April 1 begins Camp Nanowrimo, the summer version of my November madness, with a little flexibility thrown in. My goal this go around is to write 30 short stories (flash fiction) in 30 days. To whet your whistle, here’s one I’d written previously. Enjoy!
DINNER AND A SHOW
Sharp heel clicks on the restaurant floor, followed by the shuffling steps of one being led to execution. A proffered chair squeaks and is ignored in favor of another pulled out roughly. Offers of wine frostily denied. Sweet tea, no lemon. Just water, please. A silent glare over the menus, lost on the recipient, but noted by the waiter who hastily retreats. Silent, tension-laden moments, broken by the delicate placement of bread and drink on clean white table linens. Orders made, terse response regarding salad dressing on one side, forced joviality about the specials on the other.
Left alone again, bread is cut with more force than necessary as the accusation is finally aired. Other diners either flinch or perk up their ears at the drama unfolding. Murmured bets are placed by the waitstaff on the outcome, their own waiter placing a fiver on drinks being thrown, hoping to recoup his certain lack of tip. An embarrassed entreaty for quiet tones is disregarded as the tirade continues.
Past promises, broken; future happiness, dashed; present dalliance, uncovered. Proclamation of innocence and artfully earnest explanation interrupted only by meal delivery. Stony silence juxtaposed with quick talking and attempted cajoling as food is pushed around plates, mostly uneaten. Account given, a lull falls as each side surveys the other.
Muffled gasps from nearby tables when insurmountable evidence is brought forth. Stunned silence and a look of panic is quickly replaced by attempts at backpedaling. These, met only with disdain, finally morph into contrition as admission is made. The lid on the wronged party’s anger metaphorically flies, followed by the literal flying of the sweet tea, no lemon, into the offender’s face.
The suddenly vacated chair falls over, causing the all-too-attentive bystanders to jolt. Shoes again echo on their path to the door, punctuating the sputters of one drenched in drink. The opposite chair moves backward just as quickly, but remains upright as its occupant fumbles for cash. Money is thrown on the table and the second diner follows the first, calling out, unheard through the already closing door. Shoved open again, the door hangs ajar for a moment, as though allowing the tension in the restaurant to exit as well, before quietly falling shut, signaling the end of the public confrontation.
The waiter is already at the table, righting the fallen chair before collecting the bills that barely cover the cost of the uneaten meal. By the time the dry table linen is laid, discussion of the spectacle is winding down. No one will even make the connection when news of the murder is made public.