The sun rays claw at my window; too sickly to transgress the glass. The light is scattered and lazy, strangled between the horizon and a steely dull wall of cloud. It stews with the kind of gray from a murderous knife, rusting in the toolshed, untamed with malintent. Slowly metamorphosing, the clouds just sail along the northern horizon.
The weatherman, with no commanding presence, dances frantically across the television screen, muted to a droning murmur. I watch him intently, scrutinizing the urgency in his tv voice. Maybe I just like watching the bright green blotches balloon into deep reds that swam shakily across the map. Maybe I like how the radar ticks around the screen, like it’s refreshing an internet page.
He soon walks off the edge of the map, an intrigued face plastered as he beckons the camera to follow. A heavy glass door appears awkwardly in the frame. It looks like the same door I used to make fingerprint pictures on when Mom took me to the department store. I see the back of his head, which doesn’t look that different from the front, but the image strikes me for some hidden reason. Over his shoulder the sky looks cloudless, but instead of blue, it’s a green reserved specially for polluted water, surfacing infections and tornado sirens.
Out my own window, the light fades to a suppressed sort of glowing orange, and it continues quickly into a deepening colorless black. Maybe the camera lens messes with the color. The light in my room swells and fades as a swirling blue screen with the words WEATHER ALERT spins idly around what looks more like a skeleton than a globe.
The weatherman’s map returns, but the weatherman doesn’t. Again the radar ticks, pulling the big red bubbles into different shapes than they were before. From the corner of the screen, a succession of little square counties grow out of the little state map, parading more bright colors.
My bedroom light begins to get sucked back out the window. Lightning steadily flashes shadows onto my wall. Something about the darkness always stirs the clouds; the heat begins slinking toward a secretive escape for want of antagonizing the stolid, cooler air. The quiet rumbling thunder, always slow to the march, begins to roll more violently over the house. A pencil leaps from my desk.
I think of the weatherman. He knows that in the darkness, the lightning is no longer contained in the sky, fighting against the sunlight and drizzly background. Instead, the air is dry between sadistic raindrops that drown plants in a cliché sort of irony.
I could almost hear the roof of the station erupt in the pelting roar of hail. The thought of a mass of ice free falling hundreds of feet makes me question my existence. In the back of my mind haunts the apparition of a funnel. Masked by the deafening waterfall down the windowpanes, it lurks between glimpses afforded by the lightning; a brilliant kind of ambush.
On the television, I see that the weatherman has lost his plastered intrigue, now that he’s back in front of the map. He points less at the map and more at the floor, and then stares deep into my eyes.
I watched the weatherman say goodbye to his wife.
“Lights out, bedtime!” wafted toward me from the stairwell.
He only fidgeted with his wristwatch as I waited, but his eyes never floated back up to me. I obediently clicked the big center button and listened to the sound get sucked back into the set. The distorted picture of four big white bubble letters hovering over a radio tower drained into the center of the screen.
The staticky gray glass left the ghost of a tv show I stayed up way to late too understand. I remember a man in a papery blue smock looking at his wrist. His mask wiggled and the tv spouted, “time of death—” before Mom caught me.
Years later, I find a watch half-buried in the dirt behind the library. I more or less expected to find something like that wash up on the banks of the creek or hanging in a tree. Bubbles slide across its drowned face and the hands float around under the glass. I never saw the weatherman in that time. But I never watch the weather either.