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 May Challenge: "It Never Rains That It Pours"

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Posts : 23
Join date : 2013-10-26
Age : 60

PostMay Challenge: "It Never Rains That It Pours"

“It Never Rains That It Pours”* **
(aka) “Fifty Ways to Weather the Weather”

Treating myself recently to one of my favorite movies, “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” a scene that I enjoy very much came on: the one where Butch is riding the bicycle, with Etta on the handlebars. In the background, you hear a song playing, “Raindrops Keep Falling On my Head.” I started to think about it and realized that there's not a drop of rain in that scene at all. Yet the song worked. Further thinking on my part sent me in the direction of this month's challenge title and I decided to have a bit of fun with it.

My favorite part of writing is the research; the “behind-the-scenes” stuff; the whys and what-fors. The challenge for me here was to incorporate song titles and rain-related words and weave them into a story. See how many are familiar to you. Don't know one? Songs and terms are numbered, but I didn't want to take up room here with them, so you won't find the footnotes below. I'll add a link to them after I post it. (You can find them on our home page under moonshadow's monthly challenges.)


* The expression may have come from either a book by Queen Anne's physician, John Arbuthnot, or an article by Jonathan Swift, both entitled "It Cannot Rain But It Pours," both published in 1726.
** Proverb: “Good (or bad) things do not just happen a few at a time, but in large numbers all at once.”


Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were in front of their hotel, seated next to each other on a bench that faced the street. Sprawled out and slouched down in boredom, they stared with vacant eyes through an incessant curtain of pouring water at the building that sat straight across the street from them: the saloon. The building stared back, as if mocking them. On any other normal day, the pair would be inside that building. But not today. Not yesterday. And not the day before.

“You'd think a town with a name like Dry Gulch would at least have something dry in it somewhere!” Curry groused. “There hasn't been a day without rain(1) since we got here!”

“Uh, huh,” Heyes nodded in agreement and fell silent.

In unison, they heaved deep sighs of resignation and resumed staring.

All around them, the neverending storm raged. From a sky the color of cigar ash, dark thunderclouds rumbled, treating spectators to one light show after another as flashes of lighting streaked across the horizon. The torrential rain fell, hammering everything in its path with a relentless vengeance.

“It's really not that far,” Curry speculated. “Wanna flip a coin?”

“Nope,” Heyes answered. “This is one toss I don't want to win.”

Curry turned to eye his partner.

Occasionally, if they were lucky, someone brave enough to weather the deluge would pass by, sometimes even stopping to exchange a word or two with the strangers. Heyes and Kid listened for the squishing sounds the soggy boots and shoes made as they traversed the boardwalk. In an effort to alleviate some of the boredom that had set in, the two men made bets on the walker's identity.

Not one foot was squishing so far today.

“We could go eat,” Curry suggested.

“It's only been an hour since breakfast, Kid.”

“Oh,” Curry muttered dejectedly. Crestfallen, he slouched back down on the bench.

“You hungry?” Heyes asked, then held up a hand and chuckled. “Nevermind, I know the answer.”

Kid ignored him.

A companionable silence fell upon them as they watched the rainstorm continue to wreck havoc on the town. The incessant stream of muddy water that flowed past them had a mesmerizing effect and added to the monotony. Their eyes followed a woven basket as it floated by. Buffeted about by the storm, it bobbed and spun around. It also broke the silent spell.

“You wanna play another game of checkers?” Kid ventured.


“A couple hands of blackjack?”


Curry sighed and lapsed into another silence. All of a sudden, the corners of his mouth curved up and a mischievous glint appeared in his curry-blue eyes. “Wanna go fishin'?”

The look was in full force when Heyes turned his head slowly to face his partner.

“There's plenty of water,” Curry shrugged. “Might be fish out there.”

A derisive snort was Heyes' only reply.

A tad on the defensive, Curry countered, “Aren't you the one always tellin' me to look on the bright side of things?”

“When there IS a bright side!” Heyes retorted with a roll of his eyes skyward.

A child's lilting voice coming from a window next door to the hotel forestalled any further comment. “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day, little Sally wants to play, so rain, rain go away...”(2)

“MY song's better'n yours, Sally!” boasted a young boy's voice and then he began to sing. “It's rainin', it's pourin', the old man is snorin'. He went to bed an' bumped his head an' didn't wake up 'til mornin'.”(3)

“MY song's better – it has MY name in it! Rain, rain, go away -”

“No it's not – It's rainin', it's pourin' -”

“... come again some other day -”

“BOTH songs are wonderful,” a diplomatic female voice intervened. “Who wants to help me make cookies?” After cheers of affirmation, a peaceful silence prevailed once again.

“Cookies?” Curry repeated, an optimistic look in his eyes as he glanced quickly at the cafe. “Maybe it's time for dinner?” he suggested hopefully.

