Weather Disturbance, Part One


Apr 3, 2004


The Bottom Line Life during a typical winter snowfall. Copyright 2004 David Macdonald

You'll probably find this story rather boring.... I know that I do! It isn't nearly as scandalous as my previous work -- it's just a story of a family during the first snowfall of the season. So take of it what you will.....


1.


The late afternoon air broke against the flesh, forming newly transparent cuts that bled synthetically and profusely.

A major snowfall affected Prince Edward Island throughout the entire day. The skies had clouded over late the previous evening, and suffered the bloating pain of retaining all that precipitation. The clouds were bound to snap open eventually......

..... and as the night exchanged places with the morning, the clouds indeed could not restrain themselves any longer. At first, the skies would merely tease playfully, as only thin white freckles of snow meandered along the atmosphere.

But the society upon the ground was not tempted by the playfulness. The public schools were ordered closed for the day, while the occasional government service also did not bother to face the incoming weather, since civil servants surely could not risk their lives over a few inches of soft frozen water on the ground.

So the clouds no longer bothered to tease, and switched to pure bullying. The snow became heavier, wetter -- smearing itself across car windshields, clinging to pine needles and torn barks from trees, touching people’s faces with its sugary tears.

The air itself followed the cloud’s lead, and exhaled its force through the city structures.

The combination was enough to send many people back to the safety and comfort of home, even as they had already arrived at their usual location, expecting a long day of work.

But not everybody was fortunate to wait out the storm on their sofa, in front of the television set.

Rick was open for business. His pizzeria would never cease operation, unless, maybe, a war broke out on University Avenue. But even warriors would get hungry.

And so did the ones who had no desire to fight. They may have had the belief that certain essentials would still operate in inclement weather. Like a fast food joint.

One person did have expectations of prompt delivery, even in ten centimeter snow and fifty-kilometre an hour winds. A manager of a call center, which also would never cease operations.

And so Rick himself had to drive the car to get to him.

Teenagers. You can always count on them to skip work, when they had the chance. Especially during a snowstorm. The regular delivery boy said that he couldn’t make it. His car was stuck in the driveway. Obviously , shovels and an extra body to help push you out were in short supply.

But it didn’t matter too much. There was still someone behind the counter to wait on the stragglers who braved walking on foot. And this order, this one order to a powerful and arrogant businessman, was the only thing he was worried about at this moment. So Rick took his own car out, up the long and unbending path of St. Peter’s Road, with this one significant and urgent pizza.

The road was long and unbending, but not without the occasional break -- as in the stoplights that were up ahead. From thirty feet away, Rick could see that the light was on red. So he put his foot on the brake.

But he didn’t seem to be slowing down very much. He pushed his feet further downward. But the tries did not grip. The car gently swerved off its line of direction. Rick was going to slide right into the center of the intersection.

Rick was not in fear of physical injury. He was only driving at 40 km per hour on a quiet small town street. Nevertheless his body twitched from the inside with the sickening anticipation of a regretful event..........



Smack!


Another car, with the right of way, made contact with Rick’s front left corner. At least that stopped him from swerving any further. It didn’t stop Rick from uttering profanities,
however.

“Goddamn it.”

He thrusted his fist upon the steering wheel. Then a few more vulgarities burned the frigid air, before Rick stepped out of the car, to ascertain the damage, to the vehicles, and his own pride...........


2.


Barbara’s day was quiet.

Her job at the government agency ceased due to the inconvenience of the snow. Some people may speak that the government would use any excuse to take the day off, but Barbara wasn’t the one who made the rules. She had to switch on the radio, as with any other citizen on the province, to find out whether her life would be forced to adapt to the inclement weather, or grind to a halt.

She was used to driving to work while her two kids were in transit to their respective schools. Between nine to five, Barbara would be behind a desk, on the phone, rifling through files, take an hour lunch break. Today, however, her safe routine was unsettled, but instead of more challenging work, she was left with nothing to do.
She made herself a tea, and sat down. It was 8 30 am. She drank it, giving herself a sip or two every thirty seconds or so, in hopes that her dilatory tasting would quicken the sluggish daylight.

The ceramic cup soon became deep, gloomy and empty.

Barbara’s eyes lingered within the cup, vainly hoping that there was a puddle of liquid somewhere within that cup that she could lap up. But there was not.

She looked away from the dissatisfactory cup, and to the cold, staring face of the clock. Its expression was uncaring, placidly telling her that it was still only 9 am -- still only three hours until noon.

Thank god she wasn’t working today. This would have been one of those days.

