I realize (have for some time realized) that I ceased offering a bit of creative writing on weekends. Even though I have hundreds of old poems to cannibalize or use, I just havenʼt had time to do much of anything. (Yes, The Lovely One does keep me busy, pleasantly — usually shopping with her —, on weekends, when the job isnʼt consuming all my time and energy). However, as I remarked some time ago, I have been writing (on and off) over the past few months. Just to prove that point, hereʼs a little introduction of a Tourist story (the direction of which, and even location, I donʼt know). This bit may never become a story.
It really should be just a writerʼs notebook passage describing pretty much what I was seeing as I sat in Janetʼs car while she shopped at Kohlʼs in Cedar Rapids on a rainy Sunday a few weeks ago.
Sitting in a rain-drenched parking lot, safely dry inside my rental car, I realized that modern vehicles make it pretty difficult to conduct surveillance unobtrusively in a downpour. With the ignition off, the view through the windshield was a splotched and ragged kaleidoscope, the side windows heavily speckled with continuing and sometimes sliding arcs of raindrops. But if I turned the key even to the Accessories position for the wipers to work, I also instantly illuminated the parking lights fore and aft, obviously marking my Chevrolet as not just another deserted car parked outside the mini-mall. Bad tactics, particularly in this situation.
Furthermore, either my breath or body heat was slightly, slowly but continually misting the windscreen. Another easy indication that I was inside. That I was here. And the rain was too heavy to risk starting the car briefly for a reprieve via defrost and lowering the window just to crack even the humidity within. Although I did just that, also illuminating the headlights and letting the wipers take a cleansing swish or two.
Now, although I continued to let the radio play (it remained on, even with the key withdrawn, until I opened the door, I had finally discovered accidentally just the night before, returning in some haste to my hotel room, eager to reach my temporary domicile before a testing phone call rang through), I could hear the wind battering at the vehicle as it wrenched the paltry trees, bordering the street, in wild gyrations. And the rain was letting up. Lightning flashed among the clouds over the increasingly agitated saplings and evergreens. The car rocked and jolted more than mildly.
Tornado? To follow the three-day thunderstorms. Or was it just a lot of wind? The radio just kept playing antique rock songs I had never liked, nor my father either.
Still no evident action within the store I was amateurishly observing. And as the wind kept things moving — a woman scurried right beside me to her car, taking advantage of the rainfallʼs lull, but had a confusing time trying to get her long windwhipped hair to stay within her car until she could slam the door and drive away; an empty fastfood enormous cup came leaping and rocketing past her passenger side just as she did restrain her hair and close the door together — the rain must have increased again because my view was broken erratically once more with drops and rivulets. And I hadnʼt been watching the store. Again.
And as the car jumped some more, I realized that with the window slightly down, I was feeling chilled. Injudiciously, I twisted the key past On, and as the wipers swished twice, raised the window again.
Now I didnʼt do any of the things (except perhaps try to lower the window to balance the relative humidity within and without) that the first-person character does in the passage. And Janet drives a Toyota, too. My mind got interested in the differences my GOV revealed in its operations. Nor was I engaged in surveillance (merely reminded of the rainy watch Marlowe keeps for a chapter on the upscale porn shop in The Big Sleep). But, see, kids, I was writing…
The Tourist character is having a busy time in my mind and notebook, by the way. I am fifteen or sixteen (handwritten) pages into his Big Encounter in Seattle as well as nearly to the brutal climax of his flight home from Europe to Chicagoʼs OʼHare. The San Francisco story is complete (for many months now) and needs dictation into digital form, as I just did yesterday with this bit of nothingness.