(Write about an umbrella that jabs, stabs, trips or pokes and introduces somebody.)

The rain was blowing sideways forcing pedestrians to walk with their umbrellas aimed in the direction of the deluge; the precise angle and tilt of each umbrella changing with the rounding of a street corner - when what had just been north suddenly became east and the downpour realigned itself with a serious sort of vengeance that mostly went unchecked by manmade goods.

Both fists wrapped tightly around the delicate stem of her hardly functional parasol; Erica kept her head bowed low against the onslaught, eyes on the sidewalk only a few feet in front of her, eyes squinted, mind on her dachshund Chester whom she knew must be frightened beyond belief at home alone in her flat, terrorized by the ensuing maelstrom of lightning and thunder.

Chester didn't like thunderstorms AT ALL. Chester also didn't approve when Erica left the flat. For anything.

Waiting for the green "okay to cross" light at the corner of Washington and 3rd, Erica stood at the edge of the sidewalk preoccupied with worries about Chester and an undeniable anxiety at hurrying to get home when a stretch limo making a left onto Washington took the corner more than a wee bit too tightly, creating a bow wave that arced higher than Erica's head and completely drenched the young woman from head to toe, her flimsy umbrella crumpling flaccid from its apex, her entire person baptized by waters that had been collecting all afternoon and evening in a streetside gutter that simply couldn't empty quickly enough.

Gasping, she wiped the water from her eyes, smearing mascara across her left cheek as she turned her gaze to the crappy dimestore umbrella that had been pretty much useless from the moment she'd deployed it into active duty. It was demolished... deflated... spines bent and broken with scraps of nylon clinging to it uselessly. She started to laugh as she shivered (because the whole thing really was horrid and awful and crazy and FUNNY) and as she stood there unprotected with the rain washing over her in torrents, she tossed the useless umbrella into a corner garbage can, red brakelights illuminating the rain-glistened avenue before her as she turned back to the corner she'd originally meant to cross and spied the limo's liveried driver extending a hand to her, bumbling apologies, imploring her to please allow him to drive her to her intended destination.

Erica waved him off at first; she'd be fine. But the rain was insistent and showed no signs of letting up soon and she still had 6 long blocks left to walk to get home to Chester. And the chauffeur was smiling at her and extending his hand. He'd opened the back door of the limo and was gesturing that she should enter, reassuring her all the while, basically pleading with her to allow him to "make things up to her".

So with a thousand second-guesses running through her mind, Erica decided to accept the invitation, took the man's proferred hand and ducked her head as she took a seat inside the limo, dripping water everywhere as she slipped inside before lifting her head to spy the last possible celebrity IN THE WORLD with whom she ever imagined she'd be sharing a limo....


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