Carl paced from room to room, checking the views from each window. Thunderstorms were coming. First, murmurings from the west, then rumblings and a cool breeze promising a break in the oppressive humidity. It was the first cool breeze in a week. There was no air conditioning in JJ’s farmhouse. “That guy”, Carl thought as he paced and sweated. “Too good for an air conditioner.”
Carl was house sitting for JJ. Or, hiding from Anne, his wife. Or, taking a break from her. Or, giving Anne a break from him, and not for the first time.
The breeze picked up and Carl watched the sky. There were clouds up there he had never seen before, moving in odd ways. Heavy sporadic raindrops blown from the storm proper hit the windows and roof. This was going to be a whopper. A direct hit, he thought. He made the rounds and closed the windows. Then he went onto the porch.
Two things happened as soon as he got out there. The air raid siren went off from the center of town and a car appeared, headlights on, speeding up the road from town. “That looks like my car,” he thought. As it pulled into JJ’s driveway, he realized it was his car, with his estranged wife in the drivers seat.
“Tornado warning!” Anne yelled as she hopped out.
She ran from the car as the rain picked up and Carl looked again at the sky as the siren droned from town. A section of the sky had separated from the brooding clouds above and was rotating slowly over the town. The edges of this huge rotation were tinted yellow like jaundice, boding illness and breakdown. “We’re fucked,” Carl thought.
They watched together as the funnel formed from dust rising up into the turning cloud, not so much touching down as taking shape between ground and sky. The twister came toward the mountain. Carl could see individual pieces of debris being pulled up into the funnel; branches, shrubs, and flat flipping panels of wood or cardboard. And, was that a Little Tykes kiddie car? “Cellar,” he yelled.
The tornado never hit the farm, moving up and over the mountain about a quarter mile to the south. (The swath would be visible for years). Carl and Anne sat in the dirt-floor basement, side-by-side on a couple of lawn chairs, holding hands and listening.
“You were worried about me,” Carl said.
“You asshole,” Anne said. “I was scared.”
“Scared enough to come find me?”
“Sad when you put it that way.”
They were quiet, straining to hear upstairs. There was some wind, but the house was not ripped away. There would be no Wizard of Oz hallucination or destructive aftermath.
“So, can I come back home?”
“Why don’t we live here for awhile?”
“Why not. A change of scenery. Aren’t they gone for awhile?”
“You know him. Could be another week. Or, a year.”
A pause as they listened. Silence.
“You know, if this was a novel, we’d fuck right now,” she said. “Narrow escape. Hearts pumping.”
“This is no novel, that’s for sure. But let’s fuck anyway.”
So they went upstairs to JJ’s bedroom with the storm moving off , the sky having turned from yellow to green, and sirens coming from the town below. They opened the windows. The humidity was gone and it was just nice to be naked in bed with someone you loved and hated, as a cool breeze came through the room.