Friday, October 30, 2015

Free Fiction: Umbrella Renegade

Phillip pushed on the brake pedal and the car slowed to a stop, still out on the street and yards away from his driveway. The windshield wipers flicked back and forth, clearing his sight. In the backseat waited four bags laden with groceries, and intentions to make a roast duck dinner as well as a cinnamon bread for dessert.

Paused in the middle of the road for safety, Phillip didn't dare drive any further. Oscar traipsed near the curb, vainly stumbling after an umbrella that turned its handle away with the gusting wind at every attempt Oscar made to grab it.

The umbrella was overly large, the sort used at golf tournaments, and with a smooth convex exterior, and only a slippery button at the very top instead of a more useful rounded spike to grab at. The wide girth of the canopy kept Oscar reaching around and around, not quite grasping the handle. Just as he stretched out, the wind would blow and the umbrella would dance, roll, and jig away again.

Oscar took one step down into the street and finally caught the recalcitrant umbrella. He lifted the umbrella over his head triumphantly and Phillip said a little prayer that it wouldn't work like a lightning rod and call down fire from the sky.

Oscar looked over and realized Phillip was there, holding up traffic in his honor. Oscar looked up at the umbrella, shrugged, and then waved at Phillip. Then he did a sort of shuffle tap dance step in a puddle of water, kicking up a spray, and a quick little jump in the air. In his younger days, he'd have kicked his heels together and landed with time to spare, but he still gave a darned good impression.

Phillip pulled the car into the garage and came around to peer at Oscar, still in the rain. "Having fun?" he asked.

"I wasn't," Oscar said. The handle of the umbrella curved over into a rounded cane and he twirled the entire thing around his wrist. It didn't quite make a full revolution given its enormous circumference, but it looked spectacular anyway. "But I decided to hell with being grumpy about it."

"Good for you!" Phillip called out, although he did not step out into the pattering rain. "What're you doing out there anyway?"

"Edna called and needed me to come close some windows for her," he said, referring to an elderly neighbor down the street. She still stubbornly lived on her own, keeping her freedom and independence, but she did sometimes need a little assistance. "Wooden frames swelled up with the humidity and rain. I got most of them unstuck, but there's one that's going to need super human strength to get it moving again. Or I can go over and close it when it stops raining."

"What're you doing staying out there?" Phillip asked. He watched water drip off Oscar's nose.

"Why, I suppose, I'm coming in for soup." Oscar bounded forward. "And a kiss!" He caught Phillip up in a strong hug and planted a drippy, wet kiss on Phillip's forehead, dampening him from head to toe in transferred rainwater. "There," said Oscar. "That's much better."

"You're incorrigible!" Phillip called out after him, but even though he was now wetter than he'd wanted to get, it was worth it for catching Oscar is an incredibly rare buoyant mood, and the priceless memory of Oscar battling the umbrella.

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