Friday, December 11, 2015

Phyllis by Paul Beckman

A waiter is attracted by a regular visitor who sits outside his restaurant to read; by Paul Beckman.

I first noticed them on Tuesday, five days ago. Phyllis, I've decided to call her, is sitting on the red bench by the hedges that surround our restaurant's outdoor space. There are many benches but the closest is the red one and the only one she uses. She is sitting with her long legs crossed, reading. Her legs are beautiful, thin and shapely and every so often she uncrosses and re-crosses the opposite way and her short skirt rides up and becomes even shorter. She is very provocative, more so because she's absorbed in her reading and doesn't appear to pay attention to anything as minor as her skirt riding up and up - up enough to show her underwear or lack of it some days. I feel like the luckiest waiter in our restaurant. Phyllis checks her watch, dog-ears the page and gets up from the bench, smoothes her dress, picks up her bag and walks off.

Minutes later, her bench mate, whom I've named Philip, field strips his cigarette and follows her down the path towards the park and out of sight. Yesterday Phyllis sat smoking while Philip read. He's always nicely dressed, a suit, knit vest and shined shoes. His mustache is trimmed. Tomorrow I'm sure will be his day to read again and hers to smoke. Phyllis doesn't cross and uncross her legs unless she's reading. Those days I don't feel like the luckiest waiter.

Have I mentioned that they don't speak to or even look at one other? They don't walk to the bench at the same time either but one always follows the other after a bit, appearing random in their timing. And it's the same when they leave. Tomorrow I'm going to approach them as a waiter and ask if they'd like a drink or something to eat. I want to see what Phyllis is reading and more than that I want to lean over when I ask for an order and smell her perfume. I'm certain she'll be wearing perfume.

I'll most certainly ask Philip for an order but I have no interest in his fragrance or his choice of reading material.

Phyllis wears a similar version of the same dress every day - sleeveless, colorful and flouncy above the knee. Its spring and the breezes have been light and warm. Perhaps I'll walk over to them with two glasses of water instead of asking them for an order and depending on their response I may or may not ask for an order. I do hope Phyllis says something and doesn't just shake or nod her head. I want to hear her voice. There's no doubt it will have the same effect on me as her legs do.

Today Philip shows up first and Phyllis doesn't follow and now I find myself being a bit short with my customers and that's not like me at all. Even though I'm tall and athletic I'm soft spoken and kind. I smile easily and don't often feel the cranky feeling that's absorbing me right now. But I feel cheated. It's Phyllis' day to read and cross and uncross her legs. I'm worried that Philip has done something to her so when he finishes his cigarette and gets up to leave I take off my apron and wait a little and follow him. He rounds the bend into the park and once there I turn and see Phyllis sitting alone on another red bench by the path reading. She looks up from her book and looks at me standing looking at her. I'm close but not close enough to smell her fragrance or see the book title. She uncrosses and re-crosses her legs.

7 comments:

  1. Ah, yes. We also serve who stand and wait. But those legs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brilliant engagement of the reader's attention that is left suspended, gorgeous attention to detail, nuanced and suggestive, and a well crafted 'flash' in several senses.
    Thank you,
    Ceinwen

    ReplyDelete
  3. First person, present tense - good choices. The story has the feel of a mystery, leaving the reader wanting to know who Phyllis and Philip are and what their relationship is. The story moves well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautiful attention to detail. Mysterious and compelling. A waiter, living his life through a fantasy of two anonymous people. Your story kept me interested, even fascinated and ended with your early promise of not giving too much away. Thank you,
    L.S. Sharrow

    ReplyDelete
  5. Crossing and uncrossing of the legs...right. I like the rhythm. Life = X / UX forever

    ReplyDelete
  6. A strangely compelling tale. There's a Phyllis in every city! S.Lucas

    ReplyDelete
  7. The waiter has the quality of a bee buzzing around a beautiful flower. Haven't we all been that bee? This story wonderfully portrays that feeling.

    ReplyDelete