FOR THE PRICE OF TWO FORTUNES
by William Gensburger
The jerk, who had just entered the coffee shop before us, kept insisting that the door should be shut; a slight breeze was striking him on the back of the neck, and this greatly upset him. I felt like grabbing him by the collar and throwing him against the wall because it was an unreasonable request delivered as a whiny angst. As it was, the interior of the coffee shop was overheated, and the slight breeze that filtered in through the crack of an opening, was a welcome relief.
The others inside, paid little attention to the man; they were people still hung-over from the night before, having stumbled in to get some protection from the blinding light outside, or to eat the miserably cheap food to kill another hour of this drawn-out afternoon.
There were three of us back then, who had walked in behind the whiner: Alec, Jill and I; all we wanted was some lunch, some privacy, and some way to spend the afternoon without having to think. It still hurt to think about things.
The whiner turned to Jill and again insisted the door be closed. Jill turned to Alec who, in turn, glanced at me, his eyes rolling skyward. I ignored the request however; as it was my misfortune to be wedged under the doorway, I felt that it should be my choice whether the door should stay open.
Moments later the jerk and his wife were seated at a table right by us. The waitress came over to them and asked what they wanted. Her name was Ruby, and she had pinched between her teeth, a wrinkled cigarette. But he only wanted the door closed; the breeze was bothering him. Ruby told him that she wanted to take their order, not hear complaints. The jerk’s wife looked at her husband hunched over in his seat, eyes scanning the menu like a vulture awaiting a prospective meal to die, before he would order. He had the right attitude for the place, but also a lousy set of table manners. So they ordered the three-egg special, and we watched from the door as Ruby left, a good two inches of cigarette ash hanging on. The jerk turned back his stare upon us.
“Would you mind closing the door?” he said. “The breeze is hitting me right on the neck.”
“Certainly,” I replied, neither moving nor intending to move. He stared for a moment in case something would happen, then turned to his wife and muttered something. She glanced up at us then screwed her face into a sour expression and muttered something back to him.
And then we were seated, the three of us right next to him, and someone else had taken our place at the door. He looked up at them and, after a few moments of deliberation, stood up and requested that they close the door because of the breeze.
“But we like the breeze,” the man at the door said. “Its hotter than hell in here.”
To this the jerk looked around the room, straight at us, and with a smile asked aloud: “Do you want the door open? Do you like the breeze?”
“Yes,” we said in unison, as others also chimed in the same answer.
“Then why don’t you eat outside?” His wife muttered into her table napkin, unable to make eye contact.
“Then why don’t you eat at home?” I countered, to which she looked even further away.
“Asshole,” Alec muttered. “Such a jerk.”
Ruby came over and took our orders, and we sat there listening to the idiot’s near-silent muttering before starting up our own conversation. We each lit up a cigarette, and each sipped at the water that had been placed before us.
“That’s Venice for you,” someone said from further back in the room.
The food came, and by this time the jerk had nothing further to say. He was a fly and the coffee shop was the closest thing he could find to a flytrap. That’s Venice for you, I thought, stuffing a forkful of eggs into my mouth and watching Alec and Jill do the same.
“Great eggs,” Jill said. “I’ll bet the chicken laid them like this.”
“Imported chickens,” Alec said.
Outside a cop car cruised by on the lookout for whatever it is that cops look for in Venice. And on the beach in front, a small group stood, arms raised in the air, singing almost silently in front of a homemade sign which proclaimed: Jesus loves you so much it hurt.
This excerpt is from the book of 6 short stories titled: FOR THE PRICE OF TWO FORTUNES.
A Beta Reader said “Funny to sad, well told tales that make an interesting read.” ~ Sarah Hartman
The Ebook is available on Amazon Kindle at the low price of 99 cents only.