Out Into the Relentless Rain

Rain fell. It did not fall particularly heavy, but it fell without end and from every direction, and when one passed beneath shelter or an overhanging tree, there was not an ounce of respite; still, the rain fell. There was no way to escape the rain, other than to stay indoors, of course, but I could ill-afford to do that—a path to catfood—and so was forced this Saturday afternoon out into the relentless rain. There was nobody else on the pavement, I was alone. I cursed aloud to myself because I was terribly tired. Acid regurgitated up from my stomach every time I burped. My aching brain seemed to rattle around in my skull. Who would hear me? For a moment, I removed my coat, because it was so warm, but the rain fell harder so I redressed myself and cursed much louder. Cars went by only a few inches off the kerb; their tyres hissed, even underneath my headphones I could hear the tyres hissing. Through the wiped windows, I stared at the passengers and the passengers stared at me. The rainwater tickled through my hair and onto my brow and then down into my eyebrows and then into my eyes, blinding me, and down my nose into my whiskers and down my cheeks into my beard, into my mouth, down my throat. The water burned me! My complexion is as bad now as it has ever been; the rainwater irritated my skin, bringing me to claw at my face with my fingernails as I walked along the broken uneven pavement of Sandford Rd. 
    The river was turbulent, swollen, brown. It had scraped its way up the bank and was pulling at the roots of trees and grass. The tumult of its darkness and foamy edges were sinister indeed, as though if you fell in you were dead for sure. What was usually so serene beneath the road bridge had shown its true colours and promised to snatch your life! The current roared, blotting out all other sounds.
    The automobile interiors looked so dry and warm.
    I bought the catfood and went to another shop to look at laptop computers, where I pretended I knew what I was looking at, regarded the specifications and repayment plans, stroked my chin, squinted, puckered my lips in contemplation. Maybe soon someone might approach me, a member of staff, employee of the month, keen eye for a man of taste, who knows what he is after and knows how to sell it to him. Why yes, I am in the market for a laptop! Mine is dying, you see, the battery won’t last ten minutes, the fan is on its last legs, no memory left! At one point I even picked up the laptop and spun it in my hands, to get a feel for its weight. No one came over, not a single salesclerk. Only the rainwater was dripping off me. I hurried out.
    By then, I was soaked. A tissue I had been using to wipe my brow turned to mulch; my coat was dripping and two shades darker; my backpack had held for so long but then permitted water freely; my jeans weighed a kilo more; skin was red raw; bloodshot eyes; hair is disarray over my forehead. Walking home, past the prison, the hissing cars, I kept my head low, eyes never focusing on one thing but dozily drifting through space. Drains had been lifted by the rain. Lengths of road had flooded within the last hour. No longer did I care that the puddles came at me from the road, that the passengers were warm & dry as I tremored & dripped.
    Hah, forgive me—a pardon, please!—but I thought of Saturday past. I do not like dates but I am able to say that right now. My lawyer, Pride, encourages me to say that right now. I do not like dates.
    I finally found her on Tooley St. We walked eastwards and accidentally ordered the same thing at the fancy coffee shop off the cobblestone lane. She had made me laugh so hard I wept and scolded her—‘You’re going to hell, you know?’ She cared not. She was very easy to be around and at that moment, I wanted someone who was no trouble to be around. We took twenty-thousand steps over the steamy London streets. The man she had broken with after a decade had recently got married. She told me she was taking it slow, making time for herself. I could say nothing to her on that, however I could make her laugh. We excelled at making each other laugh. As winter’s dusk descended, we never stopped talking and laughing.
    I thought it might become something. The next day she told me she did not feel a romantic vibe. It was okay. It has no choice but to be okay. Most of all I thought it might be something when we stopped in at another café and she queued for the toilet. She queued and mimed words at me, messaged and we laughed, tiny in-jokes but eager. Such moments hold considerable weight in my estimations, but I realise—delayed, in my late-thirties—that what might be something important to me is only trivial to someone else. I had a lot of fun hanging out with you though and would happily be friends, if that’s something you’d be interested in?
    My rainwet clothes slapped to the hallway floor. Blotchy red skin and every crease stung as my expression was manoeuvred before the mirror. Needles in the hot shower. This time last week, I thought. The cat watched me from the bathmat, where she had formed a neat shape, all limbs tucked in, a tail wrapped round, her green eyes—always brightest in the bathroom—looking up at me. The heating pipework creaked, then it became dark outside. The rain still fell. I could no longer hear the raindrops with my head on the pillow.