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The Ear Hustler (flash fiction)

14 Mar

(PHOTO: stfudii)

“YOU LOOK GOOD,” the guy tells the woman. They’re standing behind a teacher in a coffee shop where the audio selection shifts from jazz to acoustic world music to blue grass, then back to jazz. Grounded coffee beans claim the space with their fragrant presence.

The guy has close-cropped white hair. He’s wearing a gray sports blazer over tan khaki pants. He’s much older than the woman, who’s dressed as if she’s heading toward the gym or as if she’s just finished jogging and came inside to cool off, having had the sun bake her complexion a pumpkin hue when it seemed to scream its heat over everything uncovered.

The teacher taps his fingers on the countertop. He took his students out for a writing exercise. He told them where to set up, and figured he had enough time to grab a drink and get back before his students noticed him missing. He needed something cold for his dry throat made dryer by the 78 degrees. He watches the couple, who, at first, appears to be father and daughter—that is, until he sees how the old man is holding her shoulders.

The woman looks no younger than 25, yet something about the touch still seems inappropriate—the old man rubbing her arms and squeezing her flesh, how his touches linger. That she doesn’t shrug him off says she’s comfortable with this, that he’s done this before. It says she even enjoys this as he leans back and slowly rolls his appraising gaze over her new body. “How much weight did you lose?” he asks.

A woman making drinks tells the teacher his Green Tea frappuccino is ready. She tops it off with whip cream while the teacher smiles like the young woman who tells the old man, “I lost thirty pounds.” The teacher pops the straw through its paper sheath; he slides it through the dome cover and into his drink, which a student will later say looks like guacamole and sour cream, stunning the teacher with her imagery.

But at the moment, the teacher sips the gooey goodness of milk, ice, and green tea powder. The old man asks the young woman, “How did you lose the weight?” The teacher nearly chokes from her response: “I got divorced.”

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Fiction

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “The Ear Hustler (flash fiction)

  1. Kobie

    March 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Gets no better.

     
    • Alan King

      March 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks, Kobie. One my students wrote a really good story about two sisters who didn’t look related. She watched a family on Wisconsin Avenue and came up with a really good story. Thanks again.

       
  2. Sheela Kangal

    April 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you, teacher. I have been in public spaces where I’ve done a double-take and realized a caressing touch was actually a power play and utter manipulation. Perhaps the young lady’s last retort popped off the offense.

     
    • Alan King

      April 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      Hey Sheela,

      That’s definitely an interesting take. I hadn’t thought of it as the young lady being repulsed by the older man. I won’t say what I had in mind because I don’t want to ruin the experience for you (or anyone else). I do like your spin: the lady using her divorce as a way of deflecting the older man’s advances. That’s the beauty of literature: every person’s interpretation is different.

      Thanks for stopping through and blessing me with a comment, Sheela :)

       

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