It rained the day that I found you waiting for a cross-town bus.
It rained the night that I lost you; the gods were playing “House on Fire” with us.
Ronny Graham “New Faces of 1952”
Tom Gunther was puzzled. Catherine had certainly changed. It’s true she had shown an independent streak the night of his party for the planning commission. He had been especially annoyed because she had spent the entire evening listening to that lush, Eve, blubber about her personal problems. He wanted Catherine to be hanging on his arm like an ornament so he could show her off. She was rich, beautiful, and sexy…quite a bauble for any man. Instead, they had quarreled. She said it was a party, not brain surgery and abruptly left. Then she disappeared for ten days Later Tom found out she had been viciously attacked, and fortunately, Dr. Sanderlee, a noted plastic surgeon, had been able to repair her face which had been badly slashed. Tom brought an enormous floral arrangement to her hospital room, and had spent some time with her, but all he could elicit from her bandaged face were garbled mumblings… something about the last chapter of Great Expectations.
After she recuperated, he took her to dinner a few times, but her icy demeanor sent signals that something had changed in their relationship, which had been at best, lukewarm. Tom was crazy about her and she knew it.
During their infrequent dates after the attack he questioned her repeatedly about her missing ten days, but she was charmingly evasive and changed the subject. Tom had no idea what to think.
“I’ll walk you up,” he said when they reached her apartment building. Perhaps a glass or two of brandy would thaw her a bit, he thought.
“No, that’s all right” was her reply.
“No, no, no,” I’ll walk you up”, he insisted.
What we have here, Catherine mused, is a failure to communicate. He never hears anything I say. She gave him a rather perfunctory sexless good night kiss.
Grabbing her arm roughly, he persisted. “I’m not going to let you slip away. I’m not going to let that happen”. Since his bold kiss demanded more than Catherine was willing to give, she pulled away with a stern look, “Good night, Tom.”
“Frigid bitch,” muttered Tom as he turned away and he began to wonder if Catherine had been raped the night of the attack. They had not slept together since that April night, and he longed for their prior intimacy. Yes, something had changed and Tom was damned if he knew what it was His thoughts shifted to the day they had first met. It was pouring in the city and every New Yorker knows it is just about impossible to get a cab when it rains. He had a corporate meeting at Chandler and Coolidge, so his only alternative was to take a bus cross town in order to keep the appointment. He was waiting at the bus stop when Catherine appeared. Her hair was streaming wet and as she walked she giggled at the squishing sounds her shoes were making on the pavement. Tom thought this water sprite was the loveliest creature he had ever seen. They rode the bus together until they reached Park Avenue and he was shocked to see Catherine in attendance at the meeting, but even more surprised to learn that she was Charles Chandler’s daughter.
Catherine agreed to see him because he was a client and in the beginning their dates were the usual ones… dinner at 21, theater, an occasional movie or sporting event, but Tom liked big parties. His ego was such that he dreamed big dreams and that meant having the requisite stunning female to share them. He wanted Catherine as his wife. Oh, he would have made an acceptable mate, she thought. He knew all the right people, had a seven figure income and bought her extravagant presents, but something was missing. She continued to see him because there was no one else in her life, until that April night which changed her completely.
Tonight was Tom’s feeble last attempt at wooing her. They had dinner in a romantic bistro. She politely told him that she couldn’t see him again. Her work was too demanding, she didn’t have time, the usual excuses, but Tom knew the real reason was there was someone else in her life. She was trying to let him down gently, but Tom was crushed.
As he kissed her one last time, it started to rain. He smiled bitterly as the lyrics of a sardonic show tune ran through his mind:
It’s raining memories;
memories of days when you and I were one.
Romance is just an empty fizzle.
In its grip I’m a drip in a dreary drizzle.
Raining memories on me.
He pulled the collar up on his trench coat to keep the rain from dripping down his neck as his eyes grew misty with tears. He knew she was lost to him forever. His shoulders drooped and his dejected demeanor was observed by the tall cloaked figure concealed in the alley nearby Catherine’s apartment building. The phantom figure heaved a sigh of hope. Dare he now dream that Catherine would be his alone? Clutching a copy of Great Expectations he began to make his way to Catherine’s balcony. The future was filled with possibilities as the rain shower suddenly ceased.