The clock read 3:35 or 3:36. We’re talking a.m. here. My eyes were too bleary to decipher that last digit. It was August 9 or 10. Flashes of lightning illuminated my room reminding me of a psychedelic era strobe light. In the distance thunder growled like a hunger pang. A storm was coming. The 1970 Chicago hit “25 or 6 to 4” echoed in my head.
I looked at the clock again. My eyes were clearer. 3:35. Dammit. Why couldn’t it have been 3:36? I could have used that extra minute of sleep. I stared at the ceiling with eyes closed. I still saw the flashes of white brightness. The thunder pangs crept closer.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Rain had joined its partners. It now was a meteorological version of the Three Magi bearing gifts. Electricity. Drums. Water. Drip drip. Drip drip. Drip drip. Drip drip drip. Drip drip drip. Drip drip drip. Drip drip drip. DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP. DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP.
3:42. The thunder crept closer then passed over the mountains behind me. The rain continued roaring. BOOM! Now the thunder was overhead. BOOM! BOOM! I thought of my high school classmate, the consistent football punter and PAT kicker, whose nickname was Boom Boom. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! OK. Enough already. Move on.
I looked toward the window and noticed something unusual. The curtain was not billowing. There was no wind. Odd. Usually strong gusts of wind accompany these storms. BOOM! Boom. Boom Boom! Boom boom…boom. Good. The storm was moving on.
3:48. Well, I’m awake. Not gonna fall back asleep, I thought. Not now anyway. Boom! Boom boom boom. DRIP DRIP DRIP Drip Drip Drip Drip Drip drip drip drip drip drip. 3:53. Drip drip drip. Silence. Drip. Drip. Silence…drip…silence. The storm had passed. Now it was San Juan Cosala’s turn. Or San Antonio Tlayacapan’s. Or maybe one of the tiny nameless towns with its 14 lights across the lake.
The lightning flashes weakened and became flickering. Like paparazzi camera flashbulbs. Who should I pretend to be? Which handsome Hollywood hunk navigating through a gauntlet of photographers? Channing Tatum? Brad Pitt? Idris Elbe? John Legend? A Hemsworth? Beiber? Danny DeVito? The flashes ceased. I stopped smiling and waving. I looked around my room for the limo.
4:02. I turned on a light, got up, and peeked out the window. No neighbors had lights on. Was I the only one awakened by the storm? Was I the only one to experience it? Had there actually been a storm? Reflections off wet cement seemed to confirm something had happened. But, even with that evidence, I wondered if, perhaps, what I had witnessed was not a storm at all, but something much worse. I shuffled to the living room, sat cross-legged on the floor, and turned on CNN to see if either the US or North Korea had nuclear bombed the other yet. They hadn’t. OK. Not a bomb. Just a storm. It grumbled in the distance. I returned to bed, a song looping through my mind.
Waiting for the breaking day
Searching for something to say
Flashing lights against the sky
Giving up I close my eyes
Sitting cross-legged on the floor
25 or 6 to 4