The Night it Rained Rembrandt – 2

The Night it Rained Rembrandt – 2

With the push of a button, live boxing was immediately replaced by live weather. The crowd at the far end of the bar appeared nonplussed by the sudden change of venue.

Barry glared at the screen as on-air meteorologist Melissa Campion stood in front of a computer-generated map of the US and related the latest tornado activity in the Great Plains. He hung on every closed-captioned word, feeling at ease that the evening’s local forecast called for a gentle ten-mile-per-hour northwest wind.

Barry’s mind drifted back, as it did every night, to another time, the memories as clear as sparkling water. He and his parents were emerging from the underground storm shelter. They turned to the right as they did after each tornado to assess for damages to their home. Only there was no home to assess. The structure had been reduced to fragments of splintered wood and shattered glass. Dad had torn through the debris in a frantic, desperate search. Realizing the safe was gone, he’d expanded the hunt, leaving wife and son to face their loss alone. Dad returned over a day later with the ninety-pound object clenched to his chest. The tornado had taken everything, but it hadn’t destroyed the safe – or its life-saving contents. As his father turned the combination lock, hands shaking nervously, neither he nor his spouse realized that eight-year-old Barry had vanished.

Laughter erupted from a corner of the bar and pulled Barry back to the present.

Angel was late. It didn’t surprise him. Angel was forever late. Barry liked to think that one day the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary might amend their definition of late to include Angel. He realized there was little chance of this happening since, without a doubt, none of the OED editors had even heard of Angel, much less knew about his blatant disregard for punctuality. Barry considered that one of his own associates might be able to influence the OED’s editorial board, but he quickly realized that no one within his circle of allies was likely to know where Oxford was located or have publishing connections. Upon further reflection Barry was fairly certain that those closest to him probably hadn’t seen a dictionary since grade school where they most likely had used it to look up dirty words. A wry smile stretched across his lips at the thought. It was the first time Barry had smiled in months, perhaps years. At that moment Barry realized that he’d forgotten what smiling felt like and now, having experienced it again, was unsure if he liked it.

A minute passed before Barry concluded that, in fact, he did not enjoy smiling. Not in the least.

And Angel was still MIA.

Next: Our story continues.

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