Friday, November 21, 2014

Ordinary Average Guy by Jim Bartlett

Jim Bartlett's character Lee makes small talk with a friend about a visiting politician, but he has something to hide.

Lee slips out of the car and stretches from the long ride under a sky that looks like rain. Finding a dry spot on the cracked asphalt, he leans his wrapped package against the back door of the car and works his hand trying to get some feeling back. He glances over at Frazier, still behind the wheel listening to the radio.

Damn news. He'd heard enough of those reports over and over again on the trip here to last a lifetime.

He takes a step away from the car and looks around. From where he stands he notes the employee parking lot to be only half full, but it's still early. And it's a Friday.

"Gonna be a big day today," Frazier says, finally stepping out.

Lee shrugs, says nothing. He watches Frazier move to the front, kick a foot back against the bumper, and light a cigarette.

"Not sure why that asshole is comin' through these parts, ain't no one here gonna vote for him no way."

Lee crosses his arms and smiles, but remains quiet.

"You ain't votin' for him, is you?"

"Nope."

Frazier cocks his mouth to the side and blows off a long stream of smoke.

"So you ain't comin' back with me this evenin'?"

"Nah. Got some things to do."

"I thought maybe you and the missus were havin' some problems."

Lee shuffles his feet. "Not that it's any of your business, but, ain't quite like that."

Frazier shakes his head, takes a final long drag and tosses the cigarette. "Didn't mean to get you all in a huff. Just askin', ya know?"

Lee nods. "Your neighbor, Miss Payne, well she's real nice for lettin' my wife stay at her house. It's been workin' out just fine." He pauses and looks up at the clouds now starting to part revealing a promising sun. "Yes sir, things are starting to happen. Only a little longer and this'll all be over."

A faded red Buick pulls up in the space one over from Frazier's Chevy, leaving a trail of blue smoke in its wake. Lee can hear the radio blaring even with the windows closed. Much the same as Frazier, the man, red-faced with a barrel chest, is listening to the news.

More radio. Shaking his head, Lee moves around to the front of Frazier's car and leans against the hood just as the broadcast goes quiet and the man pushes open his door.

"Morning there, boys," he calls out. The voice is every bit as deep as his chest.

Both Lee and Frazier nod back.

Frazier slides across the front next to Lee and taps the face of his watch.

"Looks to me like we have more than 'nuff time to grab a cup of coffee before our shift starts. What d'ya say we head in?"

"Okay."

Lee straightens and starts to follow Frazier, already headed for the loading dock on the backside of the tired-looking brick building.

"Hey there," calls out the older man. "Don't forget your package."

Lee spins around, his face washed in red. His eyes shoot to the slender package wrapped in newspaper still leaning against the Chevy.

"Thanks, mister," he says as he scoops it up. "Curtain rods for the apartment."

The man sticks out a big calloused hand.

"You must be new here. Don't reckon I've seen you around. I'm Mel Johnson... work on the fifth floor."

Lee shifts the package and meets Mel's hand.

"Lee Oswald. I'll be on the sixth."

12 comments:

  1. This is exceptional, one of the best pieces of Flash Fiction that I've read, and I love the genre. The end came out of nowhere for me, (although obviously there was indication of plans, guns and crime). It worked with great timing and no spare words.
    Thank you,
    Ceinwen

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    1. Thanks, Ceinwen. Coming from a fellow writer, your words are even more encouraging!

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  2. Well-written and suited for Fridays!

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    1. You can thank Charlie for the Friday idea. But I'll thank you for the read and kind words!

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  3. this is so clever! super build up, I knew something was coming but....
    love the way Lee is portrayed, just a few words and you see inside the man.
    Really good, Jim

    Michael McCarthy

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    1. Thanks, as always, Michael. Really do appreciate your insights. Waiting with bated breath for your next one!

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  4. When I saw the end coming close I wondered how things would tie up so quickly. Then Bam! what a twist. The writing is good too. Just the right balance of dialogue and scene description. Well done.

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    1. Thanks, Laura! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks much for the read and even more so for taking a moment to comment!

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  5. Hi Jim, I enjoyed the mood, the deadpan matter of fact, the way the story held a focus. the ending of course is universally known. James McEwan

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    1. But they were only curtain rods! ;-) Thanks for the read and the great comments, James. Much appreciated.

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  6. Very impressive and descriptive storytelling. I love character driven stories and this is so far one of my favorites.

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  7. I appreciate you taking the time for the read and even more so the kind comments, Phoenix! Happy New Year!

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