“It's only been fifteen minutes since you last asked,” Heyes shook his head.

Curry fell back against the bench with a resigned sigh.

A series of squishes broke into their boredom and heralded the arrival of a new distraction.

Curry cocked his head. “Bet it's that drummer, Mike. Wonder what he'll try to sell us this time?”

“More cure-all?” Heyes hazarded with a quirk of his brow.

“Hope it's not that snake-oil, although it'd be worth buyin' a bottle or two, if it'd stop him from tellin' us those awful jokes!” Curry avowed.

“Sure would,” Heyes nodded. “Well, my guess is Hal - the blacksmith.”

As the squishing sounds drew near, they turned their heads to the left.

“Glad to see it's you, Mike,” Kid greeted the man in the rain slicker. “You just won me a nickel!”

“I'm glad somebody's winning something – sure ain't any money bein' made by me sellin' my merchandise!” the drummer snapped. “All I know is that raindrops keep fallin' on my head!”(4) A smile broke out on his face. “Say, that's a pretty catchy phrase – maybe I can play around with it, turn it into some kinda song?” He removed his hat and thumped it against the building to get the water off. “Hey, fellas, that reminds me; I've got a new one for you. Listen to this: It's rainin' cats an' dogs out there. You know how I know? I just stepped in a poodle!” (5) Mike howled with laughter, slapped his thigh and plopped his soggy hat back on his head.

Heyes and Curry rolled their eyes and forced smiles to their faces.

“I'll have to remember that one, Mike,” Heyes said aloud. Under his breath, he added, “Remember not to tell it to anyone!”

“A poodle?” Curry queried behind cover of his hand.

“Some kind of fancy little dog for rich people,” Heyes responded quietly. “Not much good on a ranch or farm.”

“Oh.” Although Curry's brow puckered, he offered no further comment when a new set of squishes were heard.

Heyes spoke up first with his guess. “That's gotta be Bob Colton - from the mercantile.”

“No,” Curry shook his head and cocked his side to better listen to the squishing footwear. “Sounds more like Reverend Armstrong.”

“Hey - you two are getting real good at this – bet you're great trackers!” the drummer exclaimed in awe. “Looks like you're both winners,” he nodded towards the newcomers.

Sure enough, when Heyes and Kid turned to look, they saw two men walking towards them.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” Reverend Anderson greeted the small group. “This stormy weather(6) sure makes an ordinary morning stroll feel as if the devil himself was at my back! I felt as though we were being buffeted about like sparrows in a hurricane,(7) didn't you, Bob?”

“I don't have time to feel like a bird - I just came down here so I have witnesses around to see - and hear - what I'm about to do!” Bob stepped to the edge of the boardwalk and shook his fist at the downpour. “Dagnabbit all - don't let the rain come down – my roof's got a hole in it and I might drown!(8)

His words elicited chuckles, as well as amused looks, from the men behind him.

Bob turned around. “It's the gospel truth!” he sputtered and then glanced at the clergyman. “Oh, sorry, Reverend; no offense.”

Into each life a little rain must fall,”(9) Armstrong replied, his tone complacent. “Just remember that eventually every storm runs out of rain,”(10) he added and tipped his head at the group. “Have a good day, gentlemen.”

Curry leaned over to Heyes. “A little rain?” he whispered. “This storm don't look like it's runnin' outta anything!”

“He's just looking on the bright side, Thaddeus.”

It was Kid's turn to give his partner the look.

Bob had turned back to stare balefully at the drencher responsible for making his life miserable. “You know, if anyone had asked me three days ago what I thought about the rainstorm, I'd have said it was a cloudburst, or at the worst, a real gullywasher(11), but now...” his voice faded off. “You know,” he mused, “this kinda rain reminds me of the time when I was over in England. They had a real peculiar saying about a storm, you know, for when the rain comes down in long, straight streaks, just like the way it's doing now. Let me think on it a minute to see if I can remember how it goes...” The group waited while he closed his eyes and mumbled to himself a few times. All of a sudden, his eyes popped open and he snapped his fingers. “Got it! They said it was raining stair-rods.”(12)

Varying reactions followed his statement, including expressions that ranged from dubious surprise to outright curiosity. One blank look and one scrunched up brow completed the collection

“I'm sure I've never heard that term used here before,” Heyes commented. “Do you have any idea what stair-rods are?”

“Sure do,” Bob nodded. “I had exactly the same question when I first heard the odd phrase, so I asked. They told me that the rods hold the stair-carpet in the angle between the two steps. For today, stair-rods is a good description because both the rods and the rain are long and straight.” He glanced around at the group and added, “Well, now that you've all learned something new, guess I'd better get going – might have to borrow a boat and row home,” Bob half-joked wryly.

