Spiritual Intensity


Alli sat in the cafe while it rained. The glow of her computer reflected off her glasses. Outside the sun was setting. The curbs were becoming lakes. The passerby stepped away from the edge of the sidewalk as his taxi cab cruised in.

The sky continued to grow darker. The droplets lashed the window. Alli sipped her coffee and listened to the crescendo. The white noise drowned out the smooth jazz coming through the cafe speakers. Every now and again, the door would open with a gust of damp air and someone would come in, fussing over their coat or dripping umbrella.

The coffee was almost cold. Alli sipped the macchiato gingerly. Nearly a year since Dallas. She had heard the Lothario was somewhere in Thailand now, probably enjoying sunny beaches and coconut curry stew. Outside, the downpour would not let up. It seemed like it would rain all night.

Annoyed with her self-pity, Alli closed the laptop. She put on her black trench coat and paid her tab at the counter, before opening the glass door and stepping out into the deluge. Flagging down a taxi on her first try, Alli directed the yellow cab to her apartment.

Back home, Alli put on a dress shirt and some jeans. She put on her Rolex and a dot of cologne. Inside her closet, she checked her hairline in the mirror and then went back out, catching another cab, headed downtown.

She was back at Labyrinth, Dallas and her old stomping grounds. On the first floor was the bar, in the basement was the dance floor. Down in the club was dark as usual. Downstairs also had its own bar. A white-haired woman approached Alli from beyond her left elbow. The woman extended an arm, “Hi, I’m Xen.”

Alli enjoyed dancing with her. She was as buoyant and light, as Alli was circumscribed and stiff. “Let me buy you a drink,” Alli said, over the din emitted from the DJ’s box.

At nearly 1 AM, they walked to a local pizza joint, that served drunk food all night. Sitting at the white-and-red checkered table, Xen asked, “So, what do you do?”

“I’m an accountant,” Alli answered. She struggled to find a way to eat the greasy slice in a delicate way.

It was still raining when they snuggled together on the couch, in front of the fire, at Alli’s place. Rivulets ran down the glass. “You know,” Xen said, “I have a cabin in upstate New York – if you ever want to stop by during the weekend.”

“That would be nice,” Alli answered.

The wind shook the windows. They scrunched deeper under the afghan and watched the fire roar. The log broke and crumbled in the fireplace, with a series of loud snaps.

Alli wanted to believe that there was a cleansing, redemptive power in the rain, even when her hamstring hurt. That somewhere out there, there was a fresher, purer self, waiting to be born.