I was with some others. They remained misty and uncertain, voices on the periphery of my awareness.
We were to drive three identical Cadillac automobiles. Cream and brown two-toned sedans, I knew them as late 1940s cars, a model called ‘Sedan de Ville’. I was to be the driver of one of these three large cars.
Sheets of silvery rain were soaking the world outside the building where we talked, striking down visibility whenever I looked out a window. I knew we were in a city. We were addressing a large, electronic map. It showed the route to follow in thick dark green on a yellow background. Part of the discussion was about what to call our exits. Studying the map, I somehow came up with Jo Three, which struck me as funny. I explained why it should be called that and why it was funny but those details are lost to waking me.
Before leaving, white brunette women dressed in 1950s fashion presented each driver with two loaves of freshly baked warm bread. These loaves were set on the back shelf behind the rear seat, on on each side, in all three cars. I happily went about, checking the loaves, verifying what they were (rye, marble rye, whole wheat, etc.), and that each loaf was unique. Satisfied, I confirmed my loaves were where they should be, climbed behind the car’s massive steering wheel, and set off.
Rain still hammered the streets and sidewalks, denuding color so that everything resembled sepia photographs. With no wind, the rain fell straight down. Although it was day, street lights were on. The straight multi-lane roads were in good condition. Traffic was sparse. The place seemed familiar.
I saw a woman walking along a sidewalk under an umbrella. I knew her. I thought she was upset and decided that I needed to speak with her, and that I would offer her a ride. As I caught up with her, she was under an underpass at an intersection, waiting to cross the street. She crossed; I turned left, pulled alongside her, and wound the passenger window down. As she didn’t stop, the car continued parallel to her, propelled by the idling motor.
Leaning across the street, cold as mist came in the open window, I called, asking her if she wanted a ride, speaking loudly over the rain and the car’s engine. She declined, telling me that she enjoyed walking in the rain. I then apologized to her and told her that I understood why she was upset. She replied that she wasn’t upset, and that’s not why she wasn’t accepting a ride. She had been upset but now she just appreciated being alone, walking in the rain.
I accepted her answer and drove off. As I did, I looked back in the rearview mirror and watched her walking on the sidewalk in the pouring rain, getting smaller as the distance increased.