I'll get wet, he said.
Yep, I said, because the rain was coming down and rolling off the roof in a line driving holes in the dirt, washing down the parking lot gutter in an anrgy little stream of sticks and worms and cigarette butts and litter left lying on the pavement, sweeping slanting out of the sky so hard you could hear each drop pop as it hit the earth.
Oh man, he said.
You'll get wet, I said, and then what'll happen?
I don't like to get wet.
Not like you'll melt.
Well, he said, and he ran. He bent over, stooped with his back to the sky and held his newspaper up over his head and he ran. Grey spots hit his paper and then it went limp, dripping down bits of pulp and ink on his hair. The water ran through his shirt, leaking blue down his back and sticking to his skin so you could see the mole on his shoulder.
He ran, fingering for his keys in his pocket while he ran and trying to shuffle them into the slot in the door without stopping. He had to stop though, putting down the paper and bending over, bending at the knees to look at the keyhole and then it caught and he turned the key but I couldn't hear the click over the rain.
I stood under the stoop feeling the rain as it came up off the ground in shattered drops. I was drinking coffee in the afternoon and watching the storm roll down past Ohio and Kentucky, through Tennessee and down to me and Atlanta. First it pushed up a wind that looked brown and blew bits of things across the highways and covered over the skyline of skyscrapers. Then it came over like a wall falling down.. It leaked through roofs and found all the cracks in the concrete and rattled on the leaves so the whole city had the sound of shaking.
Some people pray for rain and some people pray against it. There are old rituals for rain and, I imagine, rituals against it. Sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn't and sometimes it comes too late. Nobody knows why. Even if I didn't believe in redemption, I'd believe in rain.
The water dripped down his face. He shook his head and pushed back his hair. Probably his air was running in a rush of a hushing noise to drown out the sound of the storm and blowing heavy like a dryer on his face. He looked in his mirror and checked his teeth and I smiled and looked at the falling sky.