Chase Hope 21

The next day Tanner slept, as he had become accustomed to do during daylight hours. When he woke it was dark. He lay in bed thinking. He felt despairing – for Amy and for Lola. He needed to get it out.

Sitting up, he flicked his beside light on and looked around the room. He leapt up and grabbed his sketch pad off his desk, and his pencil case.

Chase lay on the couch, gazing up at the ceiling, listening to his ipod. He was thinking about what Jack had said. Hope was due back in a few days. He hadn’t spoken to her, but they had been messaging to check on one another. He missed her so much that he could barely see straight. And then there was all the new information that Jack had told him about his past relationship with Hope’s mother. Should he tell her? How could he not tell her?

*

Tanner sensed the rain coming. He was reclining on his bed, doodling sketches of blackened inner yearnings, as the somber tones of Nirvana seeped through his headphones.

It was the smell of freshness that made him look up. He sat bolt upright, attuning all his senses to the changing atmosphere. The silence of the night was palpable. Casting his sketch pad aside, he suddenly darted toward the window and peered hopefully out through the blinds. A shudder of excitement rippled through his being. Anyone else would have seen nothing but dark normality. But Tanner saw the harboring of summer rain in the pregnant clouds. They were almost ready … almost ready to surrender their unanticipated purity to the parched earth.

Tanner waited. Before long he was not disappointed. In unison the clouds sighed a melody of sweet release, and let their rains pour forth. Outside Tanner’s window the land was suddenly bathed in a blanket of cascading water. Magnificent! With purpose, Tanner swung his bedroom door open and strode down the passage. Undressing himself as he walked, he threw his superfluous items of clothing haphazardly through the hallway. By the time he reached the lounge room he was removing his history jeans.

So focused was he, that he did not notice Chase lazing aimlessly on the couch. He did not see the look of utter bafflement on his face as Tanner stumbled in excitedly, grappling with his inconveniently placed pants. Chase stared in bewilderment, as Tanner ferociously battled with his pants before finally breaking free of them, triumphantly holding them up, and flinging them mercilessly onto the television. Without pausing for further reflection, Tanner puffed out his chest and headed toward the front door, in only his white jocks.

Catching him just before he disappeared, Chase furrowed his brow and took out his earphones. ‘Where the hell are you going?’

Having just opened the door, Tanner stopped dead and spun around, bracing himself with both hands on the door frame. With eyes like wildly hyperactive beacons, he animatedly, and quite matter-of-factually claimed, ‘It’s raining.’

As if no further explanation was required, he turned and hurtled out into the night.

Chase sat up and stroked his chin, wondering if he should be alarmed by this irregular nocturnal activity in his young and volatile friend. No, of course he shouldn’t – this was Tanner! It was no stranger than any other night this past week, Chase mused. Deciding that curiosity was the more pressing of his many current emotions, Chase padded after Tanner. Reaching the door that Tanner had so passionately exited, Chase leaned against the door frame and took in the scene before him.

Tanner was standing in the middle of the street, with his arms outstretched in the rain – in his underwear. Chase observed the spectacle for a moment. He then quietly turned and went into the kitchen. He opened the fridge and withdrew what he considered to be a very well-timed beer. Opening it calmly, he returned to the front door and leaned against it once more, as he took a long, refreshing swig. Tanner was spinning joyously with a huge, cheesy grin smeared across his wet face.

Chase’s curiosity finally got the better of him. ‘Tanner, what the hell are you doing?’ He yelled, with a combination of amusement and mild concern.

Tanner kept spinning as he bellowed, ‘It’s raining Chase! It’s summer and it’s pouring with rain!’

He let out a childish laugh filled with genuine mirth.

Chase smiled involuntarily and shook his head. Remaining calm and collected, he took another sip of beer and toyed with the ring of the can.

‘Ummm, Tanner?’ He queried,  ‘Far be it for me to rain on your parade, excuse the pun … but aren’t you supposed to be all heartbroken and messed up over some chick?’ He slowly looked up and squinted one eye as he waited for a response.

Tanner, far from being disturbed by such a description of the current state of his life, began frolicking through the swollen puddles. ‘I am. But it’s summer, and it’s pouring! It’s a beautiful thing no matter how I feel. The heavens don’t care. They’re raining to show me that beauty still remains, and will always remain, even when the small confines of my world are shattering. It’s a gift!

He stopped and looked at Chase. He pointed toward the lamp-post. ‘Look at that Chase! You see the way the light makes the rain glow like it’s suspended in time. It’s sublime, Chase! Sublime!’ And with that assessment he continued his mad, merry dance through the rain.

Chase stood dumbstruck – by no means an uncommon experience when around Tanner – but somehow this was different. Fuck, he thought, this kid knows more than I ever will.

*

Amy envied the rain as it fell outside her window. In her red hipster knickers and delicate white singlet, she curled up tighter on the chair, tucking her knee under her chin. Betrayal tangled her hair. Her face, with its remnants of ashen eye-shadow, was a portrait of withered dreams.

Turning away from the window, she glanced at the bed. Grotesquely illuminated in the moonlight was a disheveled man, laying askew on the white sheets, asleep.

A petite female form was crumpled up beside him. A lace pair of black panties was all she had to protect her from her own decisions. She lay prostrate, yet strangely angelic in the dappled light.

Amy looked back toward the rain for some kind of relief. The reflection that met her in the glass sickened her to the core of her being.

*

Tanner lay on the road, gazing up at the heavens. The water descended upon him with indefinable tenderness. The sky was a blank canvass of possibilities. The stars appeared as suggestions of magical experiences to come as they emerged through the unfolding clouds. The world was supremely beautiful.

Rain pooled beneath him. It seeped into his skin and began to heal his very soul. Immersed in the solace of the rain, his body purred harmoniously. He closed his eyes, feeling the droplets of purity smooth out the map of lines that heartache had drawn on his face. The cold blanketed his essence. It filled him with golden warmth, and made his fingers and toes tingle with renewed spirit.

He was as he should be. Everything was as it should be. Laughing, Tanner quickly got up and raced inside to draw a different picture – one of hope and fragility.

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