This just a bit of light hearted fun with what I hope is a touch of quirkiness. Would appreciate any feed back.
IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS
Did you ever wake up one morning and just want to pull the duvet cover over your head and stay where you are for the rest of the day? Well, this story about a day in my life ,starts a bit like that. I woke up. I could hear the rain pelting against the window and the wind howling and I groaned to myself. I’m Monica Walsh, weather announcer at channel 2 and not only did the thought of battling the elements to make my way to work bother me, the previous night I had predicted dry weather. I had told everyone to leave their umbrellas at home. I had smiled happily as I predicted a bright sunny day, maybe slightly chilly for May. I could almost hear the complaints already. I was bound to be accosted by at least one disgruntled cyclist – they were always the worst.
“I’d have brought my rain gear if I’d known,” I could see one of them now, usually male , mid thirties pulling up alongside me to voice his dissatisfaction, glaring at me with the rain dripping down his face.
Ah well, I was due in studio for 11am so no duvet day for me. To cheer myself up, I decided to put on something glamorous – a skin tight lycra red dress, which, although it covers the knee and doesn’t show much cleavage, as per the weather announcer’s dress code, does push the boundaries a little. With my blonde hair falling loosely on my shoulders and a slightly higher pair of heels than normal, I felt the whole look was quite attractive. Not bad for a 35 year old woman. In fact, the word sexy would spring to mind. It was just as well my boss was gone away on holidays. He had had words with me in the past about wearing racy outfits.
“You are here to inform people about the weather, not to titillate them. Plain outfits that blend in ,are what we recommend.”
That had been the day I’d worn black leather trousers, black high heels and a biker style jacket to finish the whole look off. I didn’t see the problem. Shortly afterwards, I started getting fan mail from a couple of male viewers. The way I saw it was that any boost to the ratings was a good thing. Well, while the cats away……………I thought . With the bad weather we’re getting at the moment, all my fans probably need cheering up! I grabbed my designer red pvc raincoat and matching umbrella, and headed out the door to my Saab convertible, glad I had parked in the garden because the rain was coming down like stair rods.
I usually enjoy the drive to work. I live 10 miles out of the city centre in a little village on the coast. Most of the drive is along the seafront and there is something relaxing about viewing the horseshoe shaped Dublin bay stretched out before me as I drive along. But this morning the heavy rain and the thick mist covering the sea completely obscured my view. I started to think about the day ahead as I cautiously negotiated the wet road, the only sound the frantic movement of the windscreen wipers working at top speed. I could hopefully leave early today as I only had to do my weather stint, there was no office work to be done. I might pay my mother a visit……..My train of thought was suddenly interrupted as I was passing what is known as the local viewing point, a little area off the road where people pull in to admire the view. Unfortunately in recent years , it has become known for a different reason, a much darker one. It has become a place where people commit suicide. There is a wall about 5 ft high with one of those telescopes ,that you put money into, perched on top. On the other side of the wall there is a much longer drop straight into deep choppy sea. Quite a few souls have jumped from this wall into the cold sea and perished within minutes of doing so. I suppose it’s these recessionary times we’re living in. A lot of people are struggling just to keep their heads above water. And this morning, it looked like there could be another addition to this tragic list. There was no doubt in my mind there had been a figure standing on the wall, even though visibility was poor because of the mist and rain. And that person certainly wasn’t admiring the view on day like today. There was only one thing I could do. Turn back and try to stop them.
I pulled in beside the other car, though there wasn’t an awful lot of room and even though I was focused on my new role of super hero, part of me was worrying that I was jutting out on the road a little bit too much. I got out of the car and put up my red umbrella – no point in getting wet - and hurried ,as much as I could in my high heels ,over to the wall. It was a woman, wearing a long see through raincoat with the hood up and standing with her back to me, staring into the sea.
“Things are never as bad as they seem, you know,” I remembered watching this program on telly about how to try and save people who were going to jump off high buildings. Remind them of what they have, of what it might do to their family. The woman didn’t answer. Nor did she turn around and acknowledge me.
“Think of your family,” I tried again, this time shouting a little louder.
She turned around and I realised she was holding something in her arms.
“Is there any chance you could back off and give me a bit of space,” her tone was curt and unfriendly.
