The Men Who Chase Storms [story] by Daniel Romo

They flew kites in the rain and dared lightning to strike. Small hands wielding string like daredevil virtuosos. Children who taunted the sky as if their parents would approve. They began as boys who required more than the rush of marbles colliding; never content with the surge of toilet-papering the town. Their parents were cloudless-blue-sky-sunny disposition. But the boys resembled approaching ominous fronts flooding the horizon. A family tree whose lineage branched off into unsteady currents with a thirst for calamity. Their genes carried traits of excess backbone and adventure. Their nerves were a wash of adrenaline and bumpy weather.

In their teens they snuck out on Saturday nights. Not for the taste of beer on their breaths, but for traces of hail grazing their faces. They followed tornadoes like stalking lost loves. Maps in hand to navigate next moves. Their parents were concerned, and hoped it was a phase. Temporary interest in frenetic weather vanes. But they were constant no-shows in football bleachers and school dances. Instead, front-row observers to whirlwind romances. They can’t recall awkward first kisses, but clearly remember the first time they witnessed a barn ripped apart by the wind.

The men who chase storms blossomed into hopeless romantics, and then married meteorology: a legal devotion of their lives to danger. The family that chases together, stays together. They have found security in insecurity. They are the man of the house who sits at the kitchen table, reads the morning paper, and stares out the window with longing, hurricane eyes.

 

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Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

– refers from “storm” in the story Children of Suicides by Lucinda Kempe

Daniel Romo’s photography and poems appear in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, Yemassee, Word Riot, and elsewhere. His books of prose poems, When Kerosene’s Involved, can be found here. His blog, Box Scores and Luchadores, can be found here. He bats leadoff and plays shortstop for the Long Beach Barons.

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