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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 26, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 26, 2017




The sidewalk was wet from the overnight drizzle. A man’s leather soles made soft slapping noises with each step as he rounded the corner of Third and Harbor. He had one hand in the over sized pea coat and the other holding the moth eaten pre war garment closed tight in the front. His old fedora, water and sweat stained, was pulled down low, his coat’s collar touching it in time with his gait. He made his way down the old cracked sidewalk of the sleeping city. He passed storefront churches proclaiming the Lord Jesus and his saving power, and old boarded up shops. One proclaiming your saving power if you shopped there. The man stepped over small torrents washing the sidewalk from broken downspouts bolted to brick buildings from the last century. His goal was now in site. The glow up ahead from an old corner coffee shop and lunch counter made for a comforting site on a cold wet night. The man quickened his step.


She pulled a zig zaggy cigarette from her old soft pack of Chesterfields. The counter man watched as the faded beauty in the window booth tore an empty cigarette pack open and inspected it. Disappointed, the old flower crumpled it.


Looking up at the greasy mustachioed man behind the counter, the redhead placed the crooked cigarette between her garishly red lips and silently signaled for a light. The man behind the counter caught her signal but only gave the lady in the window booth a dirty look and put his back to her. She rolled her eyes and started digging in her bag for some matches. She found a book and lit her cigarette. She blew the acrid smoke in the direction of the counter man and made a scoff sound. The lady nursed her strong black coffee and watched the rain-made halo around the corner street lamp glow. She thought it looked pretty. Just as she caught a glimpse of herself in the booth window, she also saw a man in a black wool coat walk in and take a seat at the counter. He turned on his stool and looked towards her.


The man stood in the entrance to Lombard’s all-night coffee shop. He released his grip on the front of his coat and beat the rain out of his hat and off his coat before entering the warm and well lit shelter from the wet night. The top of the door hit against a small bell when opened and then again as it closed behind him. He took a seat at the counter on an old chromium under-stuffed red vinyl topped stool. He turned his cup up and placed it back on its saucer as the counterman ignored him. The man swiveled around, taking the place in. His eyes landed on the lady in the window booth. He watched the lady in the old fashioned dress and hat crush out a cigarette and glance over at him. She looked as though she had been crying softly to herself and so pretended to have something in her eye. His attention shifted when the rude counter man filled his cup and walked off without a word. After taking a quarter of the hot black stuff in a single gulp, the man produced a small silver flask from his coat and poured it into his cup, filling the brown stained vessel to the brim again. The counter man was going to make a comment, the man knew, and so put his back to him before he could. The man’s eyes roamed the dingy old establishment, with its worn out upholstery, rust speckled napkin dispensers, chipped jade green and white checkerboard floor tiles. He could smell stale deep fryer grease and old farts, cheap perfume, over cooked coffee and burnt toast. Years worth of working class humanity coming and going through this old lunch counter. His eyes slowly made their way back to the odd lady’s booth. The woman looked up from her coffee and their eyes met for the second time. He smiled at her and she smiled back before turning quickly away.


The lady turned her head away. The man was tired looking but he was a rugged kind of handsome. She didn’t know what to say to him. She was sure she could come up with something though. Maybe “Do you have a cigarette?” or “How about that rain, huh?” She saw him take the rest of his coffee in a gulp from the reflection in the window. She heard the old stool swing back as he stood up. She turned her head further away and re wiped her eyes before turning back with her best coy smile, but then she heard the little bell above the door and turned towards the counter. He was gone.


The ugly counter man picked up the nickel left by the tired looking man and replaced his cup with a clean one. He gave the old ghost in the window booth a sympathetic look and turned back to his register.


The man stepped out into the pre light dawn, popped his collar against the wind and pulled the old coat tight again. Looking up, he admired the halo the light rain made around the corner street lamp. He thought it looked pretty.

© Copyright 2019 R.Guy Behringer. All rights reserved.

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