A pitter-patter of rain began to fall. In the space of only a few minutes, the sky grew dark and distant rumblings of thunder grew louder and more urgent. Lightning turned from dim flashes to bright strikes directed at tall buildings. This is highly unusual in Boston, especially on a day when the forecast called for light showers. For no particular reason, I put on my raincoat and stepped outside.

The rain and wind had built to an intensity which made all attempts to stay dry futile. A handful of people were scurrying through the street, uselessly clutching items over their heads or ducking into doorways which promised only partial reprieve from the onslaught of water. Everyone seemed to be scurrying, except for two hairy men, clad only in swim trunks, standing barefoot in a puddle on the sidewalk down the street from my apartment. They looked to be in their early twenties, and in spite of the commotion they seemed content to stay exactly where they were.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” I shouted over a roar of thunder.

“Do you have a bar of soap?” one of them asked in an unexpected Kiwi accent.

“Excuse me?”

“A bar of soap. Our shower is broken, and we’re looking for a bar of soap.”