Along with nodding heads, there was a general burst of laughter from the male population huddled together on the boardwalk.

“Hey, look who's come out to join us,” Heyes called out. “It's about time we had some females around here to balance things out.”

“Myrtle and Gertrude!” everybody chorused together as the middle-aged twins who ran the cafe next door to the hotel stepped around the corner.

“No need to be so formal - Myrt and Gert will do just fine,” Gert smiled at the group. “Oh, my goodness, Myrt,” she twittered. “See, I told you it was doing more than pelting down rain out here - it's raining men!”(13)

Her remark caused another round of geniality as the men chuckled at her words.

“Oh, I do like to hear laughter in the rain,”(14) Myrt smiled. “Considering how much of the wet stuff we've been having, it's real nice to hear someone who's happy.”

“I'd settle for a real nice heat wave!”(15) Mike grumbled. “And the sooner the better! Three days of this downpour is enough to drive a person loco! I'm tired of feeling like a drowned rat all the time – I haven't felt the sun in three long days!”

As Mike's rant died out, Myrt and Gert whispered together before Gert broke away to stand in front of him. “Myrt and I have some advice that might help you, Mr. Mike. Open up your heart and let the sunshine in(16) – you'll forget all about the rain and you'll feel warmer inside, too.” Her message delivered she hurried back to her sister's side.

Finding himself at a loss for words, Mike silently beseeched the other men for help.

Bob came to his aid. “That's a real nice sentiment ladies; real nice. Uh, Mike, didn't you say you'd walk with me as far as the livery?” At the man's blank look, Bob widened his eyes “My wagon - remember? In the barn? I need to check on it as well as my horses.”

“Your wagon...?” Bob repeated, his mind still in a muddle. And then it hit him. “Oh yes... we were about to leave when the ladies joined us.” He stepped closer to Mike and licked his lips. “Got anything to drink in that wagon of yours?” he inquired in a low tone. He looked at the saloon across the street and the swollen body of water that separated them. “I'm not in any kinda mood to swim through all that just to get a drink.”

Mike nodded; his eyes lit up at the possibility of making a sale on such a dismal and dreary day. “All kinds of stuff; I'll be glad to show you - I'm sure you'll find something you need or want...” his voice faded off as the duo walked down the boardwalk.

“Well, Gert, it's time for us to head back to the cafe,” Myrt tugged on her sister's arm.

“Yes,” Gert nodded, “we've done enough gallivanting around for a while; back to work. We'll be seeing you later, right, boys?”

Heyes and Curry nodded. Curry watched them leave with a wistful expression. If he'd had his way, they be following right behind the twins! Left alone once more in the silence that followed everyone's departure, he gave the saloon a speculative look. “You know, if we threw a hook across the water -”

“The roof's sloped.”

“We could rig a pulley,” Curry persisted stubbornly. “Like we did in Porterville, to get that dynamite across to the roof of the bank.”

“Won't work. Nothing to grab on to.”

Defeated temporarily, Kid sat back and folded his arms across his chest, his expression thoughtful. “We could always go back to the room and read?” he offered in a half-hearted tone a few moments later.  

“We?” Heyes gave Curry an amused look. “I'd tell you that you came up with a good idea, but I've already read them all.” A beat later he added, “But if you want to read them...”

“No - uh, I mean I didn't see any I liked,” Curry hedged quickly. “That's okay, on second thought, maybe it'd be better if we just stay right here. If we leave, we might lose our bench.”

“Uh, huh,” Heyes couldn't prevent the chuckle Curry's response evoked. “You know, Kid, sometimes you're the silver lining in my storm clouds.”

“I don't know 'bout that, Heyes.” Curry wrinkled his nose and shook his head. "Somehow, I don't think we're what you'd call rainy day people.”(17)

Heyes began to tug on his boot. “Button up your coat and get your boots off.” He paused a beat then, as an afterthought added, “Oh, and your socks, too.”

“Huh?” Curry's brow furrowed. “Why?”

“'Cos that saloon is calling our name and I'm tired of sitting here listening to it.” A few moments later, boots in hand, Heyes looked at his partner. “Ready?”

Curry nodded. “First time I've ever swam to a saloon.”

Heyes grinned, cocked his head to the side and eyed his partner critically. “One more thing.” He stepped forward to tug Curry's hat down firmly on his head.

“What'd you do that for?”

“To protect your face,” Heyes grinned and gave his partner a wink. “I can't bear the thought of your blue eyes cryin' in the rain.”(18)

The two men jumped off the boardwalk and into the swirling water and mud, then trudged their way to the other side of the street, holding their boots above their heads.  A trip that should have taken less than a minute, turned into fifteen. Exhausted and out of breath, but with their goal in sight, Heyes and Curry finally found the first step and grabbed hold of the railing to help pull themselves up and out of the water. Just as their feet touched the boardwalk, the rain began to taper off. A few moments later, a single ray of sunshine poked through an opening that had appeared in the clouds. The raindrops were trickling down to a drizzle.

