Friday Night Write – Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
This was originally written for the Friday Night Write flash fiction challenge over at SweetBananaInk.com. I cleaned it up a little and freed myself from the 500 word limit…
Two blind men sat together at the base of the big monument in Columbus Circle.
They met there at sundown, every evening, so they could listen to the traffic.
The way it worked was one of them ventured an opinion on the make and model of a passing vehicle and then they’d laugh and give each other shit until it was time for the next guess.
After an hour or so they’d retire to a nearby Chock Full o’Nuts to compare their day’s hauls.
The two men first met out on the street. Both of them were outdoors and both of them were trying to work the same three or four Broadway blocks. There was a fight for territory that first day but after the cops broke it up the two men came to an understanding and divied up the area up so each of them had two blocks to panhandle.
Billy, the older of the two, finished counting his stack before Dominique did. The younger man liked to run his fingertips over the coins to determine their age and usage by the feel of the engravings.
While Dominique moved on to his last little pile of coins Billy drained their coffee mug– one of the two always bought a coffee and they shared it, taking full advantage of the Chock Full o’Nuts ‘bottomless mug’ policy.
Billy rapped on the counter to request a refill.
“Why don’t you just buy a second cup?” asked the counter woman. She was a big woman with a smoker’s voice. “You got enough on that table to cover a dozen cups. More probably.” She refilled the mug and went to brew a fresh pot.
He held the mug out in front of him and took an appreciative sniff. “Love that perfume you got on, Linda,” he said.
Linda waved a hand in derision and even though Billy couldn’t see the gesture he laughed and drank some coffee.
“How much you got there, son?” he asked Dominique.
“Thirty-one dollars and seventeen cents. You?”
“Shit. We gotta switch blocks one of these days.”
“Wouldn’t help. You just don’t have my flair for the job.”
“What I don’t have, old man, is… aw, fuck it. Doesn’t matter anyway.”
A tremendous clap of thunder overtook the street noise. The wind gusted and then the rain started.
Billy and Dominique sat still and listened to the rain, listened to the rhythm of it as it hit the sidewalk and bounced off of the coffee shop’s awning.
The sound of Linda’s scurrying feet running to close the door broke the spell.
“Guess I’m sleeping wet tonight,” said Dominique.
“You could come to the shelter with me,” replied Billy.
Billy was well aware of his friend’s truculence on the subject and didn’t push.
“Have you ever seen the rain, man?” asked Dominique.
“Yeah, I have. Many times. It’s a sight to see, son, all of those clouds filling up and letting go from on high.”
“I can’t even imagine. I can get my head ’round most things, you know, get a sense of what they’re about, but not that.”
“It’s like washing up time,” said Billy, “only everybody gets the chance to get clean if they want to.”
Dominique nodded. “Not many seem to want to.”
Billy sipped some more coffee and thought about it.
“I wonder why that is.” he said.