Heavy draperies of rain were torn and gathered again as this storm off the Pacific overwhelmed windshield wipers and bounced headlight shine back from just past the hood of the Jeep. It was really like driving in fog.
The rain piled up faster than it could run off the road and even though there was no traffic at this hour Jack Durant had to slow at times just to locate the white line to be sure he was not about to drive off the pavement.
It took longer to get home than he thought it would. He disliked the sense of being late even when there was no deadline, that time itself was a slurry that sucked at each step and kept him from ever being able to catch up.
Durant pulled into the carport of the apartment building just after 3 a.m., grabbed a cloth bag from the seat beside him and walked to his apartment.
He fumbled the key in the still unfamiliar lock but got in quietly enough and threw the bag at the roll top desk. He took a spray bottle of diluted bleach and vinegar from under the kitchen sink, went out to his truck and cleaned the seat, the steering wheel and the floor mats.
Back in the apartment he dumped the contents of the bag into a drawer in the desk, then threw the bag in the fireplace.
He stripped naked, gathered up the clothes he had been wearing, including a down vest and a pair of fairly new and expensive boots, and put them in the fireplace on top of the bag and the cleaning rags.
It took less than five minutes after he lit the natural gas for everything but the boots to completely disappear, they were gone in fifteen.
He could smell the stench of the burning synthetics and wondered if neighbors would notice. He took a large Rubbermade bowl from under the sink and scorched it in the flames, then doused it in the sink.
The shower was so hot it scalded his skin. He soaped himself twice and rinsed standing with his head tilted back to the faucet, eyes closed against the spray.
Finally, he dried himself and went to bed. He pulled the quilt to his chin and tried to erase images that floated back to his mind’s eye. He had to keep bringing himself back to this lousy apartment just to avoid looking at things he no longer wanted to see.