Heyes collapsed in a chair. Using his bandana, he began to dry off his feet before putting a sock on each one. He had one foot inside a boot and was in the process of shoving his foot into the other boot one when his partner tapped him on the shoulder.

“Look,” Curry pointed to the sky.

Heyes finished sliding his foot inside the boot and glanced up to see a rainbow that arched across the sky. “Well, I'll be... That's gotta be a good omen, Kid.” Seeing that Curry already had both boots on, Heyes grinned and clapped his partner on the back. “Let's go see if we can find our own pots of gold inside that saloon.”

Sporting ear-to-ear grins, the two men pushed their way through the batwings.

As the doors swung back and forth behind them, Curry stepped back long enough to stare at the swollen body of water that was still swirling through the town. His wistful eyes lifted to where the “Myrt and Gert's Cafe” sign hung in the window. The cafe, which was now on the opposite side of the street, looked very far away.

“Wonder if Heyes gave any thought to us gettin' back to the hotel... an' the cafe?” With a shrug of resignation, he put his hand on his stomach and whispered, “Guess you'll jus' havta settle for a beer for now; maybe an egg or two if we're real lucky.” He turned away to join his partner who was already seated at a table putting his money down.



1  “A Day Without Rain” - sung by Enya

2. “Rain, Rain, Go Away” -  (A) Song sung by Bobby Vinton -  (B) Also a children's rhyme. Similar rhymes can be found in many societies, including ancient Greece.
The modern English language rhyme can be dated to at least to the 17th century when James Howell in his collection of proverbs noted: “Raine raine goe to Spain: faire weather come againe.”
A version very similar to the modern version was noted by John Aubrey in 1687 as used by "little children" to "charme away the Raine...": “Rain raine goe away, Come again a Saturday.”

3. “It's Raining, It's Pouring”  The rhyme is believed to have originated from Ireland during the commonwealth period (1649-1660) and the dictatorial conditions in the country at that time.
The poor weather conditions in line one reflect the genocide committed against Irish Catholics whilst the last three lines are most likely a wish that Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England, will die in his sleep.

4. “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”  Written by Hal David & Burt Bacharach, sung by B.J. Thomas and used in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

5. “Raining Cats & Dogs” Joke: The first recorded use of a phrase similar to “raining cats and dogs” was in the 1651 collection of poems Olor Iscanus. British poet Henry Vaughan referred to a roof that was secure against “dogs and cats rained in shower.”
One year later, Richard Brome, an English playwright, wrote in his comedy City Witt, “It shall rain dogs and polecats.”
In 1738, Jonathan Swift published his “Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation,” a satire on the conversations of the upper classes. One of his characters fears that it will “rain cats and dogs.” Whether Swift coined the phrase or was using a cliché, his satire was likely the beginning of the phrase’s popularity.

6. “Stormy Weather” - sung by Etta James

7. “Sparrows In A Hurricane” - sung by Tanya Tucker

8. “Don't Let the Rain Come Down” - sung by The Serendipity Singers or Brothers Four

9. “Into each life a little rain must fall” taken from the poem, “The Rainy Day” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

10. “Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain” - sung by Gary Allan

11. Gullywasher: A short but heavy rainstorm. Over quickly, but dumps a lot of rain in a short time, many times causing floods.

12. “Raining “stair-rods”: One of the most common, as well as the most vivid descriptive phrases, is raining stair-rods. Many people in the UK haven't seen a stair-rod for 50 years or more so it has the comfortable feeling of a phrase your mother or father might have used to describe the rain. It is a rod that holds a stair-carpet in the angle between two steps. The analogy, of course, is the rain falling in long, straight streaks - both German and French have words using the imagery of ropes or cords to do the same thing.

13. “It's Raining Men” - sung by The Weather Girls

14. “Laughter In The Rain” - sung by Neil Sedaka

15. “Heat Wave” - sung originally by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas; remake by: Linda Ronstadt

16. “Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine In” sung by The Lancers (My personal fav... For fun, cartoon fans of “The Flintstones” will enjoy this memory):

17. “Rainy Day People” - sung by Gordon Lightfoot

18. “Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain” - sung by Willie Nelson

study  "My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel -- it is, before all, to make you see..."  study  ~~ Joseph Conrad ~~
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May Challenge: "It Never Rains That It Pours" :: Comments

Re: May Challenge: "It Never Rains That It Pours"
Post on Sat 28 May 2016, 2:23 am by Penski
genius You're amazing!

May Challenge: "It Never Rains That It Pours"

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