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The Weatherman

The Weatherman

By Aarush Joshi

It was a lovely day. Rain poured from the rooftops and gutters collapsed in on themselves, deluging the ground below with grime that had been years in production. A boreal wind was laughing, laughing as it threw windows open and slammed doors shut, ripped up lawn signs and did away with garden gnomes. Thunder echoed from high canyons of clouds and lightning shot through the sky, turning dark clouds into something akin to tormented lanterns. It was a lovely day.


Deep in the hinterland of America, a vagabond stood in front of cameras and green screens. Outside it was a lovely day—a stormy day. The vagabond looked solemn, waiting for the signal. Live! Ornate teeth flashed and gleamed like the Moon itself. The weatherman pointed here and then there and made grandiose circles with his arms, narrating the climate-related fate of the region for his segment, and was dismissed to applause all around. Another flawless performance. He had hardly needed to look over his notes. He walked out of the room after cursory farewells. 


A woman, the morning anchor, rushed to the weatherman, who was standing in the lovely rain. She had been waiting all morning to talk to him. She held an umbrella, although it did not seem to be large enough to accommodate both of them. She offered it to him. He refused it kindly. She expressed concern over his health, fearing he might catch a cold out here. Like an iceberg slowly stirring, he told her that when he was young, he had thought there was no better thing in life than a good storm. Not much, he assured her, had changed with time. This indirectly shut down the woman’s next request, which was whether the weatherman would come over for some coffee and to dry off. Subdued, she said her goodbyes and left him standing in the wind. 


Staring up at the sky, the vagabond felt the fresh water droplets that pattered on his face. He looked around casually, and saw no one. And so he dissolved into the rain, into the wind, into the storm. Travelling like a thunderbolt, the essence of him leaped from cumulonimbus to stratocumulus to cirrostratus clouds, travelling from the fading thunderheads to their remnants to the heralds of another storm some thousand miles away. 


Lightning struck a rod designed to capture it, and the rod sent the electric bolt hurtling to the ground, where instead of dissolving into nothing it incarnated into another suited, groomed man. His teeth were perfect, his eyes emotionless, and his face was only recognizable by how sculpted yet unremarkable it was. He opened the door to the news building, walking in like he owned the place, and stepped up to the green screen. With him came a rush of humidity, the smell of petrichor, and the overwhelming desire for an umbrella. 


Someone called for action, and in action did the weatherman leap, pointing out how a massive wall of water was heading for New York, and how the southern regions could expect some coastal showers as well. There were numbers, a lot of numbers, and percentages. It had taken a long time for the weatherman to understand what the numbers all meant. And the graphs, the colorful slope fields, the radars… But the weatherman had adapted. He had to. So he mercifully overlooked the false projections, the half-truths of the forecasts, the fundamental perversion of the weather that these people had wrapped up, slapped ribbons on, and sent out in billions of shining boxes around the world. 


“Let’s see what I have for you. Now, here you got some real doozies, some drenchers that are going to keep the City That Never Sleeps wishing that it had stayed in bed. Could actually see some flooding in eastern neighborhoods that haven’t fixed those pipes yet. I’m thinking about lightning, folks, lightning! So put those metal-tipped umbrellas away, ha. As for wind, be grateful they cancelled those flights, folks.”


There were those sitting at home, listening to the prophetic revelations of the weatherman, and wondering why he said things like “what I have for you.” It was the weather, after all. It wasn’t like he controlled it. He didn’t “have” anything for them.


The vagabond slipped out of the green screen room, thanking everyone. He decided to admire his handiwork, and dissolved once again into the air, floating through pressure differentials like he wasn’t there at all. He perched at the very top of the Empire State Building, watching as the last of the Sun was overcome by the storm. Thunder rolled, and he basked in the glory of another storm, another weather cycle. After his stint in the United States, he was thinking of going somewhere tropical for a while.


In the old days, he was respected, feared. In the old days there were prayers, and sacrifices, and he was foremost in thoughts. It was not like it made any difference to him, but it was appreciated. Maybe once in a while he would divert a lightning bolt from one of his devout worshippers. And now… now he was reduced to typhoons accredited to billionaires and corporations, droughts blamed on dam mismanagement, floods and fires with credit given to humanity. Earlier the weather was the work of divinity. What changed? Like a hurricane out of water, he felt himself fading. He had turned the weather worse–for some reason it was easier these days–with longer rains and thunder louder and dustier fields, and not a drop of praise. Steal one’s thunder indeed!


So he was exile in his own world, a vagabond, waif, masquerading as a weatherman so he could imply, subtly, ever-so-subtly that the weather was his to control. One day, he knew, he would be too weak for this. He would watch the weather channel and have no knowledge and power to be able to disagree. But for now…Lightning seared in lower Manhattan, and he smiled. It was still a lovely day.

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