She carried her empty teacup to the kitchen sink, its graying surface strewed with other dishes from the night before.

Her son Leon was usually pretty good with the dishes. This semester, he only had three class per day, and every second day, he had a free period after two pm, which meant that he could go immediately from school to home. And clean the kitchen.

He was pretty good with stuff like that. Maybe he’d make a good husband someday.


...... but today was different. The kids were home from school, and she was home from work. She needed something to do. So she gave her son a rest for the day........


........ and now, the time was around 4:30 pm. The dull, cloudy sky was becoming more so -- as it fell into a dim, gray twilight. Even if the storm were to miraculously let up, there would be little incentive to enjoy the acquired peace of the afternoon.

Leon had emerged from the den downstairs to make an appearance in the kitchen. He observed to his delight how well-preserved the elements of the kitchen were.

“Hey, this place looks spotless!”, he joked.

“Yes. Aren’t you glad it’s a storm day?”, Barbara jibed. “Your mother has to find less meaningful way to fill her time.”

Leon opened the fridge, removing the juice carton from the top shelve. “... Like doing my chores!”, he smiled wickedly. “You’re the best mom a son could ever have!”

Barbara frowned in jest. Leon had began to remove an empty glass from the cabinet, when he glanced again at his mother.

“Do you want some?”, referring to the juice.

“No, thank you... my kidneys are probably already pleased at the amount of tea I today. I don’t have the yearning to explode from yet another drink.”

“Wow, that’s a pretty extensive excuse for not drinking a glass of juice!”

“You’ll remember never to ask me for a drink again, I suppose you’ll say, huh?”

“Exactly.”

Leon carries his full glass of orange juice with him to the kitchen table, across from Barbara.

“It’s great to see you around here today, kid.”, Barbara commented, confiding her genuine feelings instead of the playful barbs of earlier.

“Christy would have been bouncing off the walls at this point if I didn't allow her to go out with Emily for a walk.”

“Obviously, TV doesn’t keep a kid happy any more...”, Leon guffawed. “It did with me during storm days.”

“Yea.... all you did was sit in front of the idiot box, watching cartoons. While I complained that you didn’t get yourself moving and enjoy the fresh air.”, Barbara stated. “.... and now I’m doing the reverse, and wondering why Christy would be so eager to walk out during a snowstorm instead of staying here where it’s nice and warm. Why is that?”

“Well...... you’re just confused.”, giving a toothy grin.

“Gee, thanks!”, she muttered.

“I don’t think I’ll staying here where it’s nice and warm for too much longer either.” He takes another gulp of his juice. “I’m hoping to walk over to Erica’s in a few minutes.”

Erica was one of Leon’s friends. A mere friend, apparently, since Leon never revealed any incriminating evidence concerning anything else. Unless he was concealing some vital facts. Erica was a sweet girl, with a cute, fresh face. It wasn’t entirely plausible that something could happen between them. But what business was it of Barbara’s, she herself might say?

“So what’s going on with her?”, Barbara asked.

“I’m not sure.....”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, she’s... she’s moving to another province, actually....”, he spoke somberly.

Barbara’s eyes squinted, as she found herself close to irritation from this unexpected revelation.

“Really! When did she decide on this?”

“Just .... just a few weeks ago actually. It seemed like a whim for her, really. One day, me and Erica and Matthew and Vicky were sitting around in the basement and Erica told us all that she was taking off in a few weeks. To Vancouver!”

“Does she know anyone there?”

“No, not really. Not unless you count all those faceless strangers she talks to on MSN.”, referring to the instant messaging service that many bored internet users employed to talk to many invisible friends from many parts of the world.

“Hmm.... interesting... but maybe they’ll help her out, help her get around town.”

“Perhaps so....”

“So what is she going to do there?”

“I don’t know... I don’t think that she even knows. She talks about getting a decent job, or going to a better university.” Leon seemed almost dismissive about Erica’s plans, as if he has no faith in them. “.... but she’ll be back, I know it.”

He had a diabolical grin on his face.

“Well..... I... I can’t say I blame her. But what about here. The university here isn’t that bad, now. And neither is the college.......”

The phone sounded from the other room. Barbara made plans to walk over to the origin of the sounds, but Leon halted her.

“I’ll get that..... could be Erica.”

“Sure......”

Barbara thought about what Leon had said. She was rather surprised that Leon would suddenly broach this subject, instead of gradually easing it into conversation. It seemed as if he wasn’t telling her the whole story. There was a tone of contempt, beneath those words. Why?


