MM Flash Fiction #1: Untitled
2.) Reckless enthusiasm
3.) Terry Burns
4.) Brandon Carr
5.) Betty Doyle
Brandon took off his white apron. He gathered up the quick sandwiches he’d made from the deli meat and cheeses, picked up some fruit that would have to be tossed the next day if no one bought them, and two bottles of water.
“Where are you going?” A customer stood at the deli counter, staring at him, her eyes bugging out of her head. “Where are you going?” she asked again, emphasis on each word.
“I’m on my lunch break right now.”
“Well, I need some of that ham you’ve got there. Two pounds, sliced thin. I need a pound of turkey, also sliced thin and some Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese in those little squares, you know? Why aren’t you writing all this down?”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I can’t help you right now. But I’m sure Betty would be happy to.”
The older woman, curly hair silver with age, wearing an apron similar to Brandon’s, stepped smartly behind the counter.
“Yes, ma’am, would you mind repeating your order and I’ll take it down and get what you need?”
Brandon slipped out of his little grocery store before the customer could retaliate, or even throw something at him. She had money, that was clear by her attitude alone, never mind her expensive clothes and fine jewelry. And in his experience you either pleased the rich to no end, or they hated you forever, no matter how small the infraction.
In the park across the street he sat at a picnic table just vacated by a man in a dark suit and polished leather shoes. Brandon felt out of place in his brown corduroy pants and white cotton shirt, sleeves rolled up past his elbows. His brown loafers he’d bought used from the store around the corner and he smelled of the meat he’d been working with all day.
Sitting on a low brick wall beside his table was a young man, eyes closed, mouth curved up into a smile as he played a bow across his cello with an ease and enthusiasm Brandon loved to watch every afternoon.
When the lunch crowd of men in power suits and women in their own fancy skirts and high heels began to filter away, some of them leaving behind the detritus of their lunches and none of them tipping the musician, the cello music came to a slow stop. The young man opened his eyes, blinking them in the bright afternoon sunlight.
Brandon placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“How did it go?”
Glancing down into the instrument case by his side, “not very well,” Terry sighed. “Five whole dollars. That’ll get me far.”
Terry fingered the whole in the knee of his jeans. It had gotten bigger since Brandon had last seen it.
“I’ve been saving up,” Brandon began, as he laid out their lunch, two sandwiches side by side, two apples and the two bottles of water.
“No. No, I told you already, I don’t need your charity. I’ll survive. This is what I chose to do with my life. I knew I wouldn’t make much but-“
“Even if I asked you to marry me?” Brandon asked, cutting him off.
“-now I’ve chosen this life I’ve got to… wait.” Terry gently leaned the cello against the picnic table and stared at his apple. “What did you just ask me?” He turned his bright, luminous eyes toward Brandon.
Brandon dug into his pocket and produced two plain silver rings. “I saved up. I… I want to make you happy. Forever. Neither of us have much, but I don’t need more than just you.” Brandon was flustered with having to reveal his feelings, his face flushing as he held out his hand with the two rings on his palm.
There was a loud squeal and then, somehow, Terry was in his lap, their mouths fused together in a searing kiss. “Yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes!” Terry clasped his hand over Brandon’s, trapping the rings between both their palms.
Beside them, the cello slipped and fell on its back in the grass, neither of them noticing when a passerby picked it up and set it back into the case with a smile.