Saturday, August 6, 2011
One Second Of Fortune
I am writing the following short story for Thursday Tales. The inspiring image is Aame at A Buzzing Mind... and a Passionate Heart.
Lee glanced down at the black under his fingernails. He could feel dirt and sweat collecting against his brow. His clothes reeked of hot, August suns in city garbage dumps. He couldn't remember the last time he bathed. He fantasized about taking a dive into that cold, glass of water on the table.
He was situated in a diner with black and white checkered floors and pretty, pastel paintings along the walls. The patrons turned up their noses and looked away. He disgusted them. He understood and kept his head down.
His mouth watered as he perused the menu. He watched an invisible plate grow with a mountain of golden pancakes, a river of strawberry and butter floating down his belly. He couldn’t recall the last time he had eaten. The pockets in his jeans were worn away and full of holes. He didn’t have any money.
A young girl with baby doll eyes and pink, pouty lips walked to his table. She had a crisp, white apron around her waist. He hadn’t loved a woman in a long time.
“May I take your order, sir?” There was an anxious quiver in her voice.
“What do you recommend miss,” Lee answered coolly. His dirty smile was not reassuring.
“People like the American style burger. We also have a special on all-you-can-eat flapjacks.”
“That sounds good. I’ll take the flap jacks.” Lee closed the menu and handed it over to the waitress. She reluctantly took the menu and bowed out silently.
Lee had his fill of flapjacks, devouring a mountaintop of buttery pancakes. Nearby, patrons ogled at the man with no stomach.
Then, the waitress turned her heels on him with a sheepish smile. She laid her tiny fingers on the table with a note. He had hoped it would be her number. Instead, it was a bill he couldn’t pay for.
He glanced at the counter top ahead of him where a man, dressed in a business suit, vacated his seat. Several bills were laid out next to the tip jar. The waitress was out of view and the patrons were too engrossed in conversation to notice him.
Calculating his moves, Lee stood and approached the counter top. He came within inches of the money when a man cleared his throat behind him.
The man in the suit had returned. His eyes were a brilliant blue; his blonde hair was slicked back. He fidgeted with his cuff links and glanced at the watch on his right wrist. He acknowledged Lee with a slight smile.
“You don’t want to take that,” he advised. “There’s a limit to that money. Fast money dries up pretty fast.” He leaned against the table and blocked Lee’s path. Lee feared the man might arrest him. After a moment of silence, the man laughed hard.
“Hey, don’t worry! I won’t give you away. I was in your shoes not too long ago.”
“What did you do,” Lee whispered. He was embarrassed to be seen this way in front of a business man.
“I got myself a job and cleaned up,” he smiled. “Money is easy to find when you aren’t looking for it. Take the money, man. You need it.”
Lee didn’t hesitate and grabbed the money on the counter. When Lee turned to thank the man, he was gone.
Lee smiled at his good fortune, paid the bill, and gave a generous tip to the girl with baby doll eyes.