Sudden Downpour

Sudden Downpour.

“Hello. I was just wondering if you had any umbrellas.” The old man looked at me quizzically, as if I was speaking in an ancient tongue that hadn’t been uttered for a thousand years.
“Any what?”
“Umbrellas. Its’ pouring down outside,” I said, raising my voice a notch or two.
“Oh. Umbrellas. Ah yes.” He shuffled behind the counter and pulled out a box of tiny paper umbrellas attached to a toothpick. You know, the kind you put in your Pina Colada.
“Here we are. Umbrellas.” I shook off a few more droplets as he handed me the box with the tiny little drink umbrellas. I looked at him with a mixture of frustration and sadness.
“Gotcha! Don’t worry, I’m not losing my mind, I know what you mean, I was just teasing. Over there on the right there’s a whole bunch of umbrellas. Golfing umbrellas, ladies’ umbrellas and some for the kids too.” I looked over toward the umbrella stand. It was nestled between the oversized vase of peacock feathers and the rail of feather boas. As I gingerly weaved my way between the collection of china dolls and creepy porcelain dogs I felt ashamed that I had doubted the intellectual capacity of this lovely old man but I was also amused by his ability to make me feel stupid.
I chose a leopard print umbrella with a clawed handle. It was the most subtle of the umbrellas on offer. I looked back at the counter. The old man was lighting up what seemed to be a joint. It couldn’t be. It was. The familiar smell wafted into my nostrils and transported me back to another lifetime. I place the umbrella on the counter.
“Just this thankyou.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’m sure. How much is it?”
“Forty-five dollars for you madam,” he coughed.
“Forty- five dollars? For an umbrella?”
“Yes. Forty five dollars. But I don’t think you will be needing it.”
“I need it. “ I pointed to the window. “It’s raining outside.” I was getting frustrated again, and hating myself for it, but I tried to keep calm.
“Madam. Believe me, you will not be needing it.” He started laughing. I looked at the ominous black clouds tumbling towards me. The chubby rain pelted against the window panes and my wet hair continued to drip on a dusty Persian rug. I slapped down a wet fifty dollar note on the counter and didn’t wait for my change. I thanked the crazy old man and said my goodbyes as I ventured out into the storm. I shot out the umbrella and held it with two hands against the battering wind. Head down, I trudged onwards.
I crossed the street, keeping my head down. I felt a warmth growing across my shoulders. The kind you get when you stand in the shower and sway from side to side under the hot water. My umbrella casted a shadow on the dry asphalt before me. I stopped. I dipped my umbrella toward the ground. The rain had stopped. The sky had cleared. And that old man was laughing at me.


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