Sometimes Lanie’s mind clears as soon as she’s on the air, and she’s nothing but Chief Meteorologist—westerlies and cold snaps, the Cain-raisers that got her into this. Downward meanderings in the jet stream drag the polar vortex south, meandering the ratings up. To Lanie, it’s artic air where it shouldn’t be, all slick spots and drifts as high as knees. People die if she miscalculates, if she doesn’t track to the ampere. It’s how she knows she matters.
She wants to tell viewers how fragile their lives are, how easily they can lose everything, but local news has to be upbeat.
She wants to tell them how easy it isn’t, waving her arms around a blank screen, pretending the map is beside her. The anchors have teleprompters, but she has to work with what isn’t there. You try approximating the Gulf of Mexico, not pointing at Texas when you mean Florida. When she says it, it sounds simple.
People don’t feel about her the way they feel about the anchors, she knows this. She gives them the dew point anyway.
The only mail a meteorologist gets is hate mail. When the weather is good, she’s invisible. People can see wall-to-wall sunshine for themselves. When it’s bad, she’s the messenger they want to shoot. Luanne in Colfax documents Lanie’s failures on the Facebook: The sun was supposed to be out by Tuesday, she says, posting photos of her rain gauge. Lanie softpedals her replies. Another day or so of the wet stuff, Luanne, just hold on. Meteorologists aren’t wizards.
Sometimes she wants to burn everything to the ground.
She wants to show up at Luanne’s job and heckle her. A woman named Luanne works at the grocery she uses, what are the chances? She could make a scene about kumquat paucity, wait for a sale item to ring up regular price, then eviscerate her. She knows she can’t do that because she never stops being Chief Meteorologist, not even in line at Harris Teeter, a sack of kumquats hanging from her fingers like misgivings.
During the countdowns, she has these little panic attacks where she can’t remember putting on pants. She has a dream like this, too. Just as she’s getting her hose on, her son needs help zipping his coat. The cat throws up on the couch. The complication is different every time, but the dream always ends the same way. She’s in front of the blue screen, nothing but Control Top stockings, runs forking off the crotch, a Christmas sweater with Scotties on it. No one says anything because she’s the boss lady. She can not put on pants if she wants. She’s made it out the door without a bra before, so in that breath of dead air before she says Hi, folks anything seems possible.
She thinks about being on the road. Those people on the Cape in the hurricane, who wouldn’t leave. She warned them back at the chicken place, this is not the one to wait out. People want credit for waiting out storms, like if they do the spell of misfortune that has gripped the rest of their lives will somehow be broken, but Lanie knows better. Weather is impersonal, something to get out of the way of.
She told them she did weather on TV, to not be foolish. She offered them a ride out of town, but they wanted to watch that fucker roll in.
The lavender cloud wall, creeping toward shore like an alien ship, she’d wanted to see it herself.
Her mind never stops going over things.
The old man at the state fair who called her the weather girl, she still thinks of punching him in his scrotum.
She wants to punch a lot of people in the scrotum, sometimes her husband Tony, who is great, who she loves more than anyone, even the children. But some nights, she could use a little more room in the bed.
Sometimes she wants to punch someone in the scrotum, and he’s the first person she sees. She thinks if she did punch him there he’d forgive her, and this makes her feel guilty.
The cloud Lord Voldemort comes out of is called an arcus.
Saturn has a southern polar vortex that is warm.
In Zulia, Venezuela, at the mouth of the Catatumbo River, lightning flashes nonstop. It’s been happening for thousands of years.
The time she went, during the trial separation she said was to see weather American meteorologists could only dream of, all she did was sit under a coconut palm and catch breezes coming off Lake Maracaibo, counting the days until she heard a clap of thunder. The locals said she wouldn’t because their lightning is a special silent kind. They’re proud of it, of how its quiet unnerves foreigners accustomed to clamor. She closed her eyes and smelled rain moving in, trying to hold her breath until there was a rumble.
Photo By: kakade