The Clouds have Ripped Themselves Open on the Mountains

It starts raining when she’s still a mile or two away from home, a cold, greasy rain like heartburn. She’s not dressed for it, and the shakes start while she jigs on a corner waiting for the light to change. A car pulls up next to her and a man with green hair and gimlets for eyes leans out and calls. She drags her suitcase over and bathes in the heat beating out of the window. The rain hisses off the hood of the car, little curls of steam.

“What’s your name, honey?”

Her teeth are chattering. “Rachael.”

“You want a ride?” She jerks her head and the rear door swings open. “Come on, then.”

There’s a huge man in the back, huge like a cliff-face, mouth and nose craggy under mirrored shades. “What bar door did you wander away from?” Rachael says. The shades swivel toward her, show her drowned and frail.

“Where you heading, sweetheart?” She cocks an eye at the shades and gives an address several blocks away from her apartment. “Hey, that’s right on our way. Good luck for you.” She says something noncommittal. The shades grab her arm and squeeze it until she yelps. “How far you going?” His mouth hardly moves when he talks. “Don’t feed me bullshit.”

She breaks his fingers until he lets go. His mouth never moves.