The rain rushed urgently down the windscreen as the officers sat watching the tatty red door. It had rained all afternoon, but had really began to pour after ten, when the sky had darkened even further and opened itself freely onto the town. They had been there a few minutes, and small talk dispensed with, both sensed boredom creeping in.
“So who’s going to sleep first?” asked the passenger.
“You can. If it keeps raining like this we won’t see them for hours.”
“And You promise you’ll tell no one about tonight?”
“This won’t happen without ripples…”
“It needs doing,” he said, resting his head on the window, beginning to gaze inanely at the small eruptions from the puddles as they were battered by the heavy drops.
He could sense that the water was pooling on the roof of the bin. It did this each time it rained, but his fix of a rag covered daily with the previous day’s newspapers had kept him dry thus far.
“I hope it doesn’t give tonight.”He thought. “I really can’t be bothered with the walk to find another shelter, and besides, with all the bags taken out, it’s alright in here.”
But alas a drop fell, which then became a series of staccato drips, and eventually a steady flow of cool autumn rain.
The water was beginning to rise from the drain outside the restaurant.
“Thank goodness we live where we do!” said the gentleman, trying his hardest to keep the uncomfortable damp off of her with his coat. He was soaked in seconds as the heavenly deluge continued. The two of them dashed along the streets, tripping in the swampy pools which had engulfed the gutters and pavements.
“This is silly, darling,” she said, panting hungrily. “It can’t rain forever. Let’s shelter a moment.”
She dragged him across the road and onto an invitingly dry doorstep where they watched the spate continue.
The ruction on the plastic was noisy, and now he was sodden. he was no better here than he would be anywhere else, and so he decided to lift the heavy lid and climb from the bin. He shook his hair off, and spotted a couple across the street hiding in a doorway. His first suggestion was struck from the list, and he trudged sullenly away.
“Oh goodness, darling. Let’s get moving again. That’s left me quite spooked!”
“Yes. It has me too. What a ghostly figure! Looked a little like McKenzie…”
“Oh shush darling! Put that nonsense out of your mind.”
They dashed on in the streetlight, now cold to the bone from tackling the downpour.
“It’s no good dear! The rain’s too heavy in my suit. I must have doubled in weight in the last five minutes. Let’s stop again.”
They once again tucked themselves under a brick arch and clutched each other tightly for warmth.
“We should have got a taxi.”
“True” came the stammered reply.
Suddenly there was a sound behind them. The door was unlocking. They looked nervously at each other, before turning to the rain and understanding that they would be able to explain their presence.
“Who are you?” the voice emerged from the shadows of the hallway inside. “Get out of here!”
“Please, mightn’t we stay a couple of minutes until the rain eases?”
“No! We have enough loiterers around here! Now go!”
The couple stepped down from the door as the figure turned to lock it, but as they did so their hearts raced on the approach of two other men. They brushed them aside before pinning the figure back against the red door.
“Get out of here.” whispered the officer to them. “You’re being watched. Leave town. Just never come back here!”
The couple put their heads down and dashed on under the low sky, passing several silhouetted figures as they went, the shadows taunting them all the way home.
The officers handed over the notes and climbed back into the car. The red door slammed.
The rain had stopped but the cold damp would stick to the city for perhaps the whole of the next day. Knowing that his bin would now be filled with icy water, the doorstep under the red door was chosen for refuge. The street was eerily quiet, and mirrored in the puddles and the darkened windows was a sense that something awful had happened that night. He had made a mistake, and he felt cold and guilty.