“I want something that tells the story straight with none of that fancy schmancy elaboration. You know, no dream sequences, no flashbacks, no mood setting narratives. Just give me the damn story already. And action. Lots of action. All the rest is just a waste of words. Not to mention ink and paper.”
No one was standing near him in the warm, musty-smelling second-hand bookstore. He was talking to the dust motes, or maybe to invisible elves watching over him from the tops of the bookcases.
“Hmmm. This one looks interesting. I like the cover. The title is catchy. Yep.” He headed to the counter with his prize gripped in his thick-fingered left hand as he dug in his pocket with his right hand, grabbing a wad of crumpled, damp bills. He tossed them on the counter next to his book and went back in for the coins.
“That’ll be $3.17, sir.” The female clerk spoke with confidence and a smile, looking straight into his eyes. She was an inch taller than him with a smattering of pale freckles scattered across the bridge of her nose and dusting the tops of her cheeks. Her hair was a natural reddish brown and her smile was genuine and charming.
He stared at her for a moment, eyes receding into his head as he calculated what was happening, then spoke with a gruff hoarseness, “The sign says all those books are only a dollar!”
The clerk continued grinning pleasantly as she glanced back at the book and the price tag adhering to the cover which illustrated in violent graphics the general plot arc of the story. Something on the cover made her blush as she replied, “I’m sorry sir, but another customer must have put this in the dollar stack by mistake. This one is $2.99, plus the tax of course.”
She spoke with a lovely lilt, her tone not condescending and only slightly apologetic. It was soothing and sweet. He was entranced, disarmed.
“Well, okay, I guess,” the words falling from his mouth like half-chewed food as he counted out the exact change from his sloppy cache of money.
The clerk picked the bills and change off the counter, sorted everything neatly into the cash register, closed it, bagged his book with his receipt, and handed it to him nearly singing, he thought, “Sorry about that, sir. Here you go. Have a nice day and come again!”
“Yeah, yeah,” he growled and grumbled as he shuffled toward the door. “You have a good day yerself, missy.”
He stepped outside into the cool early-winter air grasping his treasure in one hand as he closed his coat with the other. It was a windy and snow-streaked day. “Time to go home,” he spoke spewing steam, speaking to the wind, the snow, the day, the elves. “And meet these new friends.”
* It’s flash fiction Friday! (To learn more about FFF, click here and scroll down.)
Flash fiction is nothing more or less than a very, very short short story. This one is 500 words. What do you think? Know anyone like this guy? Who are the new friends he is planning to meet? What is the story really about? Please share your thoughts in the comments!