“We saw you out there,” said James.
“Out where,” asked Merrill.
“Standing on the sidewalk, during that big thunderstorm,” said James.
Merrill shifted in the hard plastic chair. He crossed his legs. James stared at him over the file jacket that seemed to hold every detail of Merrill’s life. The harsh florescent lights buzzed overhead. A water cooler gurgled in the corner of the beige colored room.
“I’m sorry. I’m not sure I know what you’re referring to,” said Merrill.
“The other night. We saw you. We know it was you. Standing there during the heaviest downpour, just getting rained on,” said James.
Merrill knew exactly what James was talking about but he shook his head.
“No. I’m just not sure about that.”
James put the file folder down and folded his hairy hands on the hard wooden desk. He considered Merrill for a moment. James was breathing heavily through his nose. The sound of his inhaling and exhaling seemed to rattle the small interview room. There was an odor to his breathing, something like plastic and garlic. It made Merrill very uncomfortable.
“We’re certain it was you. In fact, in your file here it says you have quiet the penchant for playing in the rain,” said James.
“Well, I mean, as a kid. Didn’t we all like to play in the rain,” asked Merrill.
“No,” said James.
Merrill smiled nervously. He cleared his throat as James picked the file folder up from the desk and started reading aloud.
“Thursday, 1:38 a.m., subject observed standing in the heavy rains. There is no discernable reason for the subject to stand in the rain. Subject is just standing, getting soaked through,” read James.
Merrill blushed. He didn’t think they’d be watching him then. He figured it was just a fluke. Why would they watch him so late? He was on his own time.
“Ok, it’s true. I was standing in the rain, just getting drenched,” said Merrill.
“Why,” asked James.
Merrill sighed and cleared his throat. The garlic plastic smell seemed worse, like someone was heating it up over a near-by stove.
“I wanted to see if I would melt,” said Merrill.
“Clearly you did not,” said James.
James resumed looking through Merrill’s file.
“Actually, I did melt a little,” said Merrill.
“What,” asked James.
“Well, I wanted to see if I would melt. I wondered if the heavy rain drops would fall hard enough to dissolve pieces of me. I wondered if the drumming of the rain all over my body would somehow reduce me to a little melty puddle of Merrill.”
“It didn’t though. We can see you’re right here,” said James.
Merrill uncrossed his legs, adjusted his dress pants and leaned forward toward James.
“But it did melt me. I was transformed into something very different. I was no longer just Merrill, but a mingling of everything that had ever made the rain. I was soaked through to my skin and I felt the weight of the whole world. I felt it pushing me down, changing me, and sculpting me into something, someone, completely different than the person I woke up as. I wept in the rain. My tears mixed with the waters of the world. I was melted and re-formed,” said Merrill.
James looked at the ticking clock on the wall over Merrill’s head. Merrill sat forward, pressing his forearms against the edges of the desk. There was a knock on the door.
“Excuse me,” said James and he rose to his feet. He fixed his suit jacket and moved toward the door. He cracked the door open and he received a note. James opened the folded letter and read it to himself. He looked at Merrill and then re-folded the note and returned it to the mysterious messenger. He cleared his throat and brushed his thinning hair back. He stepped back to his chair and closed Merrill’s file jacket.
“So you melted,” said James.
“Yes,” replied Merrill.
The water cooler gurgled again. The aroma of garlic and hot plastic started to refill the small room.
“I think we’re done here. We’ll be in touch,” said James.
“Well, thank you for your time,” said Merrill.
Merrill stood up and headed for the interview room door. He opened it and stepped into the hallway outside. He headed for the entrance and noticed how gloomy the sky overhead looked. It looked like rain.