Washed Up

It hadn’t rained in months. So of course, the night that Sara found herself standing in a piss-stained alleyway, the universe dropped a river on the city. Her luck seemed to run that way of late.

Water rushed down the street. It fountained out of a storm drain, filling the gutters with debris and silt. The weatherman had said clear skies. He clearly meant a different Brisbane.

The roar of the falling water was as loud as any waterfall she could remember. Of course, she hadn’t stood inside one before. Her clothes were drenched. Her hair clung to her face. She was sure her shoes squelched with water every time she shifted. But she couldn’t hear them if they did.

She could have been dry. Could have been warm. Could have been inside, or under an umbrella, or wearing different clothes.

But something told her now wasn’t the right time. Not just yet.

Across the street, Des Alves was still doing decent business. Most of them had been in there since before the rains began though. They probably didn’t want to leave. She could understand that. She just wished two of them would hurry up. She checked her watch. Or her bare wrist. Must have left it on the bench at home. Ah well. She’d fix that too.

The restaurant doors swung open, and two men emerged from the dry warmth of the foyer. She watched them hunch their shoulders, pull their jacket collars up to their necks. They hurried across the street, carefully leaping over the flooding gutter. They paused for a moment under the small awning above the doorway on the corner. Barely six feet from her.

Neither saw her. She waved, a dark smile sliding across her face. She wasn’t so out of practice that a couple of thugs could notice her then. That was something. They hurried away, down the street and into the crowd.

She rubbed her hands together, flicked her wrist, and caught the umbrella as it opened. Then she stepped out into the crowd. Her clothes rippled as they dried, the gumboots keeping her sneakers out of the gushing water. She glanced again at her wrist. The new watch said 11:30pm. She smiled. Right on time.

She had a job to do, after all.

By Tom Wells. © 2013