It began, as adventures often do, on a regular day with normal weather. It was a Tuesday, I think, and the weather was damp and cold. Great low-hanging clouds drifted up the mountain from the ocean and ripped their bellies open on the cliffs and trees that surrounded our little community of Sunova Beach.
I was walking up the hill to the post office that morning, hoping against hope that a long-awaited check would be there for me. It was already spent, of course, but I was still entertaining fantasies about what I would do with the money. I was passing Hoohocker’s General Store when Hiram Hoohocker opened the door and intercepted me.
“Mornin’ Beamish,” he said.
“Hiram,” I nodded.
He looked up and noticed a particularly eager cloud, eager in the sense that it wasn’t going to make it far up the mountain before impaling itself on the forest.
“Looks like we’ll be awash in cloud blood before too long,” he commented philosophically.
I sighed inwardly and turned to follow his gaze. One of the troubles with being a writer is that people can take a phrase you’ve committed to print and mercilessly beat you over the head with it for years. Hiram meant well. I don’t think he was even aware that he had been saying much the same thing to me most every day for the last six years. It was a little too late to nip it in the bud, so to speak, but this morning I was going to give it a try.
I studied the cloud for a moment.
“No,” I finally said, “I don’t think so.”
“No?” Hiram asked. He was a bit confused. I’d never picked up the conversation like this before.
“No,” I restated emphatically. “I think, instead of ‘cloud blood,’ we’ll be hit with some cloud plasma, or maybe cloud earwax.”
I snuck a glance at Hiram, whose face was beginning to twist nicely.
“Lord knows we’ve had enough cloud urine, lately, so I hope it’s not that,” I continued reasonably.
Hiram was beginning to catch on. He moved closer to me, cupped his hand conspiratorially and said “cloud snot, maybe?”
I nodded approvingly. “Maybe,” I said.
Hiram was delighted. He lit up like a salesman’s vest. I could’ve warmed my hands in his glow. I began to edge past him, hearing my check at the post office beginning to call again. I told him I’d drop back by for a cup of his infamous coffee as soon as I finished at my mailbox. I left him mumbling contentedly. I’m glad we were the only folks on the street that morning because anyone happening by might have become alarmed had they heard Hiram reciting a litany of body fluids.