Wednesday, February 15, 2017

52 - Sneek peek - The Slavador Deli - A story

NOTE: This is a sample of the story that appears as the closing piece of the book "Funny Sexy Nanobots."

“Hurry, Paul, you’ll be late for work.”

Paul stumbled groggily into the kitchen, bumping into the doorway, his eyes half closed.

“And where did you get these cigarettes?” Janey shouted, pulling a half-empty pack from his shirt pocket. Paul are you smoking again?” She looked intently at him. “Paul!”

“Huh? Mmgh, what’s wrong with me these days? I just can’t get going in the morning.”

“Paul! Why do you have cigarettes?”

“Huh?” Paul looked genuinely confused. “What? I have no idea. You know I don’t smoke."

“Then why do you have them?”

“Janey, I don’t know. I don’t know where they came from.”

Janey gave Paul a sideways, questioning look, and tossed the cigarettes in the garbage. “Something strange is going on,” she said.

Paul tried desperately to think, but his eyes closed again and he rested his head in his arms on the table.

“Here, I cooked you some eggs.”

Paul sat up with a start.

“Paul, maybe you should get some time off. We haven’t taken a vacation in a year and a half.”

Paul groaned and tried rub some life into his eyes. “This is a bad time,” he said. “If I want to be manager of the new deli they’re opening in April, I gotta kill myself for ‘em a little longer.”

Sometimes he couldn’t believe it. He had worked at the deli for, how long now? Thirteen years? Fifteen? Been an Assistant Manager for five, anyway.

“But you’re so tired these days,” Janey said, gently brushing his hair from his eyes. “And you’ll only have to work harder if you become manager of the new one.”

She reached out and opened the fridge, grabbing the carton of milk inside.

“No milk, please. Just coffee,” he said. She stood up and pulled a coffee mug from the cupboard.

“Here, take these eggs away, too,” he said. “I can’t eat them.”

She squinted at him, trying to make sense of his mood. She picked up the plate of eggs.

“No,” he said, “it ain’t working so much. I mean, I felt better last night than I do now. Really, I feel like I haven’t slept a wink. I feel like I’ve been out all night. That’s really how I feel.”

Paul was an unusual case; the most brilliant musician the University of Minnesota had seen in years, wildly talented, erratically brilliant, but most notably, personally volatile. All this was in the past, though, a decade and a half in the past. All that he still had from those times was Janey. Sweet Janey. She had stuck with him when everyone else, all his other friends, had left. They moved to New York or L.A. or, in one case, London. He began working at the deli just to make ends meet while moonlighting nearly every night on the piano at a local bar.

For all his diverse talent and promise, his music of choice had always been jazz, and not big fancy jazz-band jazz, which he had received such glowing reviews for while at the University, but musty old piano-in-the-corner-of-the-bar jazz. So that is what he did for two years, without incident. Everyone thought he had found himself. They thought he finally had what he wanted.

A few of his friends quietly shook their heads when the topic of his blown chance with the Minnesota Symphony came up.

That was a story all its own; after playing brilliantly with the symphony for over a year, receiving wonderful reviews, he actually blew up during a concert. He threw the jacket of his tux at the conductor and stormed off stage.

So much for his ‘career,’ everyone thought.

There were murmurings among his friends that he had deliberately sabotaged his career, that he planned the blow up.

Paul didn’t care what anyone thought. He had Janey and he had the piano in the corner of the bar.

For two years everything seemed fine. He worked at the deli, played piano, and made love to Janey.

Then, one night, Boom! He knocked the piano over, trashed the bar, and yelled until he lost his voice.

End note: This story appears in full as the closing piece of the book "Funny Sexy Nanobots."

-Peter Wick
February 15, 2017