The Rhythm of Life


Eddie Hardman

Charles glanced up at a gray sky taking form">



The Rhythm of Life


Eddie Hardman

Charles glanced up at a gray sky taking form, if you can say clouds have definition. He loved this time of year in West Virginia, the sky took on an atmosphere that was both real and yet surreal. Perhaps that's why he was cruising. His appointment had cancelled, there was no need to rush home. He'd got to pick Jason up soon anyway. Another quick look at the Sky, I'll drive some more he thought. Then, frowning he recalling the incident 'Did she see me?'.

Dark threatening clouds scudding across a gray white sky, as if herding fluffy sheep into a corral. The weaker ones bursting into tears as they careered off each other. The bigger darker bullies in too much of a hurry, pushing and shoving like sightseeing tourists in a queue, it would only take one slight bump to cause an angry late summer storm.

Trees waving in the breeze, reaching for the heavens, their very life depending on the moisture suspended in gods bathtub. Leaves displaying a rich dappled green with a hint of autumn red, a colour designed to entice the last of the summer rain. Birds quiet and subdued, anticipating the deluge to come.

Downtown Richmond was busy; the central business district was still trying to look like a summer carnival. Buntings and what was once brightly coloured flags on short poles hanging vertically from street lamp posts, were now faded and looking sad, no one noticed. Shoppers already carrying their warm coats and umbrellas, just in case the weather turned, today their worst fears would be fulfilled. Summer had drawn toward autumn, the starkness of winter with its own beauty; ice crystals, snow and naked Aspens, just around the corner.

Charles was cruising along the damp streets with time to kill; why do people renege on their appointments? No point in going home, Jason will have finished training in an hour, may as well hang around. No where to park, might as well cruise. Nearly ran his own sister over, bloody mobile phones. She must have recognised me? And that song, playing just then on the radio, their song when they were kids, The Rhythm of Life. They always remembered each other when that song was playing. She was......Sweet Charity. That was the first movie the twins saw without Dad after he died, memories, they were close then with Mom too. What's happened to us? She must have seen me? He stopped on a red light.

The weather looked cold, shivering he turned the heater up another couple of notches. This last hour had given him time to think. Blood IS thicker than water! This last year had been eventful to say the least. Mom had remarried, and now his sister had joined that family as well, how? What had happened to them all? How could they do that?

He suddenly realised how lonely he was; I should have gone to the wedding - weddings he corrected himself. It's not them, it's me. He gripped the wheel harder, checking the sky again with one eye on the lights in case they turned to green. A flash of colour caught his eye from across the road. It was Karen again, this time Ben was with her. They were running together under a luminous umbrella toward the brownstone surgery of Dr. Sinclair, the old family quack. She must have seen me? he pondered again. Perhaps she was in shock. The lights went green.

Disturbed he set off, worrying. My sister is one of the healthiest people I know. Although it must be months since he'd seen her, just before the wedding. 'Jesus! did I say all that!....' remembering that fateful night of the stag party and his unforgivable ranting at her choice of husband, "I was drunk" trying to justify himself.

"I hope she's OK!" he mumbled through clenched teeth, he needed to find out. The lights changed. A short distance down the road he stopped, turned around and headed back to Dr. Sinclair's. Pulling in behind Ben's car he parked and began to wait. It then occurred to him that they may be in there for a while and he didn't think he could cope with talking to his brother in law after the last time he saw him, whilst waiting for Karen to emerge from Old Sinny's surgery. There again, it may not be Karen that has the problem.

He started the engine up again and headed back into the central business district. Now is the time to do what he should have done a long time ago, hoping he would be back before they left. Ducking into the shop of his choice, he made his purchase and walked briskly back to the car.

As Charles pulled into the parking lot he was pleased to see Ben's car was still there. He waited, listening to the light rain on the roof of the car, tapping his fingers to that song...


Watching the door to the surgery in the wing mirror...


even the wipers kept time to the rhythm.

When Karen and Ben emerged from the ornate polished doors, the gaily coloured umbrella popped loudly as it went up. Not until they drew level with his car did Karen recognise Charles. She stopped, pulling Ben to a sudden halt. They stood there staring in disbelief, she had seen him at that intersection earlier, she couldn't be sure if it was his fault, she was worried just the same. Charles was still sitting behind the wheel watching them intently, himself a little nervous.

Ben put his arm around Karen drawing her closer, a gesture of protection, was it for himself or for his wife?. A little doubtful of the reception he would receive from his brother in law considering their last encounter; I should have stayed in Detroit he thought, no! looking at Karen, maybe not. Karen prepared to place herself between her husband and her brother.

Just then the rain came down quite heavy, no one seemed to notice. Charles opened his door and got out, he was no more than a couple of steps from where they were standing. Leaning back inside the car as if to get something, he turned his head looking at them through the rain streaked windscreen. They didn't move, saying nothing, looking apprehensive. Charles stood up, taking only one small step forward, half smiled and held a bunch of flowers out toward them.

Always a well dressed man, Charles stood there for what seemed an eternity, not caring about the rain, none of them noticing the flash of light. Daring himself to make another move. Taking another small step forward as if he was slowly approaching an injured and frightened animal. The rain now coming down so hard that Charles's blond hair began to fall across his face, his light beige overcoat going darker in spots where the rain splashed. He stood staring at his twin sister only glancing occasionally at Ben, not saying anything not daring to in case they didn't understand and the moment was lost.

Ben opened his mouth as if to speak, just as a loud clap of thunder drowned out all sound for what seemed like a thousand miles. The wind tearing the umbrella out of Karen's hand turning it inside out, blowing it over the car to wedge it against the garden wall. They all glanced up and around, smiling as the tension broke. Charles trying to say something but the words failing to come out, the flowers in his hand laughing with their bright colours.

Karen fell into her brothers arms hugging and crying. Wet hair mingling making it hard to see who's was who's, the only identical thing about the pair. Ben smiled, he was happy for his wife, he went to retrieved the broken umbrella, partly, so no one could see his tears.

After a short while they pulled apart, Karen taking the flowers in one hand and hanging on her brothers arm with the other. Charles offered his free hand to Ben, unable to say sorry. Ben took it as warmly and generously as he possibly could, grinning, he said "Hi brother". Charles gripped Ben's hand likewise, his other hand now moving towards Ben's shoulder, a tight lipped smile crossed his face as he tried desperately to hold back his emotions, and he could only nod in agreement.

They hugged, each one patting the other on the back. Charles pulling away still holding on to Ben, turned to Karen taking hold of her lower arm the flowers still in her hand a concerned look on his face he nodded toward the surgery and asked "you ok?"

Karen glanced toward her husband apprehensive, she slipped her free hand into his arm, Ben, a brilliant white grin against an ebony black face, nodded. She looked at her brother and said "Ben and I would like you to be the first to know, we are having twins..."

Charles's look of astonishment turned to a broad beaming smile and then, they were all, laughing to the rhythm of the rain.

The end