“Bloody snobs,” muttered Pete the bin man, as his latest attempt to strike up a little conversation with an inhabitant of Viceroy Gardens failed dismally.
Pete had been emptying the basket for poop bags when a young woman approached with her Labrador and dropped another bulging little sack on the top. “Good morning, love. How are you today?” Pete said to the blonde, who completely ignored him.
As she minced away on high heels, Pete turned his attention to the refills. Taking his penknife, he made little nicks to the occasional new poop bag and stuffed it into the dispenser.
Long ago, when people were still struggling to survive, they gathered in tribes. It was the only life they knew. The world beyond was uncertain. Wandering off was risky.
But there have always been explorers, those who seek a new way. In time, explorers from all the tribes came together. They formed a much larger tribe than any they had left behind. They shared ideas and customs and blended both their cultures and bloodlines.
Eventually, they began to see themselves as first among tribes. And they began to see no benefit, only risk, in accepting those from other, lesser tribes.
I walked into the Starbucks, needing some hot coffee and hoping for some warm conversation.
A saxophone sounded like a man begging. A young woman at the counter rattled off an impossibly complex order to a young man who simply smiled and nodded.
The place was packed. Yet aside from the hissing espresso machine and the wailing sax, it was as quiet as a monastery. Everyone stared at their laptops, most with wires dangling from their earbuds. No one said a word.
“Is this for here or to go?” the man behind the counter asked.
“To go,” I said reluctantly.
“I’ll help you with your make-up, Sylvia,” volunteered Martha.
”Yes, I want to look my best for Jack. What lengths we young ladies go to, eh?”
Sylvia stared into the mirror, pleased with her appearance and started to sing a song very popular in the ’50s.
Martha shook her head sadly. Sylvia was once a beautiful woman but now a wreck like the discarded boats on Barry Harbour which would never sail again.
Jack had died in a car accident over half a century before.
Martha saw a rather different figure in the mirror.
“He’s late,” Sylvia sighed.
(Originally posted to LinkedIn.)
Joe sat at his computer, forehead in his palms. This exercise was a weekly ritual, and he’d only missed a handful of them over the years. But tonight, he had nothing.
“Crud. What can I write about for Friday Flash Fiction?”
He’d already covered most of the obvious topics: everything from cats to aliens to Pluto. His head spun as he considered all the possibilities.
“Just write!” he told himself. He typed a sentence. Then another. Then several more. The story wasn’t his best, but considering the time frame …
Joe posted his story at 11:59 on Friday night. “Whew–close one.”
Meeting after thirty-five years at the funeral of a university friend whom cancer has taken too soon, they arrange a drink that evening for old time’s sake.
A couple of pints bring on reminiscences of wild oats sown in imagined misspent youths, in truth but on-campus capers of callow souls who’d never leave the straight and narrow.
After three they forget broken marriages, indifferent children, stalling careers, and looming old age, lost in their nostalgic haze.
At closing time their five-pint bonhomie makes all seem right with the world.
Shaking hands, they depart anesthetized into the dead of the night.
One, two, three, four, five, six steps.
Six steps back to his starting point.
A further six.
Knowing nothing of the perinatal disaster that had befallen him, he paces up and down like a caged tiger, although big cats have more space in captivity than he permits himself.
Of course, the financial settlement was welcome, but money couldn’t liberate her son, or reverse her husband’s suicide.
She jogs incessantly in a futile attempt to break free, aware that she must return home to be the last carer he sees at the end of each day.