Last weekend, our county had a rare tornado warning that sent sirens ringing through the streets. Everyone was told to take shelter while the radio DJ played some Twista song because his sense of humor was apparently very dry. Meanwhile, I was driving my mother’s Venture with Nick the Twin sitting passenger, wondering what the odds actually were that this shitty rap single would be the last song we got to hear.
In the event of so much as a sprinkle, my family unplugs the computer. I’d gone from this level of security to sitting alone in some flooded street under an unsteady stoplight. The only other people I had seen in twenty minute’s time was a couple looking out from their home as they pulled their garage door down, and they had looked back at me and Nick as if to say they’d be praying for our souls.
“Thing is,” I started to think out loud, “there’s no tornado. It’s just perfect conditions for one.”
Nick shrugged, like he always does. The pelting rain was amusing me, but I’m sure he was bored. He’s often mentioning how safe he feels, while I’m driving. For some reason, I get a surge of concern whenever the speedometer gets high and he hasn’t grabbed the door. That afternoon, a juicy Robin had exploded against the windshield and Nick hadn’t flinched. Being the first thing I’d ever hit besides butterflies, I was upset.
“It was expected, considering you were going 90. It was stupid to fly out in front of you,” was all he’d had to say about it, slouched in the seat. A part of me is flattered that I have his trust, but another wants to tell him that I or anyone else could end his life, any given second.
We spent the sunnier part of that afternoon, cruising the garbage in other people’s garages. It’s amazing to me, that anyone would have the nerve to put a price on stuff that can only be described as Goodwill. Why should they make the money; they’re the ones trying to get other people to haul away their junk. Even so, we tried to follow the fluorescent signs to, as Nick put it, “find the treasure.” The most amusing thing I’d found was a floral-shirt patterned woman selling her cute little artsy-crafts alongside her very clashing and disturbing collection of bloody horror novels.
It was neigborhood of The Bratty Prince of Gays, Danstown. At one point in time we were 2 houses down from his residence. Dan has mentioned several times that the area is very religious and conservative, and sure enough. Every sale on his block had Amy Grant cassette tapes for sale. The inspirational hardcover version of some female country singer’s journey to happiness and success.
“If you see something and think it’s too much, we might be willing to come down on the price,” said one of the domesticated entrepreneurs bouncing a baby on her knee.
Then we hit this place that had boxes and boxes of old art supplies. The man overseeing kinda looked like you might think the stuff belonged to him. He was enough of a frizzy mess to be scary, like an artist, so I didn’t plan on hanging around the shed for more than a walk-through. My fingers dragged along the stacks of matting board, and it had me remembering when the art teacher taught me how to slice inner edges double-sided using some kind of T-Cross blade. That’s when the funny thing happened.
I recognized my own matting work.
There they were, the remains of what I’d left behind from my high school portrait display. Discarded measurements, too wide or too thin. Jet black with white trim. I suddenly started noticing other odd things that I had seen in the back of the classroom before a younger teacher replaced the old one…
“I did this,” I said to Nick, reaching out and grabbing a large square. He wasn’t sure what I meant.
“You did? You made that? I mean, how do you know?”
“This is mine. This must be where all of that stuff ended up. Wow.”
“Are you going to buy it?”
“No, we can go,” and as we crossed back over the front lawn, “I haven’t drawn anything in a long time.”
It wasn’t soon after that, when everyone began turning tail. Was it because sales ended around 5? Had the first raindrops summoned the tarps? Why are these guys crowded around the TV set, and how much do they want for it?
The dialogue is missing, because the men were using terms I’d never heard before. Something about the degree of storm warning and what state it implied the people were to abide by. I understood their faces and tones in the darkening garage, seriously worried about the weather. The occupants were bent down, pointing at one of those country maps as the digital colors swept over Michigan.
Excitedly, we ran back to the van and called it a day. There was never any tornado spotted, to my knowledge. A few people stood outside on their cells, looking up into the sky. A police car turned its lights on and shot off at high speed. Water continued to flood the Shiawassee River, but there wasn’t going to be any swirling funnel touching down. Just like there wasn’t any treasure to be found, or anything inside of those frames.
After the initial surprise and intensity had worn off, I fell into a depression behind the wheel.
“Maybe we’re in the eye,” Nick mused.