“I’m not backing off until you come down from that wall,” sometimes you just gotta be tough to get results.
“Excuse me. Who do you think you are? I’ve just said I want some space. I have something to do and I don’t want anyone around.”
“Look, I only want to help you. There has to be a better way than this. Think how cold that water is going to feel.”
The other woman’s voice softened a bit. “Gerry’s not going to feel the cold where he is,” she replied. “He’s looking down from there now, knowing I’m doing the right thing by him.” she gently stroked what I now realised was a small urn in her arms.
“Oh God. “ I suddenly copped on. “ I’ve made a stupid mistake. I thought you were going to…….well you know….”
“Jump?” she finished helpfully for me. “Good God, no. I’m here to send Gerry to his final resting place, the Irish Sea. See – his ashes are interred in this special container. She thrust it towards me so I could have a closer look. At that very moment a sudden violent blast of wind knocked it out of her hand and it fell to the ground with a thud.
“It’s okay. I’ve got it. I’ve got it,” I knelt down and quickly picked it up. I must have got it by the wrong end though because the lid opened and a cloud of dust emerged, spilling on to my hands and then a further gust of wind blowing the remainder of it into my face and on to my red raincoat.
A second or two passed where we both looked at each other, the rain washing away the bit that had landed on my hand and then she suddenly came to her senses and started to wail.
“Well that’s bloody marvellous. Thanks to you, Gerry will stay for all eternity on the side of the road. And I wouldn’t mind, he hated parking here. He was always complaining there wasn’t enough space.”
Ten minutes later, I was back in my car. It had taken all my diplomatic powers to extricate myself from the delicate situation I had found myself in.
“It’s a very windy spot here,” I had said as a parting shot. “Any bits of dust on the ground and that includes Gerry, will eventually end up in the sea anyway.”
“And what about the bits of him you wiped off your face with that tissue?”
“Here,” I took the sodden tissue out of my pocket and handed it to her. “Look I have to go now. It was an honour to witness the scattering of Gerry’s ashes.”
I ran to my car, before she could say anything else, hoping she didn’t look too closely at the tissue. I had blown my nose on it earlier that morning.
Late again for work.
“Come on, Monica. You’re on in 10 minutes. What happened to your face? There’s all black streaks on it.”
“Don’t ask.” I grimaced. “Well at least grumpy Graham is still on his holid…..” My secretary’s face was telling me to stop.
“And it’s just as well I came back early,” a loud familiar voice boomed behind me. “ Staff arriving in half an hour late and what’s that you’re wearing? If you want to join the late night chat line team, you should really let me know.”
I spun around to the sight of my boss, grey haired man in late middle age. The expression on his face no less bad tempered than before he went on holidays.
“Well, you look really rested. You must have had a great time.”
“I want to talk to you in my office after you’ve recorded the weather.”
“The outlook for the next few days is pretty grim, I’m afraid. There is artic air coming in from Iceland and that together with the bout of low pressure we’ve been having means some cold and wet weather on the way.” I pointed to the chart. “You can see there is a thick cloud cover over Ireland…..” As I droned on in auto pilot, I decided I wasn’t going to take any nonsense from Graham. My only crime was to try and look good and to come in late for the first time in about 6 months….
“….And if we look ahead to next week , it doesn’t look like there will be much improvement with more low pressure on the way bringing with it the attendant rain and wind.”
“So, I feel that you should relax the rules regarding dress for the weather announcers. You want to bring in the viewers don’t you? If you look at TV3, all of the girls doing the weather are glammed up…” I’d been talking on like this for a minute or 2 and my boss was sitting looking at me, his arms folded with what I now realised was a contemptuous expression on his face.
“So you think TV3 are doing things the right way, do you? “ He suddenly started talking. “Channel 2 should maybe take a leaf out of their book? Is that it? Well, let me tell you, we are more committed to a quality viewing experience at this channel. We have always targeted a more discerning sophisticated audience. If you think you prefer TV3’s style, maybe you should check and see if they have any vacancies.”
“Hold on, “ I interrupted hastily. “I never said I wanted to go and work in TV3. I like working here.”
“Well, then. No more suggestive clothing. Get what I’m saying?”
I left his office feeling like someone had chewed me up and spat me out. There was no doubt about it, this just wasn’t my day. And even though I didn’t know it then, it was about to get a whole lot worse.
