Hello Internet! Please welcome a newcomer to my blog, Ki Brightly! Ki has definitely risen to the Flash Fiction Friday challenge with this contemporary mystery piece. This tale features a deaf dining patron reading the lips of the cook slipping something into another diner’s food. Is that glass?
A Kind of Hero
by Ki Brightly
“Get your shit and leave,” Nolan signs to me angrily with his long, tapered fingers. Looks like he just came from a manicure. Usually I love that, the buffed gloss on his fingers as they talk to me, but not now. His emerald green eyes are icy in the afternoon light and somehow his slight frame is menacing as he leans over our bed, shoulders hunched. “I was serious. I’m not going to be your sugar daddy so you can feel sorry for yourself instead of living,” he signs. His lips turn down in a grimace and then he jerks the sheet away from me leaving me cold in my gray briefs on the middle of his ridiculously huge bed. Why does one little guy need a king?
I hold my elbow awkwardly with my hand, not sure what to say. I tighten my fingers until I’m probably going to end up with a bruise. I look away, even though I know it’s a sure fire way to drive him insane. Yeah. It’s noon. Yeah, I should have been looking for a job this morning, but it’s so hard. I look great on paper, but when I get to the interviews and I fuck up-miss someone’s mouth moving for a few seconds and have to ask them to repeat themselves…I don’t get hired.
No one wants to hire a deaf man. He shoves my shoulder and I don’t look at him. I catch his hands moving out of the corner of my eye, but I can’t ball up and actually face him. My stomach tight, with shaking hands, I roll off the bed. I pull on my jeans and sweater from the night before keeping my eyes on the way my fingers sink into the thick carpet. When I glance around the airy room I probably couldn’t afford in five lifetimes, he’s gone. There’s a note on the bed.
Well, guess that’s clear enough. I run a hand along my short spiky hair even though there’s no real way for it to be messed up. It takes me ten minutes to clear out my stuff. There’s not much. My calculus book weighs down my clothes as I struggle to zip my bag closed. I’m standing outside in the sunshine on the sidewalk with my duffle bag over my shoulder when my stomach growls. I start walking. The Moontipper Café is near my favorite bar, One Eyed Pete’s. I’ll get food and then spend the rest of the day drunk, like a responsible jobless, homeless man. My gut rolls again, but I ignore it. I catch a glimpse of myself in a storefront window as I stroll by in the bright sunshine. With my rumpled clothes and the dark stubble on my face I look the part. Shrugging my bag higher on my shoulder I kick a rock and lose myself in thought. I didn’t exactly love Nolan, but I enjoyed what he gave me. Security. A warm body in the night. We had nothing in common really, but I had no place to go.
This is for the best. That wasn’t fair to either of us.
But where the fuck am I going to go?
Moontipper is busy when I get there. Glancing in the front window I almost don’t go in because it’s so packed. I’m sweaty because it’s warmer than it was last night and a sweater is overkill. I pull at my collar. Sweet pancake and frying bacon smells tease my nose as I yank open the wooden door. I see a couple of guys from The Blur, the only gay bar in town, snuggled together in a booth. A dark haired man about Nolan’s height with a cute, serene face is seriously perusing the menu. He’s bookended by a well-dressed ginger with glasses and a tall bronzed brunette Adonis in paint spattered clothes wearing a sleepy smile. All three men are looking at the same menu like love drunk teenagers. I blink at them and shake my head. They’re eye candy. I don’t know their names, but the redhead hosts shows sometimes at the Blur. I wave as I pass and get smiles. I don’t usually talk to anyone when I’m out. Or anyone at all, for that matter. It’s awkward and I’m never quite sure if I’m being too loud. Uneasily I take a seat at the counter instead of in a booth. I don’t want to be here long. There’s a mug of beer somewhere with my name on it.
He I take a seat by myself at the very end of the counter, the only spot left, and snag an abandoned newspaper. I read the headlines out of habit. May starting out Hot! Hot! Hot! No shit. No real news today, I guess. A waitress comes toward me, a sunny brunette in red jeans and a red, low cut tee shirt with Emily sewn onto the breast. She’s young, or at least her pigtails make her look it. I’m having a day, so when she asks me what I want I don’t want to try to figure out how loud I should be talking.
Pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee. I type into my phone before I turn the screen to her. As she’s smiling and reading it I glance over her shoulder because the smile almost hurts to see. Nolan’s gone. I didn’t love him, but I’d come to rely on him. I rub my elbow. From my spot at the ass end of the counter I can see through the partition into the small kitchen. The cook seems to be talking to himself. He’s a portly man with gray hair shoved into a hair net. His nose is a little too big for his face and his lips curve in like maybe he’s missing a few of the more important teeth. At first I thought he was singing to the radio, but something sparkles in his hand as it’s tossed into a pan and I pay closer attention. That’s weird. The waitress taps my hand holding my phone and leaves with a happy nod to bustle off to the next customer.
