"Excuse me," I ducked under the bus stop. "You do know the bus doesn't run this late, right?"
The girl standing there turned to look at me. She was wearing a bright yellow raincoat with equally bright purple galoshes, and kept her umbrella open despite having the bus stop's roof to keep her dry.
"Really?" She tried to check her watch, but didn't seem to have that much luck in pulling her sleeve back with the giant plastic bag in her hand and the giant purple umbrella in her other. I checked mine for her.
"Not down here, at least. The closest line still running is over on Fifth and Market." I took a second to warm my hands. "That's like a good thirty minute walk."
It was really coming down. It'd been raining for three days now, and it didn't look like it was going to let up any time soon.
"In this weather?" She made a face that looked like she was thinking extra hard, but didn't really like the fact that she had to.
"Did you need to get somewhere?" I asked.
"Just home," she said. "Not that I have to, I mean, it's just that it'd be nicer than standing out here."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," I said. "I'm parked in the structure over at the LV, did you need a ride?"
"My mommy said to never ride with strangers."
I looked at her for a second. I knew she was joking, but I couldn't think of a witty reply to that.
"Unless you had some candy to give me if I helped you find your lost dog," she laughed.
Yeah, that'd work.
She leaned out of the bus stop and looked down the street, just to make sure the bus really wasn't coming. The rain caught her umbrella as soon as it left cover. It looked like it caught her off-guard for a second before she could hold on tighter. She shuffled her feet to find to balance, then turned to me.
"So, you coming, or do I have to find your car for you?"
"I dunno," I said. "I don't have the cash to pay tip."
She looked at me for a second. I don't know if the joke was too opaque, or if she was just stuck in the same situation I was.
"Like you're a valet," I said.
"Oh!" She half-laughed. Mostly out of politeness.
"It's...sorry," I decided to admire the metalwork on the bench instead. I don't think I've ever seen anybody sit down on this. Probably because it'd collapse under the weight of any decently sized human being. "That was a terrible joke."
"Well, it wasn't that terrible," she said. "What are you, the Terrible Joke police?"
"Hands up, you're under arrest" she said, pointing her imaginary gun at me. "TJPD."
I looked at her until she stopped pointing at me.
"See? That's a terrible joke."
"That's not even a joke," I said, trying to find words that would work. "That's...that's just, you know. Not a joke."
"Exactly," she said. "Terrible."
"I mean, you could've said, I don't know, that I'm not the PR guy for Terrible Joke Inc," I said. "That'd make a little more sense."
"Yeah, but then it wouldn't be such a terrible joke, would it?"
I was about to agree with a, "Sure, I guess," or something when she cut me off.
"So are we going?" She held her umbrella out for me.
"I'm fine," I said. "It's just water."
"What about your bag?"
"What about yours?"
"It can fit. See?" She demonstrated her uncanny ability to keep her arm under an umbrella. And her twice as uncanny ability to make everything I said sound stupid.
"You've got a laptop in there, right?" She pointed. "Nobody's backpack has a bulge like that unless they're carrying a laptop."
"A laptop and some very expensive textbooks, yes."
"And you walked this far without an umbrella?"
"I was walking fast," I said. I tried to shrug it off, but it seemed hard to do with a girl half my size lecturing me.
"What, so you can dodge rain? I'm a black belt in judo and even I can't dodge rain," she said. She didn't look the part.
"See, there's your problem," I said. "You should've studied wu shu."
She laughed. "So are you coming or not?"
"Maybe you should just let me hold the umbrella," I said. It came up to about my eyes.
"What, and risk you stealing it? Not happening."
"No, look," I said. "It comes up to my eyes. I'm not going to be-"
She raised her arm as high as it would go, half-pouting so I would notice how much effort that took. No point in arguing. We started walking.
"What are you doing out here so late anyway?"
"Killing a few dudes," she said. "I'm a hitman. You?"
"Something a lot less exciting than that," I said. I figured it was better to come up with an answer on time than to come up with a witty reply ten seconds later. Especially only to figure out that your reply was less witty and more mind-numbingly stupid instead.
"Oh, come on. I'm sure it was something cool."
"Why do you care?"
She didn't respond for a second. "Nevermind, jeez. Don't be so defensive."
"Sorry," I muttered. "I didn't mean it like that. It just came out that way, you know?"
"Uh-huh," she said.
Aaaaaaaand I just managed to kill another conversation. Amazing. I think I deserve an award for this one. I had to try pretty hard to do that. Any answer at all would've sufficed. Even the truth. Especially the truth. It's not like there's anything to be ashamed of about staying late to finish a paper.
"You don't live near campus?" She asked.
"Can't afford it," I said. I wondered if I should elaborate.
She didn't say anything. We walked.
"Uh, I like your raincoat," I said. That didn't sound creepy or anything.
"Really?" She almost ended up stabbing me in the eye with the little pointy bits on the end of her umbrella as she spun around. Fortunately, fifteen years of wu shu training gave me the super-human reflexes needed to block it with my face. Why is the under side of an umbrella wet? "Oh, god! Sorry! Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," I said. "Fortunately, fifteen years of wu shu training gave me the super-human reflexes needed to block that with my face." It was such a good line I had to use it twice.
"Aw, I'm sorry, Sensei," she laughed. "Here, lemme wipe that off for you." She didn't manage to do very well with the bag in her hand. I stooped over for her anyway.
"Anyway," she said. "I got this when I visited Seoul last March. Do you know how much it rains over there?"
"Not really," I said.
"It rains like, every day. Like, every single day. And it never rains here, right? So I didn't have any clothes for that, so I figure, 'Hey, I'll go down to that little shop downstairs and buy an umbrella.' And then next thing I know I'm walking back upstairs with this whole outfit."
"Yeah, and you know what the best part is? It stopped raining the next day. It didn't rain again the whole time I was there. I've been holding onto this and just waiting for it to rain. So I've pretty much just worn this for the last three days. I mean, like, this morning, I was like, 'I'm wearing this again? People are going to think I'm gross or something and wear the same things everyday,' but then I figure, 'Hey, nobody sees me twice a week anyway. And it's not like I'm wearing the same clothes underneath.' You get a free pass for wearing the same jacket a couple times in a row, right?"
"Uh, I guess."
"I'm totally not wearing the same thing underneath," she said, just to make sure I got that.
I sorta laughed. Mostly because I didn't have any idea what to say to that.
"It stopped raining."
We stopped for a second to watch the rain let up.
"I can see the stars."