‘Good morning,’ said Andy, striding purposefully into the small pharmacy, straight in behind the counter.
‘What’s so good about it?’ said the young pharmacy assistant looking up from the magazine she was reading. ‘It’s raining’ she said but observed the sun blazing brightly outside. She stared, frowning ‘It was raining a minute ago.’
‘It’s only water,’ replied Andy casually as he lay the box that he was carrying on the floor.
The young girl studied Andy as he cheerfully went about his business, wondering about him. She hated people who were happy all the time; it was so unnatural.
Handing her a copy of the invoice, Andy wished her a good day and left.
She realised then that he was dry. How could he be completely dry when it had poured buckets of cold rain all morning? She was still shaking her head in disbelief when the telephone rang to distract her.
Singing to himself, Andy climbed back into his truck and headed off down the road to his next customer. He wondered why people always complained about the rainy weather. What was so bad about it? Praise God for all the weather, thought Andy. Even windy days, although he really didn’t like them. Andy was truly thankful to be alive.
Suddenly noticing rain ahead, he instinctively slowed down but never reached it. It was always just there, a few blocks away while the sun continued to beam down happily upon him.
When he arrived at Allandale general store, he jumped out, looked back to the north, surprised to see the sky black and threatening. Turning quickly to look ahead, he saw rain. Also, to the east and the west, maybe a mile away, was more bad weather.
‘That’s really weird,’ said Andy as he stood in a circle of dry ground under a clear sky like an actor bathed in a spotlight on an otherwise dark stage.
He opened the back of his truck, found the right carton, then picked it up and carried it inside.
‘Good morning, Janine.’
‘Good morning, Andy. You’ve done well to stay dry in this weather.’
‘Yeah,’ said Andy. ‘It’s one of those freak days when it’s only raining in some places.’
After setting the box down and giving Janine the invoice, he left, leaving her to stare out the storefront window. The rain returned as Andy drove away.
Andy’s thoughts turned to Sunday morning worship when he would be leading the congregation for the first time. Excited and nervous all at once, he began to sing one of the songs the band had practiced; Shout to the Lord was a real favourite of his.
Although this helped him ignore the unusual climatic conditions for a while, when Andy climbed out of his truck at Greta, he looked around again to check if the weather was still favouring him. Laughing to himself at the very idea the weather could favour him, he was nonetheless a little unnerved to note the beam of sunshine in which he was standing seemed slightly narrower. He began to think of it as God’s flashlight beam.
Oblivious to any fear he perhaps should have felt, Andy kept on singing as he retrieved another parcel from his truck and entered the store. The storekeeper was visibly perplexed.
‘Nice of you to bring the sunshine with you, Andy.’
Andy turned to see the outside of the store bathed in glorious sunshine. Smiling at the old storekeeper, he struggled to think of what to say. He had heard that saying before, but it was a joke, wasn’t it? Nobody had ever really taken the weather with them. He thought of the Crowded House song, ‘Always take the weather with you’ and his face went white.
‘You all right there, son?’
‘It was raining just before I arrived, wasn’t it? And it’s been raining all morning, right?’
The old man nodded long enough to answer yes to both questions, then said, ‘So?’
Andy felt more than butterflies in his stomach as he said slowly, ‘I actually did bring the sunshine with me.’
Ordinarily, the old storekeeper would have ridiculed such a suggestion, but Andy spoke with such conviction, he was speechless.
Andy led him outside, pointed out the foreboding skies, blackened by rain saturated clouds in all four directions. The old man made himself dizzy as he spun around in God’s flashlight beam marveling at the phenomenon.
‘Well, I’ll be…’ he said, dumbfounded.
‘I gotta go,’ said Andy as if nothing unusual was happening. ‘I’ve got work to do.’
The old man quickly shuffled inside, but not before another look at the sky which again closed in, beginning to spit heavy droplets of rain onto the dry ground. He telephoned a friend while watching through the window as the heavens unleashed their payload. Andy was long gone.
There was no denying what was happening to him, but Andy could not figure out why. Perhaps Theng, his friend at Clancy’s corner store could help him.
Theng cocked his head, listening to Andy’s amazing tale. He smiled a wise, thoughtful smile and said, ‘They say the sun always shines on the grateful heart.’
‘I do have a lot to thank God for. There’s lots of good things in my life and good people...and you know I was clinically dead on the operating table after my car accident last year.’
Theng nodded, and Andy repeated himself, ‘I was dead.’
‘Just enjoy your life’ said Theng. ‘Enjoy every moment!’
Again, at peace Andy continued on his merry way until his cell phone rang, forcing him to pull over to take the call. It was a reporter from the local newspaper, who wanted to meet Andy, to talk about the weather, and take his photograph. That sounded okay to Andy so he told the man where he was heading and gave him a rough idea of when he would be there.
When he arrived, the reporter was already waiting for him along with a photographer. Andy explained he was on a tight schedule so he would need to keep working as they talked, which was okay by the reporter. After answering a few questions and dutifully posing for a photograph, Andy apologised again for having to rush.
The next day, Andy’s cell phone rang almost non-stop, so he let the calls go through to message bank. Everyone wanted to talk to him. Newspaper people, magazine reporters, television journalists, his friends, his customers. It was beginning to overwhelm him but whenever he felt the slightest trace of annoyance or ungratefulness rising in him, Andy was able to beat it down with a soulful rendition of a gospel chorus or two, as the sun continued to blanket him with generous, ambient warmth.
Approaching Rutherford mall, Andy was shocked to find the road closed by police. He had to stop a block away and walk down to the store but before he could get close, he was swamped by a mass of people who had miraculously obtained his cell phone number and discovered his delivery route. It was an ambush.
Nothing made sense to Andy’s ears as they shouted their names, who they represented and their questions. It was a garble, a cacophony; like being trapped in a small room with a flock of squawking parrots.
Soon the police arrived, managed to push back the crowd, and create some space for Andy, just as his fear turned to anger at the unruly mob who pounced on him. He tried to fight it but these people, this group of strangers were threatening him, so he let his rage overflow and he began to curse them all, telling them to leave him alone.
The crowd fell quiet as Andy yelled and swore at them. They gasped as the sky darkened. Andy raved, forcing the police to move in to restrain him. A loud bang of a thunderclap preceded a torrential downpour which soaked them all to the skin in two minutes.
Washing away his anger, the rain began to ease in unison with Andy’s recovery. Assuring the police that he was okay now, he asked them to release him, then addressed the crowd.
‘I’m sorry for behaving that way,’ he said. ‘I was frightened, and I lost my temper. I am willing to talk to you all but only if we can do it in a civilised way.’ Surprised by his boldness, Andy looked around at the faces in the crowd, searching for their consent. Their silence was a good enough answer.
Andy responded to their questions, and in doing so he frequently mentioned his faith in God who had given him a second chance at life. His words were broadcast far and wide while the sun shone brighter than ever.