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Not the rain!
  Andrew packed his bag at the end of his AA meeting at a local church. The day started sunny and warm. Now, pea-sized drops of water pounded the roof, full clouds turned the streets dark. He zipped up his jacket to his chin and held his backpack over his head walking out toward the bus stop. He was new to the area and unprepared for the Seattle rainfalls.
  "Hey, you need a ride?" Vince shouted across the parking lot.
  Andrew turned his head toward the sound, Vince waved him over. The backpack umbrella proved useless against the horizontal rain. His jeans worked as a sponge, absorbing the rain.
  "I'm OK. The bus will be here soon." He wiped his face.
  "Dude c'mon," Vince yelled from inside his car.
  He wanted out of the rain, but hated being a burden to others. He never needed an umbrella when he lived in Arizona. He looked down the street for any sight of the bus, then back at Vince. He pumped his feet down to push water out the side of his shoes, then ran towards the car.
  It was an older Ford Focus, dark gray, appearing clean under the Seattle wash. The smell of old McDonald's french fries hit him as opened the door. Various wrappers and papers ruffled on the floor as he positioned his feet. He pulled a small pink bag from his backside and set it down on the swamp of papers. He hugged his backpack tight to his chest.
  "Andy, right?" said Vince.
  "Yes." Andrew nodded his head.
  "Welcome. Sucks to have your first night end like this. Where you headed?"
  Andrew replied then pulled his backpack closer to his chin. He pulled his head back as he witnessed the ultimate car interior sin. Smeared handprints covered the inside passenger window. Well, I guess this bets standing in the rain.
  "6 months now? Is that right?" asked Vince.
  Andrew turned to face him. The dashboard "check engine" light was on, the clock was off by an hour. From the corner of his eyes, he saw the back seats being used as a dresser.
  "Uh yeah, 6 months."
  "Well good for you. I've been sober ten years now, and have only missed one meeting. These guys are great. You'll see."
  "Yeah, everyone seems real nice." Before Andrew's car accident, he always left his car spotless, and couldn't stand dirty ones. Nothing stayed in the car that didn't belong there. Everything has a home, he always thought.
  "I'm an engineer over at Boeing. What about you?" asked Vince.
  An engineer? Boeing? No wonder those planes crashed. "You know those clothes in the back seat are a real theft attraction," said Andrew.
  Vince looked into the rear-view mirror and shrugged. "I don't think anybody wants those old clothes."
  "It's not the clothes. It's what's underneath that the thief wants to find out. It's what can't be seen."
  "I suppose. Haven't really thought anything of it."
  Andrew was grateful for the ride and the opportunity to meet new people, but resisted engaging into deeper conversation with Vince. He wondered what his house looked like, his office at work. Andrew won Seahawks tickets and considered inviting Vince to the game.
  "So what are you doing this Sunday?" Andrew asked.
  "Cutting the grass. What's up?"
  The center console overflowed with ketchup and hot sauce packets. An empty Christmas Starbucks cup sat in the drink tray.
  "Oh, I just might need another ride," said Andrew.
  This guy must be bankrupt. Why is an engineer driving such an old and modest car?
  "So are you in tech?" asked Vince.
  "Oh. No. I do HVAC maintenance."
  Andrew laughed inside as the car passed a Brown Bear car wash.
  "There." Andrew pointed. "You can just drop me off in front of the fountain."
  "Hello?" Vince answered his cell phone. "Yes, yes. I'm on my way. Just had to make a quick stop."
  The rain stopped. Andrew opened the door and took in a big whiff of fresh air. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was in full view. He wiped a chicken nugget that had stuck to the back of his pants.
  "Welcome to Seattle weather," said Vince.
  "Thanks for the ride. I hope I didn't hold you up." He flung his backpack on and shook his legs enjoying his freedom. Andrew re-considered inviting Vince to the game, but decided the two of them likely wouldn't make compatible friends.
  "That's OK. It's just my daughter. She needs her car back, mine is in the shop."


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