It rains every day in August here. Every. single. day. When the sky darkens and I look up and say, “It looks like it is going to rain”, there is always someone nearby who will say something like, “Yes o, it must be August.” Because to them, that response answers everything.
It is even more amusing to me, that once it starts raining, no one goes anywhere. In spite of the fact that it is August and everyone expects it to rain, once it actually starts raining, there is a community wide paralysis. If you, against your better judgement, decide to go out, you will find it impossible to get anywhere or do anything. Taxis will not stop for you, people will not show up to work, even the people who are already at work will stop whatever they are doing and throw their hands up in resignation as soon as it starts raining. It is like ‘The Mist’ has settled over town.
Last week, I had to run a few errands at lunch time and on my way back to work, it started raining. It wasn’t even fully August yet. I ducked into a row of connected shops, bought some stationery and waited, watching the rain. I noticed that the building next to the shops was a two-storey building with a shaded balcony and I thought I would get a good view of the town from upstairs.
I dashed through the rain to the next building, looked for the stairs and went up. On the second floor, I realised I couldn’t get out onto the balcony, but I could still look outside through some slits in the wall. I was standing there looking out until a man came up the stairs behind me.
“Are you from here?”
“No, I was buying something downstairs then it started raining.”
“Why didn’t you wait downstairs?”
He is still being friendly, or at least neutral, so I reply him naturally, “I wanted to see the whole town from upstairs. I like taking landscape pictures.”
“You’re taking pictures of us?!”
“No, I am not taking pictures. I don’t have my camera, but I like taking pictures. And it is not pictures of your place, it is pictures of the town in the rain.”
“Do you know that it is wrong to take pictures?”
Still being relaxed, when he says this, I laugh loudly. The expression on his face changes to anger and he raises his hand, open palm, to slap me.
I back up, shocked and my eyes widened.
*cue dramatic music*
I probably cannot fight, but I am an opportunist. I am the kind of person that at the first sign of danger, I do a cursory scan of my surroundings for things that can be converted into weapons.
Immediately he raised his hand to hit me, I looked around, saw the stairs behind him and came up with a basic plan: I would push him down them. I wouldn’t bother to deflect the slap. I would even puff my cheeks up so that when his palm hits my face, it would make that ‘pfff’ sound as the air is expelled from my cheek. And when that happens, I would shove him. Not particularly hard, just enough to send him tumbling down two flights of concrete stairs.
He was in his late 40s, balding with grey stubble in his beard and a few missing teeth. But in my mind, he was already dead, his body lying broken at the bottom of the stairs and I was running down to kick his corpse.
In real time, his hand was still cocked back to hit me, but he hadn’t struck me yet. Meaning he was no longer trying to hit me, but he was still threatening me with a slap… like I was a child.
I remembered some advice I had gotten about getting into fights, “Always respond to aggression with even more aggression. The first person to back down loses the fight. If there is a bottle around, break it on your head so they know you mean business.”
I took my glasses off, stuffed them into my bag and started shouting at him.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? YOU WANT TO SLAP ME?!”
He started to argue about his rights. I am in his building and he doesn’t know who I am so he has the right to slap me if he wants. He hasn’t realised that we are just two strangers in a dark stairway and I am already thinking about beating him up, building owner or not.
“I will call the police.”
“ok, follow me to the police station.”
“I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE. GO AND BRING THEM AND THEN YOU WILL SEE!”
There is no way the police will come out in the rain. He knows that and I do too.
Realising now that we are alone and things are escalating, he walks down the corridor into one of the rooms and comes back out with another employee. He starts explaining to the new employee who tries to mediate. His recollection of events is flawed, at best. He said he came in and saw me there, I was taking pictures and I refused to leave and…
“Ah ah ah” I interrupt, “you never asked me to leave. And I wasn’t taking any pictures. Search my bag, I don’t have a camera.”
All of a sudden, he is a legal expert, “I can’t search your bag. Only the police can check your bag.”
“BUT YOU WERE GOING TO SLAP ME! How can you say you have the right to slap me but not check my bag?”
The new employee asks me to leave.
I huff, “Finally! You just had to tell me to go.” And I start to leave, but my rival isn’t done yet. He still has a few points to make.
I put on an American accent and shout at him some more, kicking his arguments down like a house made of matchsticks.
When he is sufficiently cowed, I storm off into the rain, on my own terms.