Sorry for my absence. I've hit a rough patch... life is too dull to post about right now. Enjoy my attempt at a mainstream story, down to the unpronounceable title (mee-yon-delf). Oh, hey, it's sorta longish. :P
“Welcome to the Blue Moon!” Jill chirped. I chimed in out of habit, even though I was preoccupied with the clock and didn’t see who walked in. Quite frankly, I didn’t care. Though the clock was busted, I knew that Dillon was over an hour late.
“What can I get-“
“Jill!” Fred hollered from the back room. “Your pa’s on the phone!”
Jill sighed. “Lil, could you get this for me?” As she headed for the back, she brushed by closer than she needed to. “Hottie alert. I got dibs,” she hissed, snapping her bubblegum for emphasis of some sort.
I rolled my eyes and set the clock down on the bar. Pulling my notebook from my apron pocket, I retrieved a pencil stub from behind my ear and turned toward the front of the diner. The customer had chosen one of the seats closest to the door. His hair was dark, plastered down over his ears by the rain outside. The sleeves of his black rain slicker were pushed up over his elbows, and he hunched over the bar as if he were keeping out the world and its cares. My heart started to pound a little. I don’t know why I was surprised; Jill was rarely wrong when it came to guys.
“Can I get you something?”
His head snapped up, revealing the bluest eyes I had ever seen. He seemed surprised, then suspicious. “Aren’t you a little young to work in a pub like this?”
I held my chin up high. “I’m fifteen, and this is hardly a pub. If needed, there’s a drawer full of knives in the bar, a fire extinguisher’s in the back that can put out more than fires, and you obviously haven’t met my boss. If you want to go to a pub, go down the street.” Then my eyes narrowed. He couldn’t be that much older than me. “Besides, aren’t you a little young to visit a pub?”
He held up a hand. “Okay, point taken. Chill.” He opened the menu and scanned it. Apparently nothing caught his eye and he sighed. “What’s the cheapest thing you’ve got?”
I skimmed through the upside-down menu. “Water’s free.”
The corner of his mouth half-lifted and he shook his head, sending water droplets all over. “I’ve got plenty of that, thanks. I need something a little more substantial.”
“Well, how much do you got?”
He unzipped the slicker and pulled a worn wallet from somewhere inside. “Three soggy dollar bills, two hands that are willing to work, and a wink that’s worth at least a buck.”
“Is that so?” I set my notebook down and rested my palm on the countertop. “Let’s see it, then.”
With a flourish, he rested his chin on one fist and… winked.
I felt my nose scrunch up as I considered. “Hm. I’ve seen better. I’d say that’s worth seventy-four cents. How good are you at fixing stuff?”
He shrugged. “Like what?”
“Mechanical or battery operated?”
“Battery, but I just put a new one in and it’s still not working. “
“I’ll try my hand at it. What’ll I get in return?”
“Well, we have one pulled pork sandwich left. You can have it, and if you fix the clock, I’ll heat it up for you.”
“Alrighty,” he said, flexing his fingers. “Let me at it.”
I slid the clock across to him and went to the kitchen. Jill’s voice floated through the door to the back room as she argued with her dad. I pulled the sandwich from its bin, and Fred stepped out just as Jill’s voice got really loud. Fred shut the door behind him, twisting his fist in his long, salt-and-pepper beard. “They’re in a fight if they ever were,” he sighed.
“I know the feeling.”
Fred gestured toward the sandwich. “Dillon finally here?”
I shook my head and told him about the customer. “Is that okay?” I asked. “It would have been Dillon’s, anyway, and we get three dollars and possibly a clock out of this.”
Fred smiled and put his massive arm around my shoulders as we walked back to the front. “It’s just fine, lassie.”
Our customer was hunched over the clock when we came out. I slipped out from under Fred’s arm and set the plate on the table. “There you are. This would have been my brother’s, but he wasn’t on time, so it’s all yours.”
He held up a finger, and as soon as I fell silent, a steady ticking split the air. I scooped the sandwich back up. “I guess I owe this to you hot, huh?”
“Yep, that was the – whoa!” The second he caught sight of Fred he shot up so fast that the stool fell backwards. “Sorry,” he mumbled and tried to set the stool right-side-up, but he must have set it on his toe, because he gasped and pulled away. He ran a hand through his hair, causing some of the curls to stand upright. “This must be your boss,” he gulped.
“Yup. Microwaved okay with you?”
“Huh? Yeah, sure. That’s fine.”
“Well, me laddie,” Fred drawled, bringing out his Irish accent full force. “These actions o’ yourn be leadin’ me ta believe that yer intentions be not honest.”
“What? No! I mean, yes, I’m honest. I think. What did I come here for?”
“To eat, I believe,” I said, starting up the microwave.
He ran his hand through his hair again. “Could I actually take that to go?”
“Sure.” I leaned over to pull out a carton as Fred started up one of his belly laughs.
Before Fred could finish his laugh and say what was on his mind, Jill’s voice rose to a shrill shriek. Fred sighed. “I better go take care of this,” he mumbled, lumbering back through the kitchen.
The customer stared after him. “Why’d he loose the accent?”
“He only turns it on when there’re customers around. Thinks it’s a sales gimmick. Maybe people won’t mind eating from the hand of a giant if he talks funny.” I shrugged. “I don’t know, really. You still want this to go?”
“Yeah, I’ve got somewhere to be.”
“So it wasn’t just Fred?” The microwave beeped and I plopped the sandwich into the carton.
“Well… let’s just say he jogged my memory.” His lips lifted in a half-smile and he took the carton. “Thanks for letting me take your brother’s sandwich.”
“Hey, you paid for it, he didn’t.”
“Yeah, well, thanks, anyway.” He headed towards the door.
I picked up the clock and took it to its place on the wall, stretching on tip-toe to reach the nail.
“Oh, and Lilly?”
I dropped the clock, but, luckily, I caught it before it hit the ground. The customer had paused at the door and was looking back at me. He grinned and said, “Happy birthday.”
And then he was gone.
~Charli Rae |Job 39:19-25|