Flash Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Flowers on Concrete

This is cut from the middle of the chapter. If you recall from chapter one, posted here at the blog, if you’d prefer to read it first, Trey was seemingly in the throes of death, not saying he was or wasn’t, but he is really good at pretending (just sayin’), and looking up and imagining Angela. In chapter two, Angela is a teller at his bank, and he is desperate to end up in her line for a chance at small talk with her.

Angela was the only teller, so this was it. She would be touching my right hand so I held my slip and check in my left and rubbed the velvety rope so my right hand wouldn’t be clammy and gross. I was in line behind one guy, and he was walking up. Angela greeted him like a song. All he said back was that he was in a hurry. I didn’t like him. He was wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase and he hadn’t prepared his bank slips before he got in line like he was supposed to. Angela had to be nice to him and she couldn’t stand it. He probably just put on his suit to go to the bank and wasn’t important either. Angela wasn’t falling for it.

He was short with her and told her he needed his balance on the receipt, then handed her his stuff and started digging in his briefcase as if there were important crap in there. I have a lot of important business at the bank, too, since I get a separate paycheck for each of my newspaper routes, but I never act like a big deal. Angela gave a snide look that he didn’t see, that only I saw, then turned away. I had a disgusted look on my face as well and I wanted her to look over at me so we could hate him together, but she was turned to the side and typing into the computer.

“Sir,”—she ripped the receipt off the printer and held it out to him—“I’m afraid our computers are off-line, but here’s a receipt for your transaction.”

“No, no, I need a receipt with my updated balance, like I told you.”

“Well, this is a receipt for your transaction, but our computers are off-line so that information isn’t available.” She said it slow for him. She was being thoughtful. She was beautiful and thoughtful too.

“So do it the old way. What did you do before on-line?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t work here then.” Then she added helpfully, “I don’t think I was born yet.”

“If you’re going to get cute, I’ll ask to see the manager.”

“Sir, it will be possible to get your balance when we’re back on-line which will be tomorrow morning. If you’d like, I can get a manager to explain it to you, again.” She wore her hair in a pony tail, but it wasn’t really that long. I wondered what it looked like touching her shoulders.

The suit guy stalked off without saying anything else, leaving a thick trail of suit smell. That made it my turn. I was going to walk up, I was going to look over at the guy, give him a disgusted look, then look at Angela and shake my head back and forth like I couldn’t believe what a jerk that guy was. Then we could have talked about it. We could have joked about it and laughed. It would have been perfect, something we could have done together. But none of that happened. I walked over on legs that wouldn’t bend at the knee. I lost control of my facial expressions completely. She greeted me beautifully in a melodious voice that played perfectly with the faint track of music from speakers in the ceiling—the only other sound. That was the problem between us, she was always ready for me and I was never ready for her. I said nothing back. I only handed over my slip and my check which I noticed were worse than damp from the palm sweat of my left hand.

She turned to the computer, and I just stood there mute. Anxious for the moment to end so I could enjoy it. I stared at the stapler on her desk while I watched her fingers rub together. Her face was above me in a halo of computer screen light. She had the cute habit of letting her mouth hang open whenever she wasn’t talking.

She tore my receipt from the printer and set it on the counter in front of me. “Sir, I’m afraid our computers are off-line, but here’s a receipt for your transaction.” She didn’t hand it to me like she usually did. I looked up at her face one quick time while I picked the receipt up off the smooth, cool counter. “Have a good day,” she called after me, but I couldn’t even look back at her. I must have looked furious about not getting a slip with my balance on it.

Immediately, I wished I had that chance back. I stood between the two doorways from the bank to the outside that had an ATM and a glass-domed candy machine filled with red and yellow and orange gum. I could see Angela but I couldn’t hear her. She seemed to be having a wonderful conversation with an old lady at her counter. The old lady made her laugh somehow. I fed a quarter into the gum machine and turned the handle. All the gum that came out was blue and white. I shoved the little squares into my mouth and felt them clicking against each other, all tasting the same. I bit into them; they tasted good, but they wouldn’t for long. That kind of gum was gratifying for only a moment.

Chapter two is available as part of the free sample at amazon. All of chapter 2 is a short self-contained story I sent to literary magazines and got some good responses on. The free amazon sample, minus chapter one, is a longer self-contained story, which a couple magazines also liked but passed on. Please have a look at it when you get the chance, and pass it on to a friend or two, if you think they might enjoy it. Thank you!

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