here’s that rainy day

Funny how love becomes
A cold rainy day…
Funny
That rainy day is here

 

I met Faith one rainy day in Chinatown.

I came in to escape a downpour, and there she was in her raincoat, sipping coffee and smiling. She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, but more than that, I was captivated by her radiant smile.

Her eyes brightened in recognition—as if she had been waiting for me all her life.

I’ve never been suave, especially with women—I’m terribly bashful and socially inept, but with Faith, it was different.

I walked over to her table grinning as if we planned to meet, and said; “I think we’ve both been rained upon enough today. May I join you?”

She was wearing a colorful scarf to keep her hair dry and she took it off, shook out her bright copper locks and lit up the room. “Buy me lunch, and I’ll say yes.”

How could I refuse?

Now, I’m standing by our curtainless window staring at gloomy sky, white drop cloths over the furniture and wondering how the years sped by.

 

“I’m worried about our finances, Jay.”

Her brow was furrowed with worry lines. She had curled up on one end of the couch, clinging to a brown velour throw cushion as if it were a teddy bear.

‘Why worry, Babe? It always works out. You know writers—it’s a fine madness, but all it takes is one best seller and we’re back in the black again.”

“But I always feel I’m in the black, Jay—and it’s not a good place to be—under a dark cloud, uncertain what the future may bring.”

“Don’t we always get by?”

She shifted uncomfortably, her face a scowl, as she stared into the fire. “We do get by somehow, but it can’t go on forever, Jay. Whatever happened to that old adage about saving for a rainy day?”

“There’s no writers’ pension fund if that’s what you mean. But you knew that when you married me.”

I knew my words had an edge, but I also knew she had a point. I’m a natural pessimist and figure I’m only one bad decision away from losing everything. Maybe that’s why I act reckless.

“It’s okay for you, Jay, but you’re gambling with my future here too. If something happened to you, where would I be?”

“Probably married to a banker from Bay Street.”

I regretted the words the moment they were out of my mouth—it was a low blow.

Faith was a commodities investor working for a major bank. She was all futures—investments and dividends. I was free-spirited and careless.

Maybe that’s why it worked for us then—but that was then, and this was now. She had a point, and I couldn’t always go by the emotion of the moment.

“Look Babe, I’m sorry—you’re right. I’m wrong. I’ll make an appointment at the bank tomorrow. I promise.”

And that’s how my relationship began with Vanity Hall.

 

“You’re wife is right, Jay—you’ve made a ton of dough, but you’re all over the map in your investments. I don’t see any strategy here at all—and certainly nothing that would secure your future.”

Vanity folded her shapely legs, tilting them to one side, and combed her perfectly manicured talons through her silky blonde hair.

There’s something sensual about grooming rituals, subliminal or not—and something fascinating about impossibly long red nails.

Come to think of it, everything about her was fragile and brittle—stilettos and lipstick-red nails. She was a slender, porcelain ballerina pirouetting on a pin.

Now, she was staring intently at me, fixing me with her enormous dark eyes. “You’re lost aren’t you?”

I was truthfully. My feelings were on a runaway train and I was watching it leave the station.

“I call this lipstick and high heel syndrome,” she chuckled softly. “It’s similar to white coat effect, when you’re in the doctor’s office having your blood pressure checked. Financial planning can be stressful.”

She was right. I would hate to have my blood pressure checked right now. It was caused by lipstick and high heels all right, but had nothing to do with the state of Bay Street.

“Are you finding it hard to concentrate?” she asked.

I blushed, thinking she read my thoughts, but before I could make some lame excuse, she went on, “Board rooms are ‘bored’ rooms, as they say, and somehow stuffy surroundings aren’t congenial to a relaxed perspective.”

She glanced at her watch. “It’s almost noon—why don’t we get out of here and continue our conversation over lunch?”

My heart began racing and I could hear the blood pulsing in my ears. “Sure—why not?”

I said it with feigned indifference, but had to clench my hands to conceal the trembling.

“I’ll clear up a few details here and meet you at Coro’s in about fifteen minutes. How does that sound?”

“Sounds like a plan,” I said.

There was a gleam in her eye. “Order me cab sav and fettuccine alfredo.”

“No salad?” I croaked.

“Do I look like I need to eat salad?” she grinned mischievously.

“No,” I grinned back, “definitely not.”

 

There were fifteen minutes between my decision and her arrival. I felt like Prufrock—strangely empowered, yet powerless.

“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

I was sitting in a window booth and it had begun to rain. I thought of another restaurant on another day, and a smile so radiant, it made the clouds go away.

“I got rained on.”

It was Vanity, droplets sparkling like jewels in her hair, giggling at her little misadventure while men’s heads in the restaurant turned her way.

It was intoxicating. I was drowning in chains of seaweed while my Siren was preening and turning men to stone.

