By Doug Moore
It was a wisp at first, but an odd wisp. Small and black, it looked like a hole in the sky when it first appeared. But the hole gradually grew into a large, dark cloud that spread like a blot of ink.
It contrasted starkly with the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Early August sweltered, heat spiraled off the asphalt, and the cloud brought welcome relief. As it grew, a murky shadow flitted across the blue hotel swimming pools.
It was an instant novelty. Vegas had fun with it. Within days one of the big hotels ran a Name the Cloud contest. Win a two night stay at The Flamingo flashed a neon sign.
Some of the entries in the contest were Rain Maker, Coal Breath, Death Cloud, and Vegas Vapor. But Black Jack won.
And why not? Vegas had been dealt a winning hand. Long awaited rain would soon fall and cool down the simmering city. It was just a matter of time…
Seven hundred and fifty miles away, in Denver, Colorado, twenty-eight year old Clare McElvoy sat beside a hospital bed watching TV news reporters comment breathlessly on the cloud.
"I know how they feel," said the emaciated man in the bed. "I've got a dark cloud hanging over me, too."
"Professor," Clare said with a tremble, "please don't talk like that."