HIBERNATING IN THE RAIN by Brian Roper

Posted: March 31, 2007 in The Roper Files

It’s the beginning of what passes for Spring here in Texas. The temperatures are moderate enough to be called tolerable (it won’t last long though) I don’t have to run or operate either the heat nor the A/C, the only break on the utilities I get until fall (which is even shorter than spring)

Texas is going into it’s third year of drought, but we are not without rainfall. It seems to start every afternoon, just about the time I clock out of work. The oily streets become slick with even the lightest rain and yet people speed along as if nothing’s happening at all. One accident and the freeway’s a parking lot. 

On my precious days off when it starts raining I can listen out the door just a few feet from my computer and hear sirens wailing away out on the freeway. I have awnings on my windows; when the wind blows they flap around and make a lot of noise. I can also hear the rain falling on them. The sound helps me sleep and when it rains I take a lot of naps. Don’t want to operate the computer or turn on any other electronics during a storm, so napping just makes a lot of sense to me.

Slept until noon yesterday. Got up and the sky had opened wide; pouring rain. Minutes later, it stops. Walk to the cafe down the street for a quick brunch. I was expecting to see the usual parked-up-and-down-the-street traffic the cafe usually generates about noon. There is one baby-faced waitress that works there that packs the place. Every landscaper, roofer, A/C and heat and cable guy etc. in Fort Worths’ West Side  all eating elbow-to-elbow as they all drool at her cute ass. Instead there are only a few cars there. Something is wrong. Walk in and not only is my favorite spot on the counter open, so is the rest of the counter. There are only two or three other customers. What the hell? A much, uh, older waitress takes my order. So that’s it.

I am polite, eat my food when it quickly arrives. As I eat, I notice the radio is tuned to some oldies station I hate blaring mid-sixties Top40 pap instead of the usual country station ( I also hate ) Not that I actually miss that uber-stupid country station that degrades the end of each and every song with an annoying wolf call, but the country music itself was always part of eating at the cafes ambience. And now that’s changed, too.

I over-tip and exit. Walking out the door, I look up and down Montgomery Street. On my left I can see the historic Will Rogers Auditorium with its phallic tower sticking up and erect over the Fort Worth skyline. I can also see two of the five  museums that make up our Museum District.

But I can also see at least five empty businesses and two vacant lots. The city wants all the property between Lancaster Blvd. and I-30 for a Super Duper Mega Entertainment district. There are a few holdouts slowing this down. A giant heat-treating facility, a city credit union building, a very successful antiques mall and a building leased by Lockheed-Martin.

But these too will eventually fall and kneel to the big weenie of Eminent Domain. Or the city will increase taxes on everyone until they pack up and get out of the way.

 And it’s working, too. There’s a For Sale sign in front of my place; landlord says he can’t afford it anymore. Shit!

It’s easy for some asshole to grin at me and say: “Change is painful!” and harder for me to not pick up a blunt instrument and introduce them to some real pain. Fuckers!

Turning my back to the cafe, I sadly realize that this too could be a vacant lot next week for all I know. No more chicken-fried steaks you can cut with a fork. No more grilled catfish. No more fried chicken and mashed potatoes with that delicious white gravy. It appropriately starts to rain on me as I trudge back up the hill to the File23 compound where I will spend the rest of the day asleep.

BR

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