“I cleared my calendar for the afternoon.”

We clinked glasses and wordlessly toasted our freedom, and I pushed aside a mountain of guilt.

 

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

Breton slid open the panel behind the grate and the Good Father listened to a sad refrain—one he had heard many times before—just not from me.

“Have you told Faith?”

“No. I don’t think I can.”

He nodded as if understanding, but even he had to pause and stare off into space. “I thought you two had something special—I suppose no one is immune from the weakness of the flesh.”

It was my turn to nod.

“You’ve ended it, of course?”

I stared at him and blinked.

His countenance fell. “Oh Jay—you know I can’t absolve you. If you’re  bent on continuing in this sin, it would be a sacrilege—living a lie. You have a choice—either admit it, or quit it. There’s no other way.”

“I sighed. “I know it, Father—I guess I just had to hear you say it.”

I left with no absolution, no penance—other than that huge mountain of guilt I was carrying on my back. I carried it two more months because I couldn’t let her go.

I left her a dozen times over those months—tear-stained and desolate, yet I always returned. In the end I was found out, as inevitably, I knew that would be the way things would fall out for me.

“What are these charges at the Park Hotel?” She was asking, but the crumpled MasterCard statement, said she already knew.

“Is it over?”

I shook my head.

“It is now.”

 

Three months and thirty thousand dollars in lawyers’ fees brought me to where I am now.

I’m standing by our curtainless window staring at a gloomy sky, white drop cloths over the furniture and wondering how the years sped by.

What happened to that adage of saving for a rainy day? Faith is gone and Vanity is too… with a banker from Credit Suisse near King and Bay.

I have my absolution. I’m living my penance every day.

Funny how love becomes
A cold rainy day…
Funny
That rainy day is here to stay.

© 2014, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.

Posted in short stories | Comments Off

where or when

It seems we stood and talked like this before
We looked at each other in the same way then
But I can’t remember where or when

I write you poems you’ll never read and fantasize a life with you. I found a house— with a turret for me, and glassed-in conservatory for you.

And everything would be perfect, if we could meet, but I don’t know where or when that would be.

I shake my head sadly, crumple the note into a ball, and toss it into the fire. Another lost Friday night in a series of desolate forays into the void. Hell, today, I turned thirty-five—Happy Birthday, Me—what will I do for the rest of my life?

I pour out the last of the Yellow Tail, toast my shadowy walls and get up and stare out the window at the rain.

She’s out there somewhere right now, waiting for me—Plato said it, and I believe it—my other half is out there longing for me, and for all I know, staring into the rain.

I suppress a wry smile that slowly turns to a yawn, and find myself wending my way back to my bedroom, calling it a night at eleven o’clock.

Happy Birthday, Me.

 

“Have you got any other books about romance? —I’ve read all of Nicholas Sparks. I need something new.”

I look at the older woman—she’s beautiful, sophisticated and lonely—comes in every Monday looking for a fantasy to sustain her through her lunch break. She’s a lot like me.

“Have you considered reading a classic novel, Mrs. Winslow—something like Wuthering Heights?”

“Oh, I don’t know if I could wade through Victorian English—I hated Shakespeare in school.”

I smile, “that was then, this is now—you’re more mature and have more life experience—you’ll understand Bronte, and this kind of love story is exactly what you’re looking for.”

She looks at me narrowly, assessing my words, and then her face brightens. “You know, I think you’re right, Paul—I shouldn’t sell myself short—and you’ve never steered me wrong in the past.”

I fetch the novel, tuck in a complimentary bookmark and ring up the sale. “Try it for a few days—if it’s not your cup of tea, bring it back and I’ll find you something else.”

She reads the inside cover. An intense, lyrical portrayal of love—two souls whose passions entwine… “Sounds marvelous, Paul.”

She leaves with a sunny smile on her face.

It does sound marvelous, but I’m beginning to lose faith.

 

That night I watch a film on TV—Bell, Book & Candle.

I love the plot, love Kim Novak’s purring voice and see myself like Jimmy Stewart, minus being engaged—okay, and minus the lucrative career in publishing. But basically, we’re the same—two shmucks looking for love and not finding it.

It’s raining again and I go to bed with the haunting melody of Stormy Weather playing in my head.

I have a dream. I’m at a party, which would be a first for me, since I hate that kind of shallow foppery—yeah, it’s a well-rehearsed line that’s my apology for my non-existent social life.

Anyway, I’m off by myself on a balcony, staring at the rain, when I hear a girl come into the bedroom behind me. She’s crying, and sits on the edge of the bed.

I come in and do something really weird for me—I sit down beside her to comfort her. She turns her tear-stained face to me—and I kiss her.

Not a word is exchanged—but I am set afire by her lips. Her mouth tastes cold and fresh as if she just finished an icy drink—and those cold kisses totally inflame me—completely possess me.