“Hope you like broken glass with your bacon. Bacon and glass,” the cook laughs and bile rises up to the back of my throat while my hand squeezes tight around my phone. “I love you. Why can’t you love me? Doesn’t matter anymore. Hope you enjoy your whore.” He’s still talking, but he turns away from me to pick up a plastic bin from the counter and I lose what he’s saying. That isn’t a fucking love song.
I suck in a deep breath and watch him sprinkle a lot of cheese into the pan then fold over an omelet before he slides it out onto a plate. I’m not sure what to do for a few seconds while I struggle to breathe. I look around desperately, but all I see are people munching food or talking with friends. No one else is panicking.
No one else saw. Shit.
He puts the plate onto the stainless steel ticket counter and I watch with horror as a waitress, a stout woman one with a long, dark braid, frowns at the cook as she takes the plate along with a few others. She arranges them neatly onto a round tray and I flail mentally.
Shiiiit. She walks behind the counter and around the end near me, but my muscles are frozen. She weaves her way around a man standing in the isle, chatting with someone to a man slouched in a corner booth by himself. He seems like he’s had an even worse day than I have…more maybe last night ran into today. He’s wearing too much mascara and a black water stained silk shirt. A briefcase is slung up onto the table beside him and he’s staring at it like it holds the answers to the world while he tugs on the longish dirty blond hair falling out of its product on the top of his head. The waitress starts to unload the tray in front of him and he sits up like a live wire just sparked under his ass, smiling.
“You look nice today, Jenny. How’s your son? Still fabulous?” He smiles at her and she laughs. He has nice lips, blushed just a bit like maybe he was wearing lipstick and it wore off…or maybe he was kissing someone wearing raspberry red.
She puts her empty try under her arm, still talking, and he picks up his fork, eyes on her. I glance around wildly, but no one else is doing anything. I stumble off my stool and run toward them. His eyes widen as I barrel toward him and sweep the plates off the table. His mouth drops open, fork hovering cartoonishly in mid-air, and I have just enough time to see that he’s got a softer rounded jaw to go along with his plush lips, and a nice solid body, before I’m shoved to the ground and the wind is knocked out of me. It hurts, and the weight is a lot on my back, but I’m no Tinkerbelle. I roll us ending on top, instinctively landing a blow to the face of the man who’d taken me down. He’s yelling. It’s the cook in his greasy white apron. Then hands are on me and I struggle, but I’m man handled off. The restaurant blurs as I’m dragged away.
“Glass. There’s glass in the omelet,” I say, but I’m not sure if I’m too loud or not loud enough with the noise that’s going on. The Adonis from earlier is muscling me toward the front door and I struggle. “Glass in the omelet,” I yell this time, forcing the air out of my lungs, hoping I’ll be heard. Understanding dawns in expressive blue eyes as they meet mind across the room and the waitress who served the man begins flapping her arms at the cook who sits stupidly on the ground holding his cheek. Strong arms spin me out onto the sundrenched sidewalk and when I turn the Adonis from earlier is behind me, stony faced, but his concern is in the crinkle at corner of his eyes.
“I watched him put glass in that man’s food,” I say. He turns away from me to look back into the restaurant, and when he turns back I realize he’s been talking.
“…kind of a hero.”
I shake my head and he frowns. I would leave, but my duffle bag is inside and I need it. He turns back to check inside and the redhead he was with, the one with a sweet smile, joins us.
“…police were called,” he says to his boyfriend as the links their hands together. “…the guy that had Curtis at the bar. He’s a real piece of-” Nervously I dance from foot to foot as I look away because I caught something in a whisper that I wasn’t meant to see. All I want to do is leave. Fuck it. I’ll get the bag later. I have my wallet. I start to walk away when a hand falls on my shoulder and I shrug it off. I hate it when people touch me to get my attention. As I turn I’m readying a frown, but it’s that guy. He has his briefcase and my duffle bag over his shoulder. The mascara glimmers under his eyes in the sunlight making them pop.
“I’m Brian. Can I buy you breakfast to say thank you for saving me?” He talks with a perpetual smirk that starts up a warm interest in my stomach.
“Only if we eat somewhere else.” I start to answer in sign, then force myself to speak out loud even though it makes me uncomfortable. He’s startled for a second, watching my hands, but then he smiles. His laugh transforms his face from something seductive, but pinched with worry to pure sexy relief. His entire body loosens up and he clasps a hand to my shoulder again, but this time I don’t want to shake it off. I’m not sure what to say. My life still sucks. I just got dumped. I have nowhere to sleep tonight, but maybe I’m someone’s hero today. Blue eyes rake up and down my body and I can feel a flush starting in my chest, working up my neck to my face. He holds out a hand for me to shake and his skin is dry and warm. His grip is solid and those lips are touched with lipstick. I can see it glisten in the sun. My own tighten with curiosity. I wonder what a lipstick kiss is like?
Yeah, maybe this won’t be a total waste of a day after all.
If you enjoyed this piece pick up Threefold Love by Ki Brightly today!