creative corner

The Caretaker

The late afternoon was thoroughly miserable for fair-weather types. Mist and fog and a gray sky may seem romantic to the poetic soul, but tend to induce an acute sense of loneliness in most people. But that’s what makes society in general so interesting. Humans would be a thoroughly boring lot if they all lived by themselves. And I couldn’t stand to be bored all the time.

The sky began to drizzle, and the gentle pattering sound of the rain muffled the swearing of those unfortunate enough to be caught outside. One man who tried to get into his car too fast triggered his car alarm, and the obnoxious howling of the alarm further dampened the overall mood with an edge of irritability. It was a struggle not to intervene. But what was I going to do – cause the rain to stop and explode fireworks to make everyone stare in awe? Not my job.

Thunder began to roll as the rain intensified. Truly not a good time to be out. I wondered what the people would do when they got back home. Some would probably stare at the water rolling down the windows and empty their mind of all thought. It’s one form of meditation. Maybe some creative souls would create brilliant works of art in their captivity. Others would feel sorry for themselves. But most would probably gather together and do their very best to shake off the rain like a wet dog, laughing and talking loquaciously to convince themselves the rain was about to run its course.

I sighed as I saw the car alarm man drive off without turning on his headlights. His odds of reaching home safely were not so good, given his evident state of intoxication. I could have followed him to find out his fate, but I chose not to. Death is the inevitable result of the state of life and must result at some point in time. While it is not something that can be avoided, neither is it something to surround yourself with unnecessarily. Again, not my job.

A lightning strike hit a tree nearby, and the magnificent oak threw off sparks and sizzles as it toppled into the road. Truly spectacular. The emergency road crews would not have an easy time moving the tree. Two hundred years of growth take more than a few minutes to subdue. In a few days, of course, after the chainsaws subsided and a lumber truck rattled off with the last of the wood, a stump would be the only evidence that the tree ever existed. Rather like a gravestone, in a way.

The wind began to pick up as the storm moved in, gusting madly and blowing all sorts of detritus around. So near the ocean, there was little shelter, and by now most people had the good sense to be indoors. A great step up from primitive times when all man could do was huddle in the cave and pray to the gods for relief. Another falling tree took out the main power line running through town. Well, maybe not that much of a step up. Darkness descended as the ominous black clouds frowned over the now lightless community.

The waves on the nearby beach began to tower high above the sand. It didn’t look good for the homes around the water. But with the power out, who would be able to issue a general evacuation order?  TV, electric radio – another tree strategically placed – and phones were now all useless. With the horrendous gale-force wind blowing outside, it was unlikely that anyone would dare to venture out.  Probably the weathermen were already scrambling, wondering how they could have missed a storm of this magnitude.

The downpour escalated to intense levels. I no longer had to wonder what people were doing at home. At this point, certainly, all were watching the weather outside, wondering what would happen. Perhaps the more intelligent ones had already realized the menace of the ocean and were frantically trying to prepare for the water’s incursion.

It is only at times like these that most people realize how insignificant they are compared to the raw power of natural forces. Quite helpful, really. Without these little reminders, the only motivation mankind would have to develop itself would be money. And what good would that be? The need for survival is much more pressing and strikes the deepest chord in the human psyche.

The hurricane gained yet more strength, fast on its way to legend, and the waves began to crash against the buildings in town, and no sound could be heard save for the thunder and the rain and the roar of the ocean breaking its way into people’s homes. Stripped of their modern-day protections, the townspeople reverted to the behavior of their primitive ancestors and began to pray for help. Such an exquisite irony. But while death is not something to surround yourself with unnecessarily, neither is it something to be avoided when required. Divine deliverance is not my job.