Trench Coat

The rain was ruining his hat, and he knew it. He could feel the sharp brim starting to droop under the sog, and he had an unclouded vision of the feather, how it must have looked like a sad little puppy fresh from the bath, soaked to the bone and prideless. There was nothing he could do about it, and he felt even more foolish, for only a fool would stand out in the open, in the rain.

There were stages of environmental distress that went from tolerable to in-, and despite the thorough drenching he had received he was still in what he would consider the bearable range. It was subjective, of course, but as he had spent more than his fair share of days and nights exposed to inclement weather his level of tolerance was rather high. His employers understood that, and that was why they had chosen him for the job.

The building opposite was so dark and silent that it appeared abandoned. He had been keeping an eye on it for a week, coming every morning just after seven, a fresh cup of coffee in one hand and his metal lunch box in the other. There was no food in the lunch box, and he ate at a nearby diner that had a near perfect sightline on the building. Near but not, and so he forced himself to stand in a dim alcove opposite the building’s only known entrance. No one had come or gone in the seven days that he had stood watch.

The rain was heavy enough to obscure his vision, and it turned the black brick face of his target into a watery haze. Fine mist blew out from the stone window ledges that hung like pouting lips from boarded up mouths, all held aloft by gaping arches that now spewed torrents of water into the street. He felt a sudden melancholy overtake him, and though he was neither a romantic nor sentimental man he felt his watchful outward gaze interrupted by a brief glance inward, and he shuddered, for he did not like what he saw. He blinked and took a deep breath, and when his vision cleared, he was certain that it was just in time to see the front door of the building click closed.

He reached down and retrieved the lunch box from its place at his feet. It was time to go to work.

2014.12.15 – 2023.07.17

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