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The Gray God Stirs
Part 1: Superstitious Observations of Maryland Weather: 8/1/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County, Cecil County and Ocean City, Maryland: July, 2022
Written from memory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 8/9/2022
Garden planting in this region was 2 weeks to a month behind normal. The spring was cool. I have yet to experience a hot night in the Mid-Atlantic this year or last, despite some very hot and humid days. The pattern I am about to describe for Maryland holds here, in Western, Pennsylvania at the head of the Ohio Valley.
Once a week there is a day and night of overcast skies and rain, perhaps heavy, perhaps light. Last night and today, here in Pittsburgh is that day.
For most of the week, the night and morning are cool with heavy clouds spotting the sky in one quarter, usually the western quarter.
By afternoon, grey thunderheads, from among the building, billowing, cottony clouds of white thunderheads begin to build, the gray and slate underbelly of these clouds announcing their intent.
Spots of drizzle or downpours of sheeting rain will dot the area, giving the viewer a view to a sky similar to the west, were storms can be seen from a distance, watering a specific location.
Throughout the day, the personal effect on this thin-skinned bald-headed ape, is that I may remove my hat for a quarter to half of the daylight hours without fear of sunburn, depending on where the clouds rotate in relation to the passing sun.
The overall effect is cool evening and mornings, even when the day is broiling, and that even during that hot day, and even in the sun, when a breeze brushes your skin, it is a cool kiss.
Then there are the odd events, increasing in frequency and severity: sudden storms and tornadoes, needing to wear a jacket one July night in Newport, Kentucky.
Last Thursday night, I bussed over to the East Side to spend the night with Megan and say goodbye. When I waited on the bus on Northern Parkway and Harford Road, I was able to take off my hat at 3:30 in the afternoon, due to a huge, building thunderhead in the western sky, blotting out the sun.
The bus was near empty, with the Negroes beginning to catch the coming season of fright and masking back up. I wore no backpack and was armed with a flat war club, a razor, a tactical pen and three knives.
Offloading in Essex to transfer to the Orange Line, the sky was now ominous in the western quarter, empty in the east, the sun merely a disc of lesser gloom behind the great clouds.
Offloading at Eastpoint, just north of the City Line at 4:30, the buses were at 10% occupancy at the busiest time of day and there was a strange personal atmosphere. I bought a coffee in the nearly deserted Dunkin’ Doughnuts, sipped and walked. I bought 3 cans of light beer at the Paki Liquor Store, Megan assuring me by phone that she had her ration of vodka at home.
The local hooker, a tall and still pretty brunette with tattooed belly and cut off jeans, passed me twice, called me “Sir,” did not suggest a tryst, and thanked me for making way for her once with a tear in her eye, as she raised her umbrella and sought the sanctuary of the bare alley behind the store fronts on the west side of Eastern.
The Negroes avoided me like monkeys avoiding a leopard with an instinctive and indirect respect, as they skittishly regarded the sky with a more palpable fear. The Latinos were in a directive hurry, piloting their white pickup trucks like counterfeit a hurry as calculated as the Negro worry was giddy. The whites, other than Megan and the hooker, milled, stood and ambled in a strange trance.
I stood on various corners and secondary street berms for a half hour waiting for her to get off of work. Thunder crackled in the distance, lightning back-lighting the building clouds from the west and now southwest, the slate clouds thickest over the City below us.
As I walked her home she spoke of work, of how most of their new cars are being recalled and the engines seizing up, of the used cars breaking down on the drive off the lot, of the fact that car buyers scream at her and throw keys at her daily as she operates the car dealership switchboard, that the parts for these non-working cars are months away and that when rental cars are available to be assigned by the insurers, that they are only available for the first of the three months that the car is in the shop, that the service center does not answer calls, that her managers do not bother picking up the phone, and that a drink would be nice…
By the time we get home a half mile up the hill with the three cans of beer I bought, the thunder and lightning is crackling and sizzling. I said, “The Grey God is rising.”
Megan’s 12-year-old niece, who came running down the street, for shelter heard this and said, “What the fuck, Aunt Megan—Uncle Jim is cool as shit. Can you believe this shit—a storm! I’m scarred!”
At 5:30 the heavens burst and drove heavy rains that dumped 4 inches on the East Side. The power flickered on and off. Flop the Zero Phone sends me numerous government panic warnings. I stand drinking beer as the worried hens of four generations of one family shiver nervously and the porch roof leaks into the front door. I have never seen 2 hours straight of ambient sheet lightning punctuated by stabs of bolts and splitting cracks of thunder.
Basements flood up hill. Trashcans are blown down the allies.
7:30 the rain slackens off to a steady pour and lightning continues.
“Poppy,” says Megan, “I miscalculated the Vodka supply. Could we go get some?”
“No, I’ll go. The Negroes will be out at East Point. Never go up there after six, not even with me.”
To be continued in:
Paveman Jones
Part 2: Superstitious Observations of Maryland Weather: 8/1/2022
‘Settling Down?’
harm city to chicongo
Paveman Jones
son of a lesser god
taboo you
barbarism versus civilization
into leviathan’s maw
on the overton railroad
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