by Miles Rost
Lacey Opheim sat under the bus stop canopy, trying her hardest to stay out of the downpour that was currently plaguing the city she lived in. Summertime was always a worrysome time for the rains, especially if they came early. On this early July afternoon, the rain was coming down in buckets and showed no signs of letting up.
It fit her mood perfectly.
She sat and looked out over the rice fields of her city, trying to make sense of all that had happened. She looked out and sighed heavily, knowing that when she arrived at work, hell was going to break loose and she was not going to be all that pleased about the results. As the editor of a foreign language newspaper, it was her responsibility to take care of errors and issues, and she had a big one run through the morning edition like a runaway freight train.
She sat under that canopy as though it were a dark cloud. She barely even noticed when a young man walked in from the rain.
“Mind if I sit here?”
She waved him in, without taking a second look at him. An awkward silence filled the air
“Looks like today it’s really coming down,” he said, leaning back and relaxing his elbows on the railing behind him.
She didn’t say anything, and just kept staring at the rice fields across the road.
The man just smirked.
“I can spot bad weather. I’m good at finding shelter in a downpour. And, I can also see when someone’s got a whole lotta world on their shoulders.”
She looked up at him with a face full of ‘go away’ written all over it.
“And I’ve seen that face too many times to mention,” the man said.
Lacey saw that the man was Asian, either Japanese or Korean. She didn’t really know the difference, as she was “one of those ignorant foreigners”. She also noticed that the asian man was wearing a stetson, but otherwise was soaked through.
“You’re going to catch a cold if you don’t take care of those wet clothes,” she responded, hoping that he would leave her alone.
“Young lady, I’ve been through too many rainstorms to have to worry about my clothes. I make it a regular event to walk in a downpour.”
She turned her head back to the rain and the fields.
“You’ve got a foggy feeling, you’re feeling down. If you don’t clear your head, you just may drown. In your gloominess, that is.”
“So what are you supposed to be, sir? Some sort of a rain-soaked counselor?”
The man just chuckled.
“Well, I reckon that I am merely here waiting for the bus downtown, and that you have something going on that you are just wanting to get off your chest.”
She sighed, as he hit the nail on the head.
“I made a major error. One that could get me fired. And it wasn’t even something I knew about. It was just automatic approval.”
“What was it?”
“If you saw the front page of today’s newspaper, you’d be likely to see the error.”
“You mean the headline story about how the mayor was suspected of having an illicit affair even though everyone seems to know that it was not true?”
She groaned at this.
“What if I told you that when you go into work today, you’re not going to be fired? You’re not going to be yelled at. Nothing will happen to you.”
Her head swiveled towards him quickly.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m no stranger to the rains, lady. I’m a friend of thunder, lightning strikes me and I don’t get hurt.”
Lacey blinked at him, waiting for the punchline.
“Let me put it another way. The story was not in error. And just before you exit the elevator on your floor, the floor with the editors and the desk jockey journalists, you will be given a notice about a developing story about the mayor’s resignation due to accusations of sexual assault by no less than five teenage girls.”
Her mouth just dropped.
“How do you know this? How the hell do you know all of this?”
The man chuckled, as he pulled out his cell phone and smiled.
“I’m the mayor’s chief of staff. I know his secrets, and I’ve been waiting to tell them to someone.”
Lacey looked at him, and fell backwards into unconsciousness.
The news, simply, overloaded her brain.