Long day today. I hadn’t seen Amber in a few days. She came by to ask why I wasn’t keeping my journal. I lost track of how many days I’ve been here, so even if I started back on the journal for the Zoës, I wouldn’t know how to date it. I almost told her I was keeping a private journal, but if I did that my private journal wouldn’t be private anymore. I couldn’t see in her any hint she knew about it. It’s obvious that they aren’t mind readers, and that if God is concerned about it, He’s not telling them. I told her I didn’t want to talk about Zoë stuff like that. She seemed sad, and I knew I had once again cut her off. But I didn’t want to deal with her Zoë concern about me. She left after a little while.
Eddy had said he had something to show me. I was to meet him behind the hardware store where he was working now. Eddy got a job somehow, though. He got off work at 3:00, like just about everybody else. No one works on Sunday, and a lot of businesses are only open a few days a week. This is not your good old-fashioned capitalism. If I needed a shovel for my garden, even though I have no money, and I’ve been out of work since filling in the great Casiel Crater, I could go into Tillie’s Hardware and tell her I needed a shovel, and she’d loan it to me either until I don’t need it anymore or until I was working and could pay for it. There was no paperwork needed, just tell her I need it. Honor system all the way down.
I arrived about quarter after three. The alley, like everything else, was clean. The only litter I saw was at Eddy’s feet. He’d dropped his sandwich paper on the ground. Paper biodegrades pretty quickly, but even so I couldn’t imagine anyone dropping litter on the ground.
“Hey, Meteor Man, what kept you?” he said.
“I got distracted. Have you seen the clouds?”
Eddy said he hadn’t been paying attention. Then he put a pipe in my hand.
“Something you’ve probably never seen.”
“Check it out! Working here’s been a boon.”
A gust of wind blew dirt into my eye. I heard thunder in the distance.
“What do you need a bomb for?”
“A pipe bomb is not a self-defense weapon.”
“A pistol is a lot harder to make.”
“You’re going to hurt people, Eddy. You’ll get hurt, yourself.”
“Don’t be a chickenshit. Like Debs said, ‘“While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.’ Feeling free lately, Meteor Man? Or is your star already fallen?”
It started raining. Hard. I’ve seen rain here, lots of times. Nice gentle rains, occasional thunderstorm. I’d never seen anything like this. It was blowing hell and we were getting pelted with more than rain. I got bonked by some huge hail before we remembered we didn’t need a key to get into the store.
It was dark inside, and I was dripping water on Tillie’s red and white tile floor. I could hear the hail drumming on the roof, the wind slamming sheets of water against the windows. The brick street out front was a brown river. The restaurant across the street lost its potted plants, then the tables and chairs blew over. One caught the wind and flew, another went through the restaurant window. The awning bent backward against the building, one corner riped off, then the whole thing flew away. A tree limb went cartwheeling down the street. Then I heard a deep rumbling sound that began building to a roar and felt my ears pop at the sickening drop in pressure.
“Eddy!” I yelled. “It’s a tornado. We need to get into a room with no windows. Like the bathroom.”
“It’s at the…”
The roof lifted off and then fell back askew on the walls and began sliding down into the store on top of us. I dived under a display table just before the roof caved in.