone of one of the more pessimistic female professors. Blast, explosion – what gains could that give? But the oddest thing of all was the absolute absence of any urgent weather reports, as if their house was the storm’s only target. As if all the mad howling outside his door merited no concern.
The radio switched off, the man’s thoughts were placed on the dog that should have returned long ago. Experienced and used to being on its own (which was why he agreed to get it in the first place), it nevertheless rarely left the house for more than three hours. The dog was mature, prone to wandering in the nearby woods, giving as little trouble as it could. He now thought the dog gave some delight too, seeing how he missed it. Now the bowl full of dog’s food was carefully, by a kid’s hand, fixed in the corner of the room, near the door. The bowl was untouched, and looked almost deserted, virgin. Unspoiled. The man felt he missed the dog, which made him uncomfortable and even somewhat angry with the poor creature, while the weather outside only kept intensifying his feeling. The man already missed the dog’s fidgety ways, its noisy sleep, its scraping on the door after a walk, ready to jump inside. Now, the room feeling more and more like a flimsy tourist tent, it was not happening. The old dog was not there on the porch. Where was it? The taut imagination pictured dead, heavy branches hitting living objects – the man felt he needed a glass of water.   
Drinking water then seemed like mocking at the present weather, or like merging with it, which was all right.
The man leaned his hands on the window-pane and pressed his forehead against the cool, jittery surface, letting the strangled glass pass all of the stormy germs right into him. It made him feel less subdued, or he believed it did. Not in the least frightened to be harmed, he nonetheless observed the trees with genuine awe. They looked like some toy rubbery rockets, unstable, ready to be launched any second from now. The moment the man felt his chin skinned by some thick smelling tentacles of a geranium standing on the window-sill, he also noticed the kite. Considering the circumstances, you could not find a more sorry, inappropriate, poise-free and lame foil. Its lanky, flaccid body was tied to a fence board and eagerly reflected each and every whim of the wind, making the man’s eyes watery from trying to follow the kite’s wild, incontinent and quite probably final contortions. A violent thought hit him rather hard: let the wind rip it goddamn out, into the air and far away. At last he gave in fully to the thought that he did hate that kite.
Only seconds later, though, the man put on a pair of woman’s frayed rubber slippers and went outside. Kite or not, the man knew that one cannot imagine what one does not, or has not experienced. ‘Whatever never happened to you always remains a secret’, which was the sad and unquenchable, roughly conjured truth he had recently dug out of Burroughs’ diary (diaries, biographies and dull, mechanically true-to-life newspaper articles being the only things he could read with anything remotely resembling interest or involvement, now that he slipped past twenty-seven – what’s so particular about twenty-seven?).
Outside the door the atmosphere was that of expectation, the weather being about to utter its grand, ominous sneeze. Out in the garden the wavy herds of grass kept stroking his feet, but he hardly felt that. Yet he could, for he stood motionless there in the garden, his head screwed up against the grey sky in a pathetic but still rather homely manner. His suddenly baggy clothes were following the kite’s busy ways, his pose lacked any purpose (the cloudy glacier of a sky so empty and monolithic, there was nothing to scrutinize), but was natural, almost unintentional. The man grew selfless there and then, and felt happy growing so, and wondered at the colour of the sky. He hesitated to call it grey, because the colour in question had long become so much more than just one shade of a palette. Grey was the state, temporary and permanent at the same time. Maybe there wasn’t meant to be any rain? The foreplay being it all?..
“Ah well”, – uttered the man, not without a weary sense of obligation, and came up to the fence. It was when he was removing the exhausted, spasmodic kite that the first drops of rain found him. Already when he no longer expected them, it was almost derisive. While the first floods of rain began rapping and raping through the ground, blind to particulars, the man hurried to the house. The kite, like an unconscious snake, was sloppily hanging from his careless grasp. The man hated the kite even more now, now that it tricked him into this rain. Back then he had to buy it out of his own intention and on his own accord, though. For the kid.
Closing the door behind his back, the wind helping him a great deal, he felt how hollow the inside of the house was. Outside he was in the whole thing, whereas inside he felt ousted. He was wet, which was unpleasant but exciting; and also terribly sad, even though he knew not why. Sad to the point of utter, uncontrollable, suffocating indifference.
The thunder, the lightning – it was as if he had triggered the whole thing off. Which was just a thought; although he believed that such thoughts were a well-spread sign of human weakness. Fastidiously and hurriedly yet with care he glued the heavy, downtrodden slippers off his feet, did the same thing, only with a bit less care, with the socks, which formed two formless black dots on the parquet floor. The man then removed his sweater, but decided to do nothing about the jeans. They were soaked all right, only he thought he could live with that.
While the rain kept swaddling the windows, the neurotic wind was squeezing, kneading the house, as if it were some hard-stale dough. He used to read of those who, when thunderstorms, felt shattered or even paralyzed. Sometime hit by a lightening, they carry their fright in blood, deepest caches of nerve-knots. The man thought he could understand those poor, madly excited souls, but could not feel their way – not anymore, even though he did try. Now it was hopeless: lightenings, when deep inside the storm, turn so mute that when you do not see the actual vascular sky, you just grow nonchalant. By being out there, he got the secret, cracked it open, but somehow rendered the secret useless. Occasionally even the mother-hen hatches the wrong egg, or does it too early, or too hard. And as for the thunder, it only made him long for the dog; as if thunder could harm it in anyway. But then dogs, cats, they came back, this day or another. They needed no patronizing and quite often even the slightest concern.
Defeated, trampled, the man returned to the couch. The initial excitement proved to be short-lived, while the storm began to grow more and more academic. Independent, shallow and, he dreaded the word, abstract.  
Back on the coach, he thought he was tired of finding symbols in books, so he was forced to bump into them in real life. And they kept terrifying him, making him do stupid yet mostly insignificant things. So he needled himself up from the couch and, as if from the force of inertia, felt tired. But before he had the time to decide to retire upstairs, he heard the familiar scrapings on the front door.
The dog hungrily, muddily barged inside, like a sloppy, reckless intruder that doesn’t give a damn, bombing the parquet with its heavy, familiar footsteps. The man locked the door again and, watching for a couple of very ordinary seconds how the dog squelched the food, proceeded to leave the room.
Yes, he felt tired. Ascending the silent, carpeted stairs, he thought about the weather in the sense that it’d better be warmer tomorrow. He dreaded waking up in the rain for it often caused a morbid, dull headache. But the rain sounded like forever.
Minutes later, mouth full of the minted, anaesthetized freshness of the toothpaste, he entered the dark, silent bedroom. Yet despite the mildewed, sterile silence, he distinctly heard two breaths and approached the bed with heavy caution. Their son tucked under her arm, they both slept and were unaware of his presence. His kiss could waken them, so he simply lay himself on the empty, barren side of the bed and tried to cure himself with sleep. It being Sunday’s midnight.

  
June, 2009 

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