Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gold Rock Diner--- a little slice of fiction

It’ll always happen when you least expect it. You could be drinking a slurpee from seven-eleven on your porch or ironing a silk blouse for your second cousin twice removed’s anniversary party or it could happen after you were feeding four stray cats in an alleyway that you had named, Gumby, Lotus, Bolt and Chewy or you could be reloading a Smith and Wessen revolving pistol you found wrapped in a pink napkin in the Marilyn Monroe booth of the Gold Rock diner. If it was the last one then you were me.

I had never touched a gun until this second. I had never felt the cold metal in my palm, I had never pulled the pin back, I had never reloaded a semi-automatic weapon in my life until now.

My name is Olivia Bakersfield-Stein. I live in a one bedroom apartment in Bloomington, Indiana. I have a pet hamster and a Singer 347. It is blue and white and the package says it is a stylist sewing machine. I am no stylist but I know how to sew an apron. I sew aprons for the craft fair. People have asked if I make a living at this. I have one answer, No. It is one of the many hats I wear.

At night I am a waitress at the Gold Rock Diner. The walls are yellow with giant screen printed black and gold necklaces. There is a machine in the corner with a claw. For one dollar you can navigate the claw in an attempt to make it pick up a prize. The prizes are cheap heart earrings and a Barry Manilow 2 song E.P. Chances are you won’t win. The only person who’s ever won since I’ve worked here was Connie Bradshaw, a seventy-three year old state bingo champ and I’d say she was just lucky. If you told Connie Bradshaw that the woman serving her corn beef hash and fried potatoes would be polishing a gun on her kitchen floor that evening, she’d have told you, you were crazy.

It always happens when you aren’t waiting for it to happen. A watched pot never boils, a stitch in time, saves nine. Scratch the second one. It never happens when you are desperate for excitement. It only happens when you have given up on excitement, when the only thing remotely close to excitement in your life is finishing the last stitch on a gingham apron with a penguin appliqué. Trust me, I know from experience.

As I am polishing the weapon, there comes a knock at my door, first one, then another, then there are five million explosive pounding knocks and I hide the gun in back of the refrigerator (the last place I think anyone would look) before I answer.

He is sweating and his lips are vampire red. His hair is slicked back like a young Marlon Brando and he is wearing the kind of designer clothing I’ve only seen on television. He says, “I’m missing something very important to me and I suspect that you are the one who took it.” I know he’s talking about the gun so I get nervous and lie. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I say. I am still wearing the white dress with buttons, the uniform from the Gold Rock Diner, I cleverly cover my name badge with my palm but the guy thinks I am groping myself and winks at me. “You like to party?” he asks. I laugh. “Do I look like I party?” he laughs now. It is a saccharine laugh from inside his gut. “Did you hear me the first time or do I have to repeat myself?’ he asks. “I don’t party.” I yell. “I want to know if you have something of mine because if that’s the case, I’m going to need it back and I have no time for your girlish seduction.” He said.

”Come in.” I say, “Look around..”

I decided immediately that I would never repeat the details of this event to anyone, not even Harold. Especially not Harold. Since Mom passed, the last thing he needs is to worry about me, Olivia, his half-Jewish, half-sister in Bloomington, Indiana. Plus, I remembered my promise to him, when I moved here, to the apartment facing the alleyway, that I would never open the door to a stranger, especially a man. Especially not a man who suspects I am holding onto a gun I found in the Marilyn Monroe booth of the Gold Rock Diner.

The man with the slicked back hair swept the room with a glance. The glance was far reaching as if he had X-ray vision and his eyes paused a hair too long when they met the refrigerator. I swallowed hard, bit down on my lip and tried with all my might to re-direct his attention.

“How about I make you a cup of my world-famous coffee?” I said

He didn’t answer, just knelt down, peeled back the lace sheet and the hand-stitched rose comforter and looked under my bed, using his right hand to feel around. He came back up, looked me square in the eyes and then down at my chest, where I managed to pull off the plastic name tag that said Olivia. I could feel the pin digging into the palm of my hand which had begun to feel clammy. He continued to stare. I stared back, thinking that if I broke his glance he might think I was dishonest.

“Alright then” he finally said, cutting into the silence with his gravely cigarette stained voice. “I believe you but I must let you know that something very important to me was left somewhere very important to you and if you find that thing which I value so much you must return it to me without haste.”

I nodded, not knowing what else to do. He smiled a slippery smile and I could see that one of his molars was gold and that he had about three black fillings. I liked a man who made oral hygiene a priority and I admired his dedication in hunting down his weapon but I was not about to put an AK 47 in the hands of a stranger. I was not about to give up my second amendment, the right to bear firearms just so some lunatic could have his gun back.

He slipped a business card into my sweaty hand (the one I wasn’t jabbing with the name-pin) and closed the door crisply behind him without a word. I peered out the window and watched a black Cadillac peel out of the alleyway as the cat’s ears perked up in interest.
I locked the door in a hurry and looked down at the black card with gold lettering that read:

He didn’t look like an Alvin to me, nor did he appear to be someone in the “Upholstery business” but I couldn’t imagine that someone would go to the trouble of creating business cards for a phony business so I took it at face value. Still, I had no intention of returning the gun.

No comments: