By: Michael McInnis
“Look at weather this morning?” Ciaran said.
“We’re fine here,” Nick said. “Doppler radar showed clear.”
“Not down South.”
“We’re not down South. We’re fine here. All day.”
“That’s got to be hell on earth down there,” Ciaran said.
Nick positioned a bundle of shingles on his right shoulder and followed Ciaran up the ladder and onto the roof.
“We get bad weather, too,” Nick said.
Ciaran straddled the peak of the roof and slit open a bundle of shingles with his utility knife. “Not like that. Not like that at all. Your man said three people died from a tornado.”
From the peak of the roof, Nick could see the city spread east to the harbor and the ocean. He counted the islands in the harbor, but could not smell the ocean. All he smelled was the tar paper heating up in the sun, the shingles getting softer as the sun climbed.
“I ever tell you that my grandfather was a tin can sailor? I like those words,” Nick said. “Tin cans.”
“What the fuck you on about?” Ciaran said.
“My grandfather served on a destroyer. They called them tin cans. He survived the largest
naval battle in history. His ship sank. Drifted in the water for two days before being rescued. By then half the men with him had gone under.”
“Half of how many?” Ciaran said.
“I don’t know. They were attacked by sharks, drank salt water, exhausted. You can’t blame them if they just let go.”
“Sharks. Bloody hell. Fuck that,” Ciaran said.
“I know. Sharks. You don’t even see them.”
Nick smelled the air changing, the taste of iron in his mouth, the ozone charging. To the west, cumulonimbus clouds clawed and struggled to mass, a looming, rumbling wall that crept east. Nick looked back at the harbor and realized he might have counted one of the smaller islands twice.
“Thought we were good for the day,” Ciaran said.
“We are. For the most part.”
Nick and Ciaran worked until the first drops of rain sputtered down on them. They pulled the blue tarp tight and battened it down with pieces of strapping.
“Let’s stay on the roof until this thing blows over,” Nick said.
They counted intervals between the lightening and thunder. The doppler radar had lied.
Ciaran looked at him. “I’m counting six seconds.”
“I lost count,” Nick said.
Michael McInnis lives in Boston and spent six years in the Navy sailing across the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the Persian Gulf three times, chasing white whales and ending up only with madness. He has published poetry and short fiction in Monkey Bicycle, Cream City Review, 5×5 Singles Club, Facets Magazine, Arshile, Nightmare of Reason, Oak Square, Quimby Quarterly and Version 90. Threadwaxing Space in New York City, Clovis Press in Brooklyn, Bershaud and Oni Galleries, Trident Booksellers, The Primal Plunge and Store 54 in Boston have presented him as a featured reader.