Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Heller high water

An emulation of author Peter Heller, based on my reading The River last week and getting caught out

A group of three volunteer coaches gathered around a patio table. The wind sometimes pushed drapes from the shade awning into us. I sat with my back to the mountains in the west. From where the weather often came.

One coach said, "You ride your bike here?"

"I did."

He said, "Looks like a storm."

I twisted in my chair to look where he was. Hulls of dark clouds cruised low off the foothills. I thought of the weather forecast I had read that morning. Zero percent chance of rain. "It's okay," I said.

Talk at the table resumed for another 20 minutes. We then ambled to the door and the driveway. Thunder grumbled.

"You want to stay a few minutes? 'Til this passes?" the host said.

"Or I can give you a ride in my car as far as I go," the third coach said.

I said, "Thanks, it's alright. The storm is north, so I'll take a road to the south. Go around." I put on my rain jacket.

The thunder re-tuned itself when I was half way home. Sharp cracks. A few drops fell, but they weren't bothersome. "Still on the edge of it," I said to myself.

The rain spotted my glasses and made it harder to see. Lightning strobed and percussive thunder chased it. My bike tires sizzled in the water coursing along the shoulder into storm drains.

I pedaled into a parking lot on the right. A building with eaves, probably a church. Sanctuary. I rolled up underneath and bumped my bike across the small tan rocks against the building. I leaned the bike. I pressed my back to the still-warm bricks. I waited.

The rain intensified. It crashed down the gutters. It cascaded off the roof. I was on the windward side of the building. Gusts flicked rain at me. Staying here for the duration of the storm would be foolish.

I noticed a large picnic shelter across the parking lot. I pedaled there into a large dry space.

I watched keenly to the west. I saw the back edge of the clouds low on the horizon. The sun's eye pierced through beneath this nimbus brow. I waited still. The rain continued, slackened; the umber landscape goldened.

I turned east. I might've thought, Could be a show.

A full rainbow arced across the dark sky's canvas. A second fainter one rippled upwards. I reached for my camera.


  1. Awesome! You captured his voice perfectly!

  2. I haven't read The River, but I really enjoyed this writing style. So many sound words - my goodness! In fact, sensory details jumped out all over the place and the sentence structure was great. Hmm... should I go read Heller or just stick with your blog?

  3. Wow. What a sight! This feels like a metaphor to me- that the hard times come but don't last and something beautiful can come after it. As always, love your writing.