The next morning was overcast and cold. Soggy trees dripped as mournfully as the runny noses of chastened children. The storm had been brutal. The earth held a grudge against the sky. Only the grackles and turkey buzzards hopped around gleefully in the gloom. Black leaves and bracken clung unnaturally to my legs as I walked down the wooded pathway to school.
Every biome has its particular charm, every weather-constellation of wet and dry, light and dark, and hot and cold has its own eroticism. Even in the bruised and sullen morning, grayness had its moment of glory. Gray had its day. Houses were gray, streets, plants, and people. High gray in the sky, middle gray the trees. Macadam roads were a low, dark gray, as they should be. Gray, that most overlooked and despised color, neither hot nor cold, white nor black, gray is symbolic of all wishy-washiness, void of all vigor, neither good nor evil but a villainous, appalling other. Monochrome of monochromes! the hue of business suits, the color closest to invisible, the tint worn by all who long to be forgotten.
It allowed my passing to be unnoticed. I slipped down the greenbelt (today, a graybelt) like a mere distortion in the fabric of space. No one would be able to scrutinize my lunchbox or mock my choice of socks. Senses would be dulled. No one would see my oversized pants legs rolled up in anticipation of my growing into them. Grayness was my liberator, my aegis against the schoolyard bully who would be disoriented in the miasmic haze of gray. If I was to learn to diagram sentences and multiply fractions and sing Jimmy-Crack-Corn, let it be on a day devoted to gray, dammit.
Naturally, images from the previous night sprang instantly back to my mind when I woke, and they now occupied all my thought as I walked. Where did Ringo get that recipe? And what would become of all those bottles (except the one we kept) whisked away in the night by the mysterious First Nation gentleman? Standing there in the dark basement after he left, my uncle had given a very exhausted wave of his hand signaling that we should return upstairs and to bed. I carried up Hagar asleep on my hip, and I put my finger over my lips to exhort Enoch to his most catlike mounting of the wooden staircase. When they were both back in bed, nature, as I previously alluded, had called urgently and I finally went to attend her.
All night the storm had raged. The whole second floor lurched in the wind. At times the torrent of rain sounded like it contained a school of trout falling from the sky. I feared for Ringo’s basement quarters filling with water. Sure enough, in the morning the basement was a swimming pool with three feet of water. Most dishearteningly, Ringo and his Italian car, as well as the jars of ingredients were gone.
A page ripped from the book of Revelation from the big family Bible on a pedestal in the living room lay on the kitchen table with the words inscribed, “Until next year, Reginald.”