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"The Window"

(The writer sits by the open window in his comfortable room,
his feet propped up on the sill.
He holds a yellow legal pad and a felt tipped pen.
This is what he writes): 
"Twilight in the afternoon.
Only two o'clock, but looking more like seven.
Cold front moving in.
Big soft raindrops begin slapping down random leaves
on the bush that leans against the window.
The tempo of the rain picks up.
The local bluejays complain hoarsely.
Or maybe they think they're singing. 
Now the breeze turns to wind, and the trees are thrashing around.
It begins to rain on your feet.
Feeling rugged and outdoorsy, you defy the elements.
The feet stay!
Suddenly, unexpected lightning, and then thunder. Wow!
The feet come down.

Rain splotches appear on your writing paper,
and the blowing curtains drape over your head,
creating a Mona Lisa effect.
From somewhere across the lake, a train whistle.
A sound often described as "lonesome",
but more like "unrestful".
A moving sound, a signal to the wanderer inside us.

You turn on the lamp and security fills the room.
The sky and lake are a lighter gray now. You reopen the window.
The rain is letting up, mostly just the eaves dripping.
A squirrel checking out the wet garage roof.
The air smells different now:
Washed vegetation, damp wood, supper cooking.
And it's colder.
The feet return to the window sill in fuzzy socks
from the bottom of the drawer.
A rainstorm is not bad from the inside, looking out.
You recall other dark stormy days, in bleak, hopeless places.
You were alone, cold, and it was no fun."

(That is all he puts on paper because his eyes are closed.
He dozes off.)

The cop says, "Come on. You can't sleep here".
He's lying on cement, covered with a large piece of cardboard.
He opens his eyes and sees the inside of a parking garage.
There are oil spots in the empty parking spaces. It's chilly.
He says: "What the hell?"

The cop nudges him with his nightstick. "Come on, buddy. Let's go."
He struggles to his feet, aching all over.
"I gotta get home", he says. "My wife's cooking supper."
The policeman says: "Uh-huh".

Out on the pavement he tries to get his bearings.
The street is lined with old warehouses and dirty brick buildings.
Unfamiliar.
Some of the second story windows have old shades,
or shreds of curtain, as though somebody once lived there.
The sky is clouded over gray. No telling what time it is.
It looks like rain.

He picks a direction at random and starts walking,
collar turned up against the wind,
hands deep in his pockets in search of warmth.
A paper cup blows along the gutter.
He thinks about the dream he had before the cop woke him up.
Something about a warm house, and the smell of dinner cooking.

He feels for a wallet, knowing it wouldn't be there.
There is some change in his pocket, and a half smoked cigarette.
By long habit, he's looking for the edge of the city,
so he can hitch a ride to a smaller town where help is easier to get.
Big cities don't care.

He's almost across the city when the rain starts and the chill sets in.
He spends some of his change on coffee at a Burger King,
and is now entering the suburbs.

The storm comes up fast and he ducks into a doorway.
Lightning, and then thunder, almost at once. That was close!
Now he's cold and wet.
He's not going to make it out of town tonight.
He's got to find a place place to get out of the weather.

He leaves the doorway and turns down a tree lined side street,
with a small lake on the left, and sturdy old houses on the right.
Lights are on in some of the windows.
It must be nice.
Across the lake he sees some boathouses
that might help him get dry.
This street probably goes right around there.

He sees a house that looks strangely familiar.
Maybe a look-alike from his mostly forgotten past.
Now he sees the first person he's really looked at all day.
There's a guy in an open window with his feet up on the sill,
in this weather! He must be nuts!
It's been raining on his feet, and he's sound asleep!
The curtains have blown up around his head,
like some kind of a bandanna.
He turns and walks away, shaking his head at the stupidity,

On a day like this,
if you have a window,
you should close it.

Copyright  July 8, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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