Encounter on the Backporch of a Rundown Bookstore

Reads: 284  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An young, apathetic IT professional is mysteriously interrupted over cigarettes at a bookstore.

Submitted: June 25, 2009

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 25, 2009

A A A

A A A


Encounter on the Backporch of a Rundown Bookstore

THEY WERE AIRPLANE PEANUT CRUMBS from the trip to Kyoto. I shook them from the inside-out pocket of my jeans. Laundry day in San Francisco, two weeks back and I still couldn't escape the reminders.

THREE MONTHS earlier my boss had sent me there to install new networking software for some mid-sized advertising firm. It was basic stuff, something that by now, six years into the job, I could do with my eyes closed. Nothing in particular excited me about the fact I was working in Japan. I'd learned long ago that no matter where you go, all IT folks were the same, the grimy laptops, the misplaced arrogance, the wrinkled short-sleeve dress shirts and dusty slacks.

"We hope you are enjoying your stay, Mr. Thomson," the low-level executives in charge of the project would greet me every morning over stale coffee and small donut-hole looking things. "Glad to be a help," I would respond back, sometimes through my translator, sometimes not. Either way, I could only feign so much enthusiasm.

AS WITH ANY OF THESE TRIPS, the only respite came in the quiet time after eating dinner each night. I would walk over to the nearest bookstore, pull a good English language novel from shelves, and smoke through a pack of $10 cigarettes. Sometimes an employee would shoot me a frown or ask if I needed help with anything, but I was generally left alone to my reading.

A WEEK into my stay this comfortable pattern was interrupted. She threw herself down onto the bench where I was reading, pulled the novel out of my face, and into pushed it into my lap. She was a woman in her mid-twenties, wearing a gaudy chipped necklace of turquoise stones. I figured she wasn't an employee of the bookshop but some rude stranger. I opened my book back up and stared at her in disbelief. She reached and pulled a menthol cigarette out of the pack I had laying on the table. "Do you have light?" she asked in English. Her unkempt hair fell out in front of her eyes.

"I guess," I said, annoyed, fumbling through linen jacket for some matches. She stared off into the street, not acknowledging me while she smoked. I went back to the book, moved over, a bit and pretended nothing happened.

"I have something to tell you Mr. Thomson," she said. I looked up over the book. She grabbed the novel and ripped a page out, scrawling the words out in pencil before shoving the page back into my hand.

RUNNING OUT OF TOWELS is always the last straw before I know it's time to do the laundry. I run out of clean towels well before I run out of clothes. I set the abandoned peanut wrapper from my jeans down in the waste basket. I knew it was different now. I still had clean towels in the linen closet.


© Copyright 2020 nopeworthy. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Flash Fiction Short Stories