The ominous black cloud hanging below the main body of ominous black clouds loitering over Boulder offered ample reason to return home to Arvada. However, I was researching a story that required checking out a long-running poetry reading, so I persevered.
The hail started falling halfway up the hill on U.S. 36, on top of which sits a scenic overlook where tourists stop to take selfies with the Flatirons.
The rain fell so thick that visibility ticked down to zero. I pulled over with a dozen other motorists. As falling hailstones increased in size from peas to Brazil nuts to walnuts, I found myself with palms pressed against the pulsing windshield that was on the verge of breaking. Some douche pulled up to my tailgate in an effort to shield his Subaru from damage. I drove forward periodically. He followed.
The sun, bearing a smiley face like a child’s drawing, strained against the monster clouds and pushed out the last of the hail. I juggled fear and exhilaration for 15 minutes before the storm cleared and I drove on.
Once in Boulder, I pulled into my secret free parking space. A blue heeler sitting between a hippy’s legs on a motorcycle leapt off to chase a woman walking up the street dressed in a bee costume. The apologetic hippy chased his dog.
I had written down the address of the poetry reading but ingeniously lost it so it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. Relying on Google, I located the venue, only to find open-mic music, a confused barista and no poetry reading.
Another place sprang to mind, so I returned to my truck — which I now noticed had $500 of hail damage — and drove to the next spot. At least 100 people were visible through large bay windows. I parked, strolled back and came to the swift conclusion that this was no poetry reading but a 12-step meeting.
I muttered a curse word and lumbered to the truck, the headlights of which were on, the keys still in the ignition and, of course, the doors locked. Just then, a fox emerged from around the corner, calmly looked both ways and crossed Pearl Street.
I called my mom and conveyed — some might say whined — the events of the evening thus far.
“And I just saw a fox,” I said. “So that’s an omen. I’m probably going to get shot or something. Or was it a coyote?”
“Tell everyone it’s a fox,” my mom replied. “It makes for a better story.”
A kind coworker brought my extra key, and I retrieved the address of the poetry reading by actually looking at more than one Google search result. I could have gone home, but that would mean acquiescing to defeat. I soldiered on to the poetry reading, which was held in the attic of an A-frame church. I listened to five poets and drove back to Arvada in the eerie darkness of Colo. 93. The storm had moved east, and the distant lighting looked like fireflies.