Storm Secrets

Storm Secrets

Don did not consider himself a nobody
but neighbors knew him only
as the guy who spoke softly and drove a stick—
’92 dented red Chevy with a bumper sticker:
“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my
mind the most.” After Don’s divorce
he’d moved to Shamrock for a change of luck
and to chase storms across the Panhandle.
Hail his favorite: marble, golf ball, baseball
and gorilla—all were good for business.
A door-to-door door salesman, if only Don
had taken the body shop job, things
might have played out differently. Windshields
at two-hundred bucks a pop, those guys
cleaned up. But he’d wanted freedom
to pursue his passion—a taboo
among chasers—to punch the core of a super-
cell and steal its secret. Perhaps his zeal
worked against him. He’d get customers so
revved up about gust fronts, squall lines
and scud clouds, they’d want to invite the storm
in for lunch, not buy a low-e glass door
to keep it out. “Goddamnit, Don,” Romano,
his boss, would bellow. “Sales ain’t about openin’,
you idiot, it’s about closin’! BOOK
OR DIE!” The others snickered at the whiteboard’s
display of his missed quotas. Each morning he
swallowed this: it was like eating glass.
Each night over a TV dinner he prayed for a
super-cell to descend. And, without warning,
one came, rotating for hours, stripping
evergreens of leaves and limbs.
No thunder. No rain. The stones poured down.
Don drove, as if on ball bearings,
chasing the wake—blind
to what was chasing him. Had anyone asked
“Why’d you do it?” he couldn’t have said.
Seven inches in diameter, he left that gorilla-
stone on the desk next to Romano’s
bludgeoned head. At the U-Drop-Inn over
chicken fried steak, he waited for them
to come and take him away. The bar’s TV blasted
CNN: his face on national news. No,
Don did not consider himself a nobody
and now everyone knew
what he knew.

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