Looking for something to read? My new publisher, Burning Book Press, has a showcase of free fiction and I’ve some ne’er before seen works up! This one is a bit I wrote quite some time ago and was inspired by a tweet from Remittance Girl about describing a hooker as a “piece of strange”, if I remember correctly…
Murky windows, time-stained linoleum, chipped counters and flaking paint; those features and more made the diner the type I would normally avoid. Vera sat across from me, one of her handmade hats perched crooked atop her blue-black hair, staring into her cup of weak coffee. The lone waitress wore old fashioned stockings, the seams zigzagging up her calves, a run streaking over her ankle. Odd faded bruises decorated her forearms and her personality grated both of us.
We were waiting. He was late. Or so we thought. We didn’t know what he looked like, or even his name. Only that we were to meet him here. The dingy gray of the floor revealed the original mustard yellow color in irregular geometric shapes. The large rectangle might have once been covered by a cigarette machine. As my nerves writhed I wished with the pained craving of an addict for a smoke.
Vera tapped a dark, narrow cigarillo against a lacquered case. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I glanced up, my thumbnail continuing to pick absently at the fracture in the table laminate.
“Yes.” The mass of snakes that made up my intestines twisted again and I forced my jaw to relax. “I need to do this. I need to know.”
My friend nodded and drew on the dark cylinder of tobacco, the end flaring into a orange orb that winked at me, her eyes drooping in enjoyment. I swallowed and glanced at the ghost of the cigarette machine, wishing for the reassuring volume of pungent smoke in my lungs.
“Are you sure he’s coming?” The longer he kept us waiting the more I wanted to run, to race the echo of my footsteps until my sides ripped with pain.
“He’ll be here. He was quite interested in the proposition.”