Rain. They’re making a huge deal of it on the news, with weather updates every half hour. Using words like, “torrential,” “monsoon,” and “fire hose.” So far I’ve noticed some wind, some wetness, and of course the relentlessly overcast skies.
But suddenly the sky breaks open and buckets of water come crashing down upon the asphalt parking lot. We’re trapped inside Loard’s Ice Cream at El Cerrito plaza, but we’ve stopped to visit my friend behind the counter, not eat ice cream. I have almost no money and you’re fourteen. People usually buy shit for you.
“Damn,” you say, looking out the glass double doors at the downpour. “Maybe Mom can pick us up.”
“Yeah,” I say. “And drive us across the parking lot to her car.”
You smile and pick up my phone, sliding the full keyboard in and out. Take a few pictures of me, only half paying attention. I’m staring at the floor and deciding if where we should go for lunch, or if I want ice cream after all. We exchange words about Christmas presents, about going to the bank, and about what we want to eat, finally agreeing to go home and eat what little food might be hiding in the fridge.
There’s a break in the gray cloud cover, so I say a quick goodbye to my friend, the counter cutting into our stomachs as we lean over to give each other a hug. We agree to go shopping later this week to find her a dress for New Year’s. You wait patiently by the door, say goodbye to her in your shy teenage-boy way. Then we’re cutting across the parking lot to the car, trying not to get hit by last-minute shoppers taking advantage of the respite to get the hell out of here. I wave a dollar out the window to the man with the cardboard sign at the stoplight and then we’re on San Pablo, cruising next to cop car and fighting over the radio. I turn up the crappiest pop song of the decade and we imitate Mom dancing, laughing harder than we ever laugh with anybody else.