TWO STORIES by Robert Lopez


You’re Gonna Need My Help Someday

I never had a shoe I cared about except maybe this one pair of boots before the soles wore down thin as paper and I had to throw them out. There was no way to get traction and I’d slip on the ice and fall down hard. This was before I found out that you could re-sole a shoe, that you could take shoes to a cobbler and a day or two later they were fixed. So it’s possible those boots meant something to me because they were mine since I was a kid and I walked all over the country in them. They never reminded me of my father’s boots, which were always mud-soaked and had a pistol tucked deep inside, which is something I’ve never done even though I’m American, too.

Today I’m putting on new boots because it’s raining and when I say new I mean less than ten years old. I told Esperanza once that I didn’t want to go out in the rain anymore and she said if I found the spaces between drops I’d be fine, that nothing bad would happen. I didn’t bother telling her about losing traction years ago and how I got hurt on the ice because she was tired of excuses. Then she said something like, umbrellas also work.

This is how Esperanza talked all the time, so it was hopeless. Once she wanted me to take a class in communication, she said I needed the instruction. She’d taken a seminar or two and said it was helpful. Beneficial was the word she used to describe the classes.

Part of her homework was to call people by name but she made it a point never to practice on me.

I said something like, thousands of years of civilization and this is the best we’ve come up with, a hand held mushroom-shaped tent? A piece of fabric to hold overhead that yields and crumbles in the wind?

Esperanza didn’t know what I was talking about and neither did I, which probably proves her point.

This is when I asked about the rain, if she liked to listen to it at night, if it helped her sleep.

She said she didn’t need any help sleeping, that she needed help waking up.

I should probably mention that we were outside in the rain for this conversation. I couldn’t find the spaces between the drops and neither could she. I’m not sure either of us actually tried.

I asked what does all of this have to do with my shoes and she answered by walking down the street and never talking to me again.



What Doesn’t Help Me Sleep

I have a noise machine set to falling to rain and it helps me sleep. I’m not sure why falling rain helps me sleep because most nights I stay up for hours and listen to the falling rain instead of falling asleep like I’m supposed to do. This is exactly how it was in the shed growing up. Sometimes I’d stay awake the whole night waiting for the rain to stop because only then was it safe to sleep or maybe it was the other way around. That it was only safe to fall asleep once it started raining because this way my parents wouldn’t come out to torment and beat me. My parents didn’t beat me with a walking stick is something I should make clear. I think it was called a cane, although maybe it was a switch, but it never happened while it rained. My parents didn’t like the rain and wouldn’t come out to the shed until it stopped. Once I was out there alone for a whole week during a deluge that flooded the town. The only time I remember my parents in the rain was the night I saw a little girl who might’ve been my sister hiding behind them as they walked out to the shed. The reason I think she might’ve been my sister is she looked exactly like me only with hair and shorter. I asked them who is that behind you and they answered by caning my bare bottom and saying that strumpet is a gravel road on a rainy day. I didn’t ask about the little girl after that, although I used to think about her and what it meant to be a gravel road on any kind of day. Now I rarely stay up the whole night so the sound machine works more often than otherwise. Even so I can’t decide if I like the sound of falling rain from the noise machine better than the sound of falling rain from the sky. I try to compare the two sounds and I listen for patterns in clusters of rain or the differences between the collision of water and dirt as opposed to wood or tin or any material they use to construct a roof, but I know the sky is no longer up in the sky, which is why I prefer the noise machine now.



Photo used under CC