Red Rain

He rolled over, stiff and cold from where he’d collapsed the night before. The abandoned house, trashed from its misuses by the other druggies, left a fowl stench in his nose, making him gag.

Sid Clayton slowly sat up, hurting and dope sick. He knew he needed to find another fix soon or he’d really be in pain.

Money though was a problem for the 19-year-old as it often was for those hooked on heroin. Being a drug-fiend was an expensive occupation for a young man barely out of high school.

Once outside, he looked up at the cloudy skies and complained, “Gotta get some cash.”

Sid knew exactly what he needed to do to score both the money and the drugs. He would find an unlocked door to a nearby home and ransack it.

He had done it before and it was becoming easier. Sid never took actual items as he’d seen too many others in his situation get caught with cameras, cellphones and laptops.

“Plus, the pond shop always wants a photo idea,” he recalled.

After slipping into two houses undetected and finding nothing more than a few coins, Sid slipped back into the wooded area behind the residential neighborhood. By this time he was really beginning to feel the effects of his dope-sickness and it spurred him on to finding that ‘bigger’ score for the day’s high.

After rummaging around in a third home on the backside of the tract of homes he’d been at, and again finding nothing more than a couple of dollars and a pistol, Sid decided he must up his game. Then he remembered that down the street was Miss Drew’s home.

At one time the 87-year-old woman had been his Sunday School teacher, but that was years ago. What Sid was actually fixated on was the fact that in the past she’d been known to help those who asked her.

“And, all I need is twenty-bucks.”

He walked to her house, wiped off his dirt-stained tee-shirt and jeans as best he could, then knocked on her door. Seconds later the woman, jus’ as he remembered her, opened the door.

“Why Sidney Clayton, as I live and breathe,” she smiled. “Wipe your feet and come in. I’ll pour some coffee.”

Her home was warm and smelled of both fresh-baked bread and coffee. Sid realized that it had been a length of time since he last ate anything.

“So what brings you by?” Miss Drew asked.

Sid found it odd that she didn’t appear to notice his filthy, unkempt appearance or care for that matter that he still managed to track mud in across her living room carpet and into the kitchen, where she beckoned him to have a seat at her dining table. He suddenly found himself back in time, the seven-year-old in her class, as she placed a mug of coffee and two slices of bread, butter and jam on the side, in front of him.

“It’s so wonderful to see you, Sid,” she added.

He didn’t answer as he had a mouthful of food, and despite his drug habit, he still had some manners about him. As soon as he swallowed, he spoke, “Thank you, ma’am. I hadn’t eaten in a day or so.”

“Well, you eat up, there’s more where that came from.”

“Actually, Miss Drew, I need to borrow some money.”

“For more drugs, honey?”

She knew! Sid’s heart felt like it was going to explode from shame and he couldn’t look the old woman in the eye as he answered, “Yes. Yes, ma’am.”

“I’m sorry, Sid, but I don’t have but a couple of dollars and besides I wouldn’t give it to you so you can jus’ go off and fill your veins with more poison.”

She said it with such kindness, that Sid nearly got sick. He felt embarrassed and it angered him as he stood up and yanked the pistol from behind his back, aiming it at the woman.

“I need money. I’m sick and I’m getting sicker by the minute. Twenty-dollars is all I want.”

It were as if a there were a switch thrown in his brain, as the old lady was suddenly ramrod straight and appeared taller than he ever known her to be. As he watched her grow, be felt as if he were shrinking.

“You need to go, now, before you force me to call the sheriff,” she said sternly, as she lifted the telephone receiver from the wall.

“Twenty-bucks! That’s all I’m asking,” Sid pleaded loudly.

Miss Drew began to dial the phone and as she did Sid closed his eye’s tight, trying to rid himself of this self-imposed nightmare. He heard the roar of a thunder-clap as it ripped through his psyche and when he finally opened his eyes, to his horror, Miss Drew lay on her kitchen floor, still gripping the receiver, a red spot growing between her breasts.

Panicked, Sid quickly dumped the content of her purse out only to discover she had not been lying. She had only three one-dollar bills and a few pennies, nickles and dimes.

After going through her bedroom drawers, searching under her mattress and pilfering her desk, Sid walked out the front door and down the street. He quickly slipped between two houses and back into the woods where he’d come from.

As he hid behind a stand of trees, Sid felt a heavy drop of fluid land on his forehead. He reached up and wiped it away, looking at his hand in the process – it was blood-red.

Soon more and more bloody drops of rain struck him. He couldn’t help himself as he screamed and wiped the gooey residue off his skin.

Then he looked up to the sky and cried, “I’m sorry, God. Please make it stop!”

Sid bowed his head and cried until his sides ached. Still the bloody-rain continued to fall.

“What do you want me to do?!” he screamed.

By this time his tee-shirt, though dirty, had become stained a dark pink. He looked around and saw puddles filling with blood, thick and sickly looking.

Quietly, he dropped to his knees, removed the pistol from his waistband, and with tears streaming down his face, begged forgiveness as he place the barrel of the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Sid fell onto his right side, dead.

The following day, Ed Johnson and his dog, Buddy were walking through the woods, when the dog darted off the trail and into the deeper bushes. After calling for Buddy to return, Mr. Johnson decided to go retrieve the animal.

“Probably found another possum, damned dog, anyways,” he complained.

However, what the dog found was the body of Sid Clayton. Quickly, Mr. Johnson put the leash he had with him on Buddy and dragged the animal home so a call to the Sheriff’s Office could be made.

Within minutes, a deputy sheriff met the shaken man near where the body lay. The pair carefully entered the brush together.

The cruiser’s AM radio played in the background, “Authorities say that yesterday’s rare red-colored rain is actually the spores of a green algae that’s become airborne. Official’s say this algae isn’t dangerous to humans or animals. They do, however, recommend washing any produce before eating it…”

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