The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Monday, October 26, 2009

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FFF #7 (Flash Fiction Entry)

Here are links to the earlier efforts to participate in the Flash Fiction Essays:

First Effort
Second Effort
Third Effort

And now, onto this week's (finished version) of the show...

Chapter 4 - Give a Man A Hand

On the sidewalk, fallen between the cracks was a stray reflection of light that caught my attention. It was a key. Shiny and nickel-plated, the sunlight made it glimmer intently. As I reached down to pick up the key, I could see that the face of the key had a cut-out, embossed logo for Volkswagen. Clearly the key was not for a recent model, because there was nary a bit of plastic or vinyl on the key itself. Instead, it was from a vintage VW, a Beetle, by my best estimate, from the early 1960s.

"Damn," I thought, still feeling aggravated and out of sorts from Javier's poking fun towards me, "this has got to be John's key." He was the only one around here with an old Bug. His beetle was top notch too. It was a deep, brick red, in that special color seen only in the 1960s with a pale grey interior. Beautiful, and charming all at once. John, was one of the co-owners of the bar I just left. He was a friendly sort of fellow, with the perfect demeanor for running a bar... he was able to encourage people to talk (and hence, drink) within minutes of sitting in the tavern. His efforts truly created a family-like atmosphere.

With an air or resignation I turned, and walked back towards the bar. Once inside, I scanning the place, but I did not see John. Reluctantly, I sat back down by my poet-"friend", Javier, and asked the college kid who was currently running the bar for another beer, and also requested that he go tell John, I needed so see him.

"Haven't seen him since noon." said the kid.

I turned back and by this time, Javier was chatting up a young co-ed sitting next to him, and was no longer aware of anything else at that point. It was odd that John wasn't around during the afternoon happy hour.

I sat there a few minutes, nursing on my beer and gnawing on the stem of my pipe, when suddenly the front door of the bar was thrown open violently so it slammed back against the wall. A strange man dressed as Carmen Miranda walked into the bar and demanded to know who had taken his pet iguana.

I rolled my eyes and laughed at the sight. The "Carmen" character was actually an indigent person who lived on the streets around campus and was widely known by virtually everyone as the "Bottle Dude." Friendly to a fault and willing to make a spectacle out of himself from the odds and ends he found laying about town, Bottle Dude, was also stubborn as a mule and resisted all attempts at helping him out of homelessness. A man of routine, during virtually every waking moment before 4pm, Bottle Dude could be seen pushing a rusted, decrepit old shopping cart he obtained long ago from the now defunct A & P on Woodward Avenue. Walking constantly, all day long through the city, the nearby neighborhoods and through campus, he scouring streets, alleyways, ditches, and garbage bins for empty soda and beer bottles that could be returned. Thanks mostly to the Bottle Deposit Law, each bottle he collected was worth 10 cents a piece and had to be accepted in any condition at any convenience stores.

Bottle Dude did pretty well for himself with this routine, and was able to keep himself amply supplied with beer, other booze, and cigarettes. Kids on campus even informally adopted him, and would save bottles for him at specific locations each morning.

Laughing and joking about his new "Carmen Miranda" get up, most of it from the toss pile behind the Sav-A-Lot Grocery down the block, something seemed a bit too frenetic and animated in Bottle Dude's interactions. While always a cut-up, his behavior seemed unusally forced and almost manic. I kept watching.

"Sh*t, yeah, you shuoulda seen all the f*ck*ng sh*t I've seen and been seeing over there, its not right, and I should show Louie what I found for him." said Bottle Dude to no one in particular.

Louie was his imagined pet iguana. Apparently at one time, when he was a kid, he saw an iguana. Apparently, during the mental break that resulted in his becoming homeless 20 years ago, he conjured up the notion that the iguana he saw was his pet, and has held on to that belief to this day.

"You know, don't ya, that Louie don't normally get meat because he don't like sh*t like that, but today's hes gonna be surprised!"

Bottle Dude proceeded to reach into the pocket of his greasy, worn jacket, and pulled out a mangled, bloody item I did not recognize immediately. He looked around and noticed I was the only person paying any attention to his antics. He ambled slowly over.

"Lookee, I found this here for Louie today. It was in the alley on the ground. Someone must of lost it."

Only as he rolled it around on the counter, did I actually see what it was. With great alarm, I saw that what Bottle Dude had found, was... a human thumb!

(There. This is the final version.)

PipeTobacco

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