3.

“Hello?”

Leon picked up the phone.

“Leon?” No hello. Apparently, such greetings were unnecessary.
The voice was from Rick, his boss at the pizza place. Leon could comprehend the entire conversation that would be spoken, even before Rick opened his mouth. Leon’s heart sank.

“Yes.... what’s going on?”

“I need you to deliver some pizza tonight... when can you get here?

He had no expectation of being called in on his day off, especially during the middle of a snowstorm. Leon found himself speechless for a moment.

“... ummm.... I’ll have to see if the roads are okay.....”, he rasped.

A tone of disappointed creeped along the surface of Rick’s voice.

“..... I understand, but I really want you to get up here.”, he spoke, as if he didn’t really understand. “I’m on St. Peter’s Road, near the pharmacy. You see, I had a little fender-bender a few minutes ago. And I really have to get this order up to William at the call center. He’s the type of guy who you consider high-priority, okay......”

Leon was struggling with his words. “... y--yes, I’ll be up there soon.”

“Quickly, quickly, please.”, he pleaded arrogantly, before hanging up.

Leon hung up his own phone in turn.

He felt at war with himself. He had plans and now they were spoiled. No matter what he was to do, Leon would do somebody wrong.

He turned back into the direction of the kitchen, and of his mother....

“Who was that, Leon?”

“It... it was Rick.”, he speaks fearfully. “He.. wants me to work tonight.....”

Leon’s voice was a mixture of doubt, disappointment, worry and anticipation. That last feature had shades all its own, as he anticipated what perils he’d face outdoors. As well as the perils of disclosing this truth to her mother at this time.

“Work? In this weather?”, she queried, surprised at the tenacity of Leon’’s boss.

“Yea, I’m afraid so... “, Leon exhaled, defeated. “... some really important guy wants his pizza.”

“You’re not going to go out in that weather?”, she stated, feebly achieving a personal commandment. Thou shalt not drive in snow covered roads, especially if thou art a mother’s son delivering pizzas.
“Wh.. what am I supposed to tell him? No? This is my job, mom. Do you want me to get fired? I’ve been hoping to get some decent hockey equipment for the school team this year. I need the cash.”

Barbara cringed at the sporting reference. She was one of those cliché hockey moms, who became swept up in the culture of hockey parents, sitting on the sidelines, shouting out desperate encouragement to their own children while hurtling simplistic insults to the innocent children of the opposing team. The game between the stands was more violent and challenging than the game upon the ice. But Barbara was only a third string player. The other parents were much worse........

“If he fires you, then it wasn’t a good place to begin with.” Barbara said, sacrificing her facile sympathy to Leon’s cause. “There’s all kinds of jobs out there that pay the same wages, give out the same hours. And they won’t put their employment in dangerous situations......”

“Oh, everybody would be the same way Mom.”, Leon whined, undoubtedly expressing an adolescent’s natural distrust of authority figures. Prejudicial school principals. Strict homeroom teachers. Reckless pizzeria owners.

“Oh, don’t be like that, dear.”, Barbara implored. “They’re not going to neglect their employees’ safety. That would be quite the turnover rate if they did.”

Leon smiled, breaking the struggle he and his mom were involved in. It was a struggle, like a tug of war. Like two wars, actually. The one between him and his mom, and the one between his head and his heart. The tug-of-war was a game where there were no winners, only unresolved issues. Either side had to deal with the guilt, the belief that the other side may have been right, and deserved to win.

His right hand abruptly bound the piles of hair, yanking them if an unforeseen resolution were to be excavated. But no such luck.

“So... “, sensing his conflict. “..... what are you going to do?” Her tone was less frantic now. Her words evaporated in a hum.

Leon could not break the sinister rope that bound him. He was just going to have to move in constricted fashion.

“Look......”, he sighed. “I gotta go...... it’s not that bad. It’s only inside the city..... it’s not like we can go out too far......”

Barbara’s eyes fretted, as she resigned herself to the fact that he was going to go out in that storm.

“Drive slowly..... you don’t have any winter tires.....”

“Yes, yes... I know.....”

Leon walked to the front porch, to place on his boots, and put on his jacket. He began to feel guilty, as if by walking out that door and into the disturbance, he was breaking some elusive principle. But sometimes life forced you to do things that you did not care to do.
--------------------------------------
PART TWO:
http://www.epinions.com/content_3851657348

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About Me: Alice, a story in nine parts, posted on Sept 24, 2008 - http://www.epinions.com/content_5241348228