I left work at about 3 O’Clock. I walked briskly down the street to the car park, my red umbrella shielding me from the driving rain. I was walking towards my car in the underground level , when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Excuse me, are you Monica Walsh, the weather announcer?” I spun around to face a smartly dressed man of about 30, his quite handsome face creased in a friendly smile.
“The one and only,” I laughed self consciously.
“Oh good. I’m a fan of yours. Is there any way I could trouble you for your autograph?”
“Sure. Do you have a pen and paper handy…………….?”
He put his hand into the inside pocket of his designer raincoat but instead of taking out a pen, he produced a knife, a bread knife with a very sharp looking serrated edge. He grabbed my arm and placed the knife perilously close to my neck, the glinting metal just milimetres from my skin.
“Here’s my bag. Take what you want. There’s about 100 euro in cash in it.” My voice came out all high pitched and squeaky .
“I don’t want your money, Monica. I want you to come with me over to my cor. You are coming back to my place. Come on.” He spoke with a posh Dublin accent, as though he came from Foxrock or somewhere. He guided me along, the knife still at my neck. I looked around desperately to see if there was anyone who could come to my aid but the car park was completely deserted. They do have security cameras but there would be no one watching them this hour of the day. We reached a red sports car, which I realised was his when he pointed a zapper at it.
“Get in,” he barked. “And don’t try to escape. There’s absolutely no point. I’d only catch you again, alroight?”
I got in. I really didn’t have much choice.
“Is there any chance you could tell me what this is all about?” He was driving at speed, passing through some large puddles of water, splashing some unsuspecting pedestrians in the process.
“Oh I think you know. At least you should know. If I hadn’t done this, I’m sure some other concerned citizen would. I mean look. Just look at the weather out there. It’s actually getting worse.”
“What do you mean? Are you trying to blame me for the bad weather? But that’s insane,” I wailed.
My captor turned to look at me, the sort of look you might give a convicted criminal as he was led to the waiting prison van and I was left in no doubt whatsoever. He did think it was my fault. Ok, I thought to myself. The first thing to do is to calm down. Think about the situation logically. You are being brought at knife point to a certified lunatic’s house. What can you do about it? At the moment, nothing but go along with him and be ready for an opportunity to escape.
We parked in another underground car park and we accessed his apartment in a lift.
“Ha ha,” he gloated. “I bet you thought you’d be able to escape. You thought we’d be coming in to my pad from the street and you’d be able to shout for help. Well, get over it sweetie. Think of yourself as a butterfly well and truly caught in a net.”
“No, no. It’s fine. I’ve been thinking about what you said,” I started slowly. My strategy was to plamas this fruitcake as much as possible.
“The weather has been really bad lately, it’s enough to get anyone’s back up. You are right to express your anger. I want to apologise officially on behalf of the weather team at channel 2.”
We had arrived at his front door, now, the knife still pointed at my neck. He fished the key out of his pocket with his spare hand and opened the door.
“The dirt before the broom,” he cackled as he pushed me in.
His apartment was practically bare of furniture , apart from a leather sofa and a small table.
“Ok, this is your room,” he said and I was shoved through a door in to a tiny bathroom.
“Ah come on. This is ridiculous. You can’t make me stay in here,” I protested.
“I think you’ll find, I can. And I’ll take that, in case you think you can ring someone on your mobile phone.” He snatched my handbag. He then left me there, shutting the door behind him and turning the key in the lock. I took a deep breath and looked around me. There was a small shower in the room and a toilet and nothing else. A little window at the top of the wall was left open and I could hear the rain streaming down outside. I immediately took off my shoes and climbed on to the cistern. If I stood on my tippy toes, I was just about able to reach the window. I then proceeded to shout at the top of my lungs.
“Help, help, I’m being held against my will, Help…..help.” I kept this up for a half an hour or so but I was starting to get the distinct impression that I was wasting my time and no one could hear me. The bathroom was facing on to the back of the building so I could only hope someone in one of the apartments on either side might come to my rescue.
The door opened and my captor arrived in.
“Alroight, here’s the deal,” he started. “I’ll release you from here, when and only when you give us a sunny day with temperatures reaching at least 25 degrees.”
