I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a short piece about unlikely friends.
Cat was cute, like a hobo spider.
The first time I witnessed her arachnid shuffle, she was crossing the avenue between my parents’ store and her uncle’s upholstery shop, on a quest for smokes.
I checked her I.D. Walters, Trinity. She had barely turned eighteen. “Aren’t you a little young to start smoking?” I asked.
“No. You’ve got that backwards. I’m too young to quit.” She winked at me with heavily darkened eyelashes. “Just the right age for starting.” She smacked the Camels against her hip, removed one and used a pair of hog ring pliers from her back pocket to strip the filter off. She put the smoke to her lips and then pulled it away. “Don’t freak. I’m not going to light it in here.” Her bravado was neutralized by a cluster of brown tobacco strands stuck to her glossed lips, ejected by the torn end of the abused cigarette. At first, the look was humorous, but the longer she went on without noticing, the more my imagination saw a giant anchovy in denim. My fear of conflict outweighed my stomach’s frailty, so I simply pointed to the corner of my mouth, hoping that she would catch the hint.
“Oh shit, yuck.” She wiped her lips with her sleeve. “Sorry.”
“No apology necessary, Trinity.” I said politely, almost bravely.
“Alright.” She tilted her head to view my name tag more effectively. “Rodney.” She straightened abruptly. “You’re kind of a formal thing there, aren’t ya, with your bow tie and your forgiveness.”
“A regular necktie might get caught in the hotdog rotisserie. And what’s wrong with being polite.” I felt slightly defensive, so I shifted the focus back to her. “If I may ask, where did you learn to run like that?” I shuffled my feet swiftly, arms out, mimicking her street crossing.
“High school, running from the mean girls, before I dropped out …”