Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rainbow Clothes

He only became aware of the problem when the washing machine didn’t fill up with water.

“What the-” he swore. “No water? Really? And I thought this town couldn’t get any worse.” The only other water sources were Rainbow River and the fishing pond, and he was not about to wash - no, soil - his clothes in such dirty water. Then, it clicked. The gas station. It sells bottled water. He left his clothes in the machine and sprinted out the door, hoping no one else had had the same idea.

A soft ringing signaled his entrance into the Exxon gas station. Dashing to the back where the drinks were sold, he was confronted with the sad image of a refrigerator stripped of its contents. Just like the town, there wasn’t a single drop of clean water.

There were only the river and pond left. A simple coin flip decided his fate. Rainbow River it is. After a couple minutes of searching, he found a bucket. Bucket in hand, he sprinted out of the gas station, eyes fixed on the chaos unfolding around him. People were rushing in all directions, either hauling full buckets of water back to their residences or trying to take back the water that had been stolen from them. Clothes were scattered everywhere from when people had dropped them. It was worse than when the power went out.

Despite the cool fall breeze, his shirt was already drenched in sweat. He’d have to wash that too. When he finally arrived at the river, he began scouting out a spot with the least amount of oil slick.

“Hey, can you help me?”

He turned around sharply. It was someone he had never seen before, although that honestly didn’t surprise him. “Who are you and what do you want?” he quipped.

“I’m Henry Johnson. I dropped my book in the river. It’s really important to me, but I can’t afford to get my clothes dirty.” He pointed to a small book floating amidst the sludge.

Who does this guy think he is? Asking me to retrieve his book for him like that. Lucien was about to say no and walk off, but Henry’s simultaneously distressed and hopeful expression made him consider otherwise.

Ugh, alright. I need to wash these clothes anyway, what’s the big deal. “Fine. I will. But you owe me one.” Wading into the murky water, he gingerly picked up the book. He could barely make out the title, it was so ruined.

“Here’s your book,” Lucien said, handing it to Henry.

“Oh my gosh, thank you!” he said, putting the book back into his pocket. “I’m so sorry about your clothes.”

Lucien looked down. His pants and shoes were soiled beyond repair, but no matter. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

When he arrived back at the Victorian, full bucket in hand, he went straight to the public washing machines to wash his clothes.

Except they weren’t there.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Silver Spoon

He awakens to a loud rapping at the door.

“Mr. Marr? Are you home?”

“Whoizit?” he groans groggily, rubbing the sleep and the alcohol from his eyes.

“Laura Andersen with Southern Living. Are you free to talk?”

It’s too early for this shit. What the hell does she want? Reluctantly, he drags himself out of bed and swings the door open. Before him stands a well-dressed, bespectacled reporter and her photographer.

“Sorry to bother you this morning, Mr. Marr. I’m with the magazine Southern Living and we’re doing a feature on this town and its residents. May I come in and ask you a few questions?”

Begrudgingly, he resigns himself to his fate and lets them enter. The reporter thanks him and begins surveying the apartment’s interior.

“Do you mind if we take pictures of your place?” she asks. “A person’s home is an extension of their personality.” Ms. Mathews always reminds us of that.

“Sure, I guess,” he mutters, grabbing a container of off-brand yogurt from the fridge and parking himself on a bar stool, hunched over.

“Excellent,” she exclaims. She begins asking Lucien questions: how long he’s been living in this small Southern town, what he does, who he knows.

He impulsively turns a silver coin over in his hand before responding. “I’ve been living here since college. I inherited this place and everything in it from my parents. I do odd jobs around town for money, but I don’t actually know anyone here that well.”

Furiously scribbling away in her notebook, she ambles around the room before plopping herself on the couch. Are there any cushions on this thing? She glances around the apartment again. It’s all...grey. Grey walls, grey furniture. Expensive, like that dusty crystal chandelier amidst it all...but grey. Yet nothing in here looks comfortable. Case in point, this couch. She’s wondering how to make this all sound good for the magazine when she’s suddenly jolted from her thoughts by a loud “Hey!”

“I didn’t say you could take pictures of me!”

“Sorry, sir, but Ms. Andersen wants candid photos of you for the magazine.”

“My apologies, Mr. Marr. It won’t happen again.” She gets up from the couch and glances over the photographer’s shoulder. It’s a nice shot of Lucien with a silver spoon of yogurt in his mouth. “That’ll work for the magazine.” She turns her attention back to him. “Could you elaborate more on how you got this apartment?”

“My parents,” he remarks, deadpan.

They’re obviously not very close, she thinks, running her finger through the thick layer of dust ringing an empty marble vase.

A loud buzzing breaks the silence. It’s Ms. Mathews, reminding the reporters they need to interview at least three residents or they’ll face severe consequences. Laura thanks Lucien for his time and leaves the apartment, hoping to catch a resident who hasn’t already been claimed.

As soon as she leaves, he locks the door and downs a glass of whiskey. It’s only 8:50, but so what? He flings the curtains shut (That damn photographer had to open them) and crawls back into bed, waiting for the day to end.