Blakka’s Rainy Day: a short story from Jamaica

This is an adaptation of a half-finished (and very short) story. I hope it works. This is in response to the Bloganuary challenge: “Write a short story or poem about rain.” Yes, we are getting creative (and it actually rained today, so the tree frogs are singing outside my window).

Blakka’s rainy day

George “Blakka” Henderson liked to argue with people. It was almost a hobby of his.

From around seven o’clock in the morning, fortified by a substantial breakfast (Blakka was a conscientious eater) his voice could be heard, ringing out across the neighborhood. He would begin with an instant, sudden verbal assault on the senses, proposing a highly controversial point of view: for example, that all the stray dogs in the neighborhood (and even those with owners) should be rounded up and shot, and their meat distributed to feed the poorest residents. Preposterous, of course.

“No, man,” someone would murmur. If anyone remonstrated with him (even as they were passing by), as they inevitably did before too long, this was the catalyst for Blakka. It was like striking a match. He would warm to his argument. If anyone made light of his words – let alone made a joke or teased him – the match was lit and Blakka was on fire. He could never see humor in anything.

“Hold on, hold on!” he would shout, his voice rising, while his interlocutor retreated into the background, shaking his head. Blakka would remind all and sundry that the Chinese ate dog; that there were too many stray dogs around (he had a point there); and that dog meat didn’t taste bad. Each point was prefaced with the stentorian “Hold on!” – although by that time his opponent had likely given up the fight, and had actually let go.

Blakka liked a good debate, certainly; but it was nothing like the pompous, sterile debates in Parliament. Nor did his debates resemble the smart, wisecracking debates at the University of the West Indies, where the debaters would cry the equivalent of “gotcha!” at certain points, to tumultuous applause.

Blacka’s debates were pure emotion.

By mid-afternoon, Blakka began to tire. He would quieten down, brooding over a “whites” in the nearest bar. He had run out of steam. However, just in case, no one came too close to him or had any conversation with him – in case he started up again.

Blakka was a man on a short fuse, indeed. One day, that fuse was dampened – by rain.

This was no ordinary rain, even by the standards of tropical excess. It started quietly enough, as Blakka was tucking into his stewed chicken and boiled banana, washed down with a large mug of Milo. A drifting rain, scattered on the road. Some passersby didn’t even carry umbrellas, as Blakka observed from his verandah. He threw his bones to one of the stray dogs (they had not yet been rounded up and eaten), and stepped out onto the street.

His intended topic of the day was: the benefits of having a woman who enjoyed… Well, it was likely to become a little salacious. Blakka’s monologues were known to descend into the gutter, sometimes. His neighbours would express their irritation and disapproval in various ways, but to no avail. Blakka would persist, despite protests.

As he opened his mouth to begin (rubbing his stomach after his excellent breakfast) the weather appeared to disapprove, too. After a few preliminary large drops splashed into the dust, the rain suddenly accelerated and, with a loud rumble, came down in torrents. Within five minutes, the surface of the road began to boil and bubble. Women screamed and scampered for shelter. Blakka stepped backwards, slipped and fell, pulled himself up again, and threw himself sideways onto the verandah, sending his Milo mug flying. Hauling himself up onto his chair, he sat and glared at the rain.

And the rain wasn’t going to stop there. The community had not seen the half of it, yet. It was relentless. By the end of the day, it had filled the narrow gully across the road, which began to spill its somewhat unpleasant contents and merged with the rushing river that was the road.

Blakka was only temporarily confounded. After rubbing his head dry with a towel, brushing himself off, and retrieving his plastic flipflops from the bottom of the steps, he sat down again. He growled at the sight of his broken mug. And then, from his verandah, he began his diatribe. The topic had changed. It was the rain, and the debate was regrettably punctuated with expletives.

Thankfully, the thundering rain was so loud that none of his neighbours could hear.

From that day onwards, before he emerged to begin his morning lecture, Blakka would take a long, searching look at the sky. Any gathering clouds would cause him to hesitate, and retreat to his verandah.

On rainy days, only the dogs were listening.

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