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Figured I'd give it a whirl when the idea popped into my head after reading Dave's set up. My stuff is in bold - if I used the codes properly, that is.
The girl behind the counter was giving me what I assumed to be her professional smile; bright as a light bulb and just as empty. I ordered my usual café mocha with a shot of white chocolate and searched for a table in the crowded coffee shop. I sat at one next to the big bay windows so that the sun coming through the glass could warm my chilled bones. I’ve turned into a people watcher in my old age and I’ve found that a window seat gives you the chance to watch those without as well as within and that appeals to the writer in me. I had just settled in when my coffee arrived. I pulled out my notebook, took a sip, and began my observation. My jotted notes, some real and some made up, were an attempt to come up with a character for my next short story.
As I watched the people passing through for their morning cups of joe; one man caught my attention and all thoughts of writing flew out of my head. Years of anti-terrorism training from my time in the military kicked in and a feeling of wrongness was coming off this cat in waves. It was a combination of seemingly unimportant details that put it all together for me. It was cold outside, and this man was wearing what looked like a military issue rain coat to go with the dress uniform. No military member would wear it unbuttoned like that, old habits die hard. It hung loose and the belt was askew. He paced nervously in line, as though inpatient to get his coffee and go. His hand kept straying to the inside of his coat as if to check that something was secure in there. His eyes darted back and forth taking a mental count of how many people were present and he took special note of me, identifying me as a potential threat…military training for sure.
“Sir? Can I help you sir?” the girl behind the counter said.
“Yeah, you can shut the fuck up and empty the register!” the man screamed as he pulled a sawed off, pump action, .12 gauge shotgun from under his trench coat. He fired a single shot into the air. Plaster from the ceiling tiles rained down around him. He’s certainly not the brightest crayon in the box is he. He leveled the gun at me.
“One wrong move mister and you’ll be sipping coffee in hell,” he said.
Just my luck…my stomach rumbled. I’d forgotten my lactaid pills. Again. All the rote training in the world can make one a superhero but our brains and bellies betray us at the most inopportune moments. Or not.
“What’s the matter with you?” our used up crayon asked as he caught me squirming in my seat, my breath fogging up the window as I tried to look less conspicuous.
“It’s my stomach,” I said, trying not to sound like I was about to explode. “I didn’t take my meds.”
“And how’s that my problem?” the grey crayon asked.
“Well, if I don’t get to a shitter soon, I’m gonna let loose here and that’s not going to be a pretty sight. I don’t reckon you brought your shit kicking shoes, did ya?”
He considered what’d I’d said and then looked at the waitress as if she’d have the a solution to his problem. Being she’s almost as dull a crayon as our desperate criminal friend, she just shrugged. He turned to me, unsure what to say next. And that’s when I lost all control.
I let out the loudest, most flatulent exhaust plume ever. The kind that would burn the city to a crisp had I been standing with my back to a lit candle. The dim pair at the counter, one behind, the other before it, turned as one. The look on their faces indecipherable until the ceiling fan betrayed me and spread the offending carrion call throughout the dining area.
“Ugh, that smells like my grandma after I killed her,” the (hopefully dishonorably discharged) soldier of misfortune exclaimed. He then turned to the cashier and tried his hardest to look intimidating again as I attempted to melt into my booth before the next bomb dropped. The cashier, looking ever dimmer, just shrugged and pinched her nose instead of reaching into her till.
Our inept robber opened his mouth to threaten her and instead got a mouthful of the noxious air around us. He dry heaved once, twice and then let loose with whatever he’d eaten before – except it didn’t look quite as edible as when he ingested it. The cashier forgot about her nose and ran headlong through the swinging doors to the kitchen and I could hear her heaving a moment later.
“Well, I guess it’s just me and you,” I said to him a moment before he faced me, mucusy worms hanging from the corners of his mouth.
“No, gramps, it’s just you and your unholy gas,” he said before backing out of the diner, wiping his mouth with his trembling, gun-toting hand.
* Or "Saved by flatulence again."
I will never write like you and I hope you never write like me.
"...the only war that matters is the war against the imagination--all other wars are subsumed in it..." -Diane di Prima