The rain came and went, but on this day it came and remained. It carefully and unprepossessedly drenched every available surface, sending sheets of water tumbling down from rooftops and overhangs. Few ventured onto the streets, and fewer lingered.
But one man endured the deluge nigh vis-à-vis; he stood calmly in an open stone square at the town’s epicenter, whistling softly to himself. A spindly umbrella bore the brunt of the flood’s force, collecting pools of rainwater in each of its syndactylic segments. Its ferrule thrust upward against the grain of the storm, splitting the sea above and shaping it into ten equal sectors. He held the simple metal handle with uncommon unconcern, spinning it jovially on occasion to liberate the water from its sagging form.
Despite his seeming best efforts, each inch of the suit that clung wearily but desperately to his figure had been saturated. The raindrops that surpassed the nylon phalanx or else snuck around it dripped down the length of his body, collecting in his shoes and overflowing onto the ground below.
The man refused to abandon hope, but after a while the umbrella proved not so resilient. With a discomfiting tearing sound the fabric surrendered to the downpour and hung in limp, torn strips from the steel shaft, leaving naught but a metallic skeleton between the man and the heavens. He folded up the fruitless accoutrement and withdrew himself from the square tout de suite. A heavy wooden door slammed resoundingly shut on his shadow as he disappeared into his home’s candent interior.
Moments later he reemerged, bearing a fresh smile and a stack of cinder blocks, which he deposited near the square before disappearing once more inside the house. A few trips later, after he had accreted a rather imposing and somewhat unsightly heap, he remained in the piazza and began to lay a foundation of sorts: a rectangle of concrete dominoes less one of the longer sides. He adjusted the dimensions once or twice and, at last content, commenced the second layer.
He made short work of the construction, in sum just eight blocks tall, then withdrew from his home its final component: a thin, pliable aluminum sheet. He placed the feeble roof on the makeshift shack and sat down on the soaked paving stones.
Leaning back cautiously against the side wall, he produced a pipe and book of matches from his breast pocket. He struck one against the driest available patch of concrete and lit the brier, dispatching a wispy trail of smoke up towards the roof of the enclosure, where it formed an ethereal pool so unlike the one opposite it. He relaxed, slouched a bit more, and gently closed his eyes. He inhaled deeply and listened to the plangent pluvial pattering on the metal panel.
The rain seemed unbothered by him and his improvised insulation. He let the world slip a little farther away. He let the hours pass by unnoticed but not unfelt. The rain had come, and eventually it would be time for it to go.