The Devil Is Beating His Wife Today
by Sandra McDonald
Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a sunny day, it began raining.
"The devil is beating his wife today," said my landlady as she swept.
It's an awful colloquialism, and I asked her about it. She explained it this way: the devil's mad about the glorious day, so he takes it out on his wife. Her tears pour down.
"You might ask yourself why the devil's wife would put up with that." The landlady's broom scratched the front hall floor. "But we shouldn't judge women trapped in bad marriages."
"I would never judge," I replied uneasily, and readied my umbrella to dash outside. "Why do her tears fall from the sky? Isn't hell below our feet?"
She shrugged. Her hands were wrinkled, her hair gray with age. "Geography doesn't work well here."
"I noticed," I said, even though I hadn't. The city around us is a waking dream. Hell below or hell above: it doesn't matter.
Although the precinct house is full of offices, desks, and holding cells, no one else seems to work here. The telephones never ring. Used coffee cups pile up on my desk, but I'm not sure they're all mine.
When I get back from lunch there's a typewritten complaint in my wire basket. It's a domestic violence report.
Goosebumps and foreboding keep me from going. Eventually the complaint disappears.