Ain’t No Sunshine

“Hey groovy babies, Avery Clinton-Jones here, frequenting the waves at WAWA. Be aware that Denton and surrounding counties are under a tornado watch until three AM. Stock those basements and cast a good weather spell!

“NOW groovy babies, it’s Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine . . .”

In a sparse rectangular room of bean bag chairs and a cable-spool table, Nate listened to the radio and began a mural. On the wall he adjacently painted squares. Below he drew small circles, labeling them so: On. Off. Vertical. Horizontal. In the squares, he drew faces, torsos, desks and maps. Adding detail to the male face, he made it square-jawed, wide-boned, from which a deep voice might emanate. Creating the female face, he detailed an oval with big eyes, and a tiny nose and mouth, which might emit perk. It’s the KXRT News Team! Watergate and News Lite.

He sat on the front porch of his house. The road was cracked and muddy. The clouds were dark and rolling. How does a tornado drive a blade of grass into the hardness of a tree? It was no wonder that Native Americans and other cultures considered tornadoes to be godly – or evil manifestations – as their wildness tore through air and matter. He dreaded tornado watches and hated closing his eyes and sleeping during them.

He slept nude under a cotton sheet, tin roof, rough sky. Ain’t No Sunshine . . . Sarah faded in and out of his consciousness, moving between taxis and planes and storms. He found himself in an old New Orleans studio, French doors separating two rooms. On a green sofa were stacks of his writings and drawings. Into a window snaked a small wind funnel, taking his art up and across the room; a small calendar blew open and lost pages to the air thief. He watched images and numbers swirl up and out into a dark sky, white gatherings disappearing into nowhere. He turned and looked at a mural. Sarah’s dark eyes appeared in the art, becoming deeper and larger. He backed away, hearing a strange sound … being awoken by his own protestations.

Nate walked an odd path of debris. Initially indecipherable jumble morphed into red mud-covered reality: shingles, siding, furniture remains, garbage, children’s toys; a large naked plastic doll with one eye open lay glaring at the sky. An intact bird’s nest contained one undisturbed egg. Trees seemed decorated as if for some perverse holiday, boasting ornaments of food wrappers, torn clothing, dreck. He looked to the sky. You scare me, sky. You create havoc.

“Mornin’ groovy babies, y’all with me? Last night big blow came through and blew a brew!

“Be aware that this evening Denton and Douglas counties will be under tornado watches until one in the mornin’.

“CALL me. Ya nevah call. Ya nevah write.”

 ©  Short Attention Span Lit  2018 –  by A. F. Waddell

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