The sun is a furnace. The sun is an oven. The sun is clichés he hasn't even thought of yet.
And the air? The air is a shroud of hot, damp flannel wrapped tight around his every pore. A "heat dome," they're calling it. "Hell with humidity," he's thinking.
It's time for... Basement Man.
Basement Man has gone underground. It's his only chance to beat the heat, the only chance to keep his remaining brain cells from being fricasseed.
Basement Man's house has a main floor; in the early hours of the morning, with the air-conditioning working full-blast and two fans blowing on him, with all the shades on all the windows facing east drawn against the morning sun, the main floor of the house is almost tolerable. He tries to spend some early-morning time on the main floor, if only for a change of scenery.
It's getting harder, though. The heat has started accumulating, and the tolerable periods on the main floor are getting shorter and shorter.
You don't want to know about upstairs.
(No, really -- you don't want to know about upstairs.)
In normal times, Basement Man lives much of his life upstairs -- he works there, sleeps there, watches TV there, even eats there more than a few times a week.
That's in normal times. Now he goes up there once a day for a change of clothing -- and that's once too often. Maybe he should move the relevant dresser drawers to the basement, too. Then he'd never have to go upstairs.
On the other hand, he'd have to move the dresser drawers. Even thinking about that kind of exertion turns his skin clammy. He reaches for another Gatorade.
Basement Man needs his electrolytes.
Basement Man also needs his caffeine, it turns out. Basement Man had read the warnings about drinking caffeine in these miserable conditions: caffeine makes the body surrender fluids, when what the body needs is to retain fluids. So he'd eliminated caffeine -- the twice-daily iced coffee, the occasional Diet Coke.
If he lost too many fluids, he'd feel terrible.
Turns out he also feels terrible when he gets a "What-happened-to-my-caffeine?" headache. So Basement Man is compromising: a swig of Gatorade, a swig of Diet Coke. Another swig of Gatorade, another swig of Diet Coke, a swig of --
It would be so nice to have a bathroom in Basement Man's basement.
Then again, Basement Man wouldn't need a bathroom in his basement if he had air conditioning that really worked -- air conditioning that could put up some kind of a fight against the triple-digit uglies on the main floor, where the bathroom is, let alone upstairs, where the other bathroom is.
(You don't want to know about upstairs.)
Down in the basement, though...
It's livable down in the basement. The sun never shines down in the basement, and the unfinished floor is strangely pleasant to the touch. There's another fan down there that he keeps pointed right at him at all times. There's a little table just big enough for his computer (or his dinner plate), and a chunky-cushioned couch that's just long enough for him to sleep on.
And there's a TV down there, too, so he can keep up with the news. So he can watch the weather reports and find out when it might be safe to re-emerge, to return once again to the earth's surface.
Basement Man has been down there for four days and four nights now. He can stay even longer if he has to. He's perfectly prepared to wait it out.
In the meantime, he's got the gentle whir of fan blades, and the thrill of cool cement on bare feet.
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at email@example.com.
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