Clouds had mustered sufficient forces to challenge the midday sun. Front-runners dappled the plain with swift-moving shadows, while, on the western perimeter, cumuli convened. Beneath them, at aggressive angles, blue-gray streaks appeared. The desert was customarily dry between winter and summer storms. This rather unseasonable dowsing promised to prolong the landscape’s immigrant green.

Brandy and Simon cruised into downtown Tucson just ahead of the cloudburst. At a gas station, they refueled and asked directions to a clean, cheap motel. As they got back into the car, gigantic droplets started to fall, speckling the dust, stirring up fertile aromas as of freshly-turned earth, splashing an erratic percussion atop the vehicle’s roof and hood.

Pavement darkened a shade.

Light dimmed.

Then it came; a deluge. Raindrops seemed to bounce on whatever surface they hit. The windshield wipers proved incapable of staving off temporary blindness; Brandy pulled over.

With water streaming over its windows in vision-distorting sheets, the car sequestered its occupants like insects in amber. Wide-eyed, almost frightened, Brandy groped beside her for Simon’s hand. Together they listened to the thunderous pummeling all around them… spellbound as children… safe and sound inside… their breath commingling to coat all the windows with a heavy film of steam… their palms (molded tightly) sharing perspiration (impressions wet, soft, warm, and quaintly intimate in their clammy solubility).

Suddenly Simon felt that he could not breathe. He reached for the door handle, jerked it open, and bolted; rain invaded the car with flashflood force.

Brandy faltered a moment, then jumped out in pursuit.

"Simon! Simon, wait!"

By the time she overtook him he was standing ankle-deep in a curbside puddle… stock-still… apparently unsure how he had gotten to where he was.

Brandy approached with caution.

"Simon?"

He showed no outward sign of having heard her. Rain drenched his shirt, bled up his pant legs, saturated his hair and scraggly beard. His attention seemed to be fixed on something beyond what was immediately perceptible, or such was Brandy’s notion as she ventured near.

"Simon, what’s wrong?"

His thoughts, in rapid-fire impressions, blinked/blurred/combined: wind with rain with wiper blades hypnotic in their metronomic cadence, musty smells with atmosphere congested making him feel trapped, the downpour's drumming like the sound of wing-flaps, caged, frantic to escape their claustrophobic confines.

Brandy placed her hand on Simon’s sodden shoulder.

He turned… stared at her fingers… at her face… until recognition dawned... if disconcertedly.

"What is it? Can I help?"

He took a deep breath… let it out… then shivered. Not knowing what else to do, he cast a fleeting look at his sopping-wet feet.

Brandy slipped her arm around his waist and guided him, unresisting, back toward the car. Halfway there Simon stopped. He tried to sign his feeling of being unable to breathe, of the space closing in around him.

"Yes, I understand."

They resumed walking.

Brandy, before climbing into the Volks, tried to wipe the pools from either seat—not that it mattered; she and Simon both were soaked to the skin. Glancing back and forth, she had to laugh.

"Drowned like rats. And we still have to squish-squash our way through some motel lobby; ask for a room. They’ll throw us right out."

She laughed again, her jouncing breasts provocative through their water-logged sheath—contours so pronounced they might have been stark-naked.

"What; don’t they match?"

Caught in the act of ogling, Simon blushed deeply; an apologetic crimson overtook his cheeks... which Brandy let him suffer unrelievedly... then took pity... excusing him with a sympathetic smile.

Back inside the auto, their seat belts refastened, the soggy couple went in search of shelter.

*

*

Her bosom draped...

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