I have no idea where we are, but everything looks so familiar. She’s whispering to me, telling her name and where she lives and all I can think about are those cold, lingering kisses—and I want to plunder her lips again.

And then, I wake up in my cold bedroom—shadowy rain trails from the light outside patterning the walls. And I am more bereft and desolate than I have ever been.

I go back to sleep and try to re-dream the dream—it’s futile. It always is. But, it was incredibly real, if only I could remember her name, or where she lives.

This goes on all night—flashes of her lovely face—tantalizing fragments of conversation—whispers filling my head, but nothing tangible I can pursue.

The next day is spent in a fog, being half-in and half-out—reviewing every aspect of my dream and exasperating myself.

It goes on like that all week. I even purchase a copy of the film and watch it again in a vain attempt to recreate the mood—no luck.

On Friday afternoon, I’m locking the shop, when a streetcar rumbles by—it triggers a familiar feeling inside.

I abandon my car and run to the corner stop—fortunately, the light is red and I’m able to climb aboard. So far, so good—but what now? 

The streetcar rumbles west, heading out of downtown, and I sit and stare out the window at shop windows sliding past and wonder where the world is hiding her—my nameless, faceless soul mate with the cold, cold kisses.

The streetcar rumbles along for a half hour until it approaches the end of the line. There’s a loop in the park where it stops and something prompts me to get off.

Okay, I’m standing on the edge of a park, not knowing why. Yup—that about sums up my life—well, not quite—it begins to rain.

I watch the lighted windows of the streetcar fade in the distance as a cold wind picks up. I turn up the collar of my Harris Tweed sports coat, do up the two buttons, and begin walking up Parkside Drive in the direction of the subway.

“Paul Laine! Is that you?”

I turn to see Ernie, my old friend from university—I haven’t seen him in years.

“I don’t believe this,” he crows, “what are you doing out in this neck of the woods—did you get tired of Rosedale?”

I shake my head. “Naw, nothing like that Ernie—I just had this urge to take a ride on the old Red Rocket—a bit of nostalgia, I guess—you know me.”

He throws an arm around me and I smell alcohol off his breath. “I do know you, Pal—and I miss you—that’s why you’re coming home with me. It’s my birthday today and Irene threw me a party.”

“Ah no, I can’t do that, Ernie, “ I protest, “I have to get home—it’s getting late.”

Ernie’s bug eyes pop—he always struck me as a walking case of goiter, or something.

“Wadda ya mean, late?” he growls. “Hell, it’s just seven-thirty. C’mon along—you’ll know most of the people—they’re our old crowd from collge. You like nostalgia—live a little.”

“Well, I guess I can stay for a bit,” I concede.

He slaps me hard on the back, and exhales a boozy whoop, “That’ s the old Lainey I used to know.”

We walk back though side streets, until Ernie turns up the walk of an old Victorian manse—a beautiful stately home with two wrap-around porches—one on ground level, and the other on the second floor.

Irene greets us at the door—she looks prettier than I remember and seems genuinely happy to see me.

“Look who Ernie brought,” she calls out merrily to the guests. I’m instantly surrounded by aged, familiar faces.

This is Dante’s Purgatory—Ernie’s my guide, and I’m expiating past sins.

Eventually, someone hands me a glass of cab sav, and I retreat into the bowels of the great house, ostensibly wanting to check out the architecture—but actually, just wanting to check out.

I find my way to the second floor and wander through a few rooms until I spot some French doors that lead to the upper verandah. I go outside, take a deep breath and inhale the scent of Maples and rain. I like this house and the street.

I could live here, I tell myself.

I hear a noise behind me—someone enters the room. I shrink back into the shadows to escape detection, until I hear a familiar sound. A girl is crying.

I peek through the glass of the French doors and see a girl, sitting on the edge of the bed, head down, shoulders heaving.

Instinctively, I go to her, sit down and begin comforting her.

She pulls back the tresses of her long blonde hair and looks up at me. She is lovely, and oh, so vulnerable.

I lean in to console her and find my lips drawn to hers. Her mouth is cold and I become lost in a dream of cold, cold kisses.

Her name is Sarah—Sarah Bashert, and ironically lives only a few blocks away from me. She’s a flutist with the Toronto Symphony, and like me, is seeking a reason to get up each day and continue walking around.

I suggest we do just that—share her umbrella and walk in the rain.

Turns out, she loves stormy weather, and fires at night and streetcar rides. So far, so good—everything seems remarkably familiar. We spend the night listening to blues in an all-night coffee house.

At 3 am, I take her home and kiss her outside her door. It’s all so natural.

It seems we stood and talked like this before and looked at each other in the same way then…But I can’t remember where or when.

 

© 2014, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.

Posted in short stories | Tagged , | Comments Off