“Ah, come on,” I wailed. “Have you not seen the weather forecast? There’s going to be bad weather for a week at least”
“Yes,” he replied. “Shame on you. You have not used your powers for the good of everybody. That’s why I have decided to intervene. I’m doing this for everyone in the country, not just myself, you know. Do you not realise how people’s moods have been affected by the bad weather?”
“What do you mean, my powers?” There was nothing I could do except keep him talking and try and find out what was making him tick.
“Don’t come the innocent with me. I know your secret so there’s no point in pretending.”
“But sure how could you know any secrets about me? You don’t even know me.” I laughed hollowly.
“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong. I’ve watched every weather bulletin you’ve done over the past few years. I haven’ t missed one and If I’m out, I tape it. I used to think you were amazing. I had a bit of a thing for you, imagine that?” He smiled at the absurdity of it. I smiled back as though I couldn’t believe it either.
“That time you wore the leather trousers and jacket to match, I was bowled over by how sexy you looked. Seriously. But then I started to twig.”
“Twig?” I was still smiling politely.
“You know……” He had stopped smiling now. “Look,” he said “I know that you can control the weather. When you first appear, you always have that look on your face. It is a look of certainty, there is a smugness about it. Like you have decided which way the weather will be and there is nothing anyone can do about it. That was what started my suspicions. But then last year you were replaced by someone for a week. That was the time Ireland had a heatwave, the only one for the whole summer. You came back in just when the weather got bad again looking nicely bronzed. You told us about your holiday in Kerry with that smug expression on your face. I knew then. I knew what your game was.”
“Well obviously working where I do, I’m going to keep an eye on the forecast and go on holidays when it’s going to be good. It’s a perk of the job.” I shrugged.
My captor looked at me with his arms folded and a rye smile on his face. Then he clapped his hands slowly.
“You’re good,” he said. “You’re very good. But YOU DON’T FOOL ME.” He was shouting now and there was a strange glint in his eye.
“The weather forecast is never that accurate. No way. That week in Kerry confirmed what I already suspected.”
“Look,” I was starting to lose my patience. “If I can control the weather, how come I’ve made it so bad for the past week? How come I don’t make it sunny the whole time?”
“Because,” he snarled. “ you want to make people suffer and what better way is there to do that than to have a long spell of rain? You have changed these past few months. Your powers have been tainted by evil. The Devil has been using you to do his work. That’s why I’ve actually captured you, roight? To try and get you to turn away from the Devil before it’s too late.”
“Alright, I see. What if I promised to give a nice sunny day tomorrow reaching 25 degrees by midday, would you let me go then?”
“What do you take me for?” he snarled. “A fool? You have to stay here until the sun comes out and the temperature goes up. And then I’ll let you out, alroight?” He walked out the door and slammed it shut.
Christ! It could only happen to me. Again, I considered my options. If I could somehow overpower him the next time he came in to the bathroom. He was a lot bigger than me though and there was nothing to hand that I could use as a weapon. Maybe if I stood behind the door and then took him by surprise like I’d seen in a film once………the sound of a buzzer interrupted my thoughts, making me jump slightly. What the hell was that? Hold on, could it be one of those intercom systems people have in apartments, that lets you know someone is calling to see you? I put my ear to the door and I was sure I heard faint murmurings. The murmurings got louder and I was sure I heard him saying:
“No don’t come up, Alroight? I don’t want to see you today. I said no. Ok?”
I started yelling and banging as loud as I could.
“Ms. Walsh, I want to apologise again for what you were put through. Geoffrey’s mental health problems have got a lot worse lately. He was prescribed pills for his psychotic state but he stopped taking them a week or two ago. Anyway, he’s going to be admitted tonight, so you won’t have to worry about him harassing you again.” Geoffrey’s mother, a surprisingly chirpy woman handed me a cup of tea as I waited for my taxi.
“That’s ok. I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for him, though. I suppose in his head he thought he was doing the right thing. Mind you, I’m not sure what would have happened if you hadn’t turned up. The way the weather’s been lately, I might have been in that bathroom for a while.”
I stepped out on the road to make my way home. The rain had finally stopped and there was a hint of sun peeking out from behind a cloud. Maybe this is a sign that my luck is about to change, I thought. Or maybe the weather forecast is wrong again. It did after all say there was going to be heavy rain all night.