Appearance is always deceptive
|A Writer's Cramp Entry:1,000 words or less:
Prompt by Sophyween 🧙♀️ : Mr. Sophy surprised me with Hamilton tickets for our anniversary - we will be going to see it in Chicago later this week and I am very excited to see the show! Write your STORY or POEM using all of the following song titles from the show, in any order, bolded for the judge - but do not make ANY reference to the show Hamilton in your piece:
the story of tonight
you'll be back
wait for it
meet me inside
take a break
one last time
At Mr. G’s Auto Garage
“Meet me inside.”
Such a simple command, but it prickled my backbone and blared the theme song to Jaws.
My face dampened with sticky anxiety; my heart ran a relay race. Was I getting fired?
The boss responded with, “Take a break from questions, Mattie,” when I asked what was up.
Gravel crunched beneath our feet as we trudged toward the steel building that housed an auto garage and Mr. G’s office.
I peeked at the man's face. It wasn’t a pleasant sight. Mr. G was an ex-boxer with a broken nose, splayed lips and one eye, always askew.
One last time my eyes searched for the gentleness I’d thought might lie underneath, but he was wearing dark glasses, the mafia enforcer kind.
“You want the short or long version?” Mr. G’s voice growled as we stepped underneath the building’s overhang.
The coolness of the garage, a metal building the size of a football field, did nothing to combat my worry. On the right, two mechanics were dismantling the tires of someone’s idea of an economy car, a VW bus with heavy metal bumpers and a super-charged engine. To my left sat the waiting area, empty as usual, except for my boss’ old green parrot. The bird wasn’t much of a talker, but it made up for it with high-pitched screeching.
“Cahhhhrrrrew,” Bobbo squawked over the din of hydraulics, air conditioning, and tools clanking against metal.
“Listen, Mattie. This is my shot," Mr. G said, removing his dark glasses so he could frown better. “And I’m not going to hear a word against it, you hear?”
“Cahhaarrrell,” Bobbo seconded.
“Mr. G, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I thought you were offering to give me the . . .”
He raised his hand like a cop demanding attention. The look he gave me narrowed his eyes into slits.“Wait for it,” he shot out in a menacing tone.
What had I done? Was it bad enough to get me fired? My knees buckled. I pictured myself swooning like some tightly corseted Victorian lady. “I gotta go to the john,” I cried out, then bolted.
Mr. G, gangster look-a-like or not, would never think to question a woman’s need to use the facilities. He stuttered a moment, “bbbbb . . . But you'll be back right? This isn’t resolved. I haven’t. . ." He stopped, either figuring out that I couldn’t leave the garage without doubling back, or else, that I wouldn’t be able to hear him over the pneumatic whatever it was, blasting ear-piercingly.
A sudden silence followed. I wanted to grind to a halt and look, but I knew that Frankie and Joe were probably just google-eyed over the bit of drama they’d witnessed. It never took much to entertain them.
I kept my forward momentum, pushed in through the yellow door, the one with the big sunflower in the center. The men had to use the room with the black door, the one that smelled so bad, you didn’t want to pass by closely.
Inside the woman’s WC everything was neat and fresh-smelling. A vase of tulips sat on the azure-blue tiles of the counter. Mr. G got the flowers from a bag lady, who traded them each day for a glazed doughnut and an apple.
The bag lady – Honey. Oh, no! Was that what this was about? I’d complained to Mr. G that Honey wasn’t leaving after she got her food. I’d been worried she might be up to no good. It wasn’t like she was waiting to use the bathroom or chatting with the men. She was just hanging around -- for hours.
It was obvious that Mr. G had a soft spot for her. Why would he care if the lady’s restroom had flowers? Besides, Honey probably didn’t even buy them, probably dragged them out of a nearby dumpster. But Mr. G didn’t seem to care about that, or that Honey was hanging around. In fact, I'd once noticed his lip curving upward the moment she appeared, making him look almost friendly.
I used the facilities, washed my hands, sighed, then pushed out through the yellow sunflower door. Once more the men stopped to stare, glanced over at Mr. G, and suddenly made a pretense of working hard. But Mr. G didn’t notice. His eyes, still unsheathed by the mafia glasses, were watching me as I approached.
“Look,” he said, “I’ll make it short. I’m going to . . .”
“Fire me?” I gasped, feeling wobbly knees again.
“Fire?” he gasped, shook his head. “Why would I do that? You’re a good addition. You make everything clean, bright, friendly. Nah, what I have to tell you is . . . well, it’s the story of tonight.”
Whatever Bobbo was trying to get across, it couldn’t have been any more puzzling than Mr. G’s frightening bellows. But at least I wasn’t getting fired . . . Wait, what did he mean about TONIGHT? Was the boss asking me out? A tidal wave of nausea rolled over me. I barely heard Mr. G's next words.
“I didn’t want you to . . . I mean you . . . well, uh, you see . . . I invited Honey out, just for a burger.”
“Honey . . . the bag lady?”
“No," he bellowed. "I mean, don’t call her that. Uh, it’s why she’s been here a lot. She and I, we’ve been talking.”
Mr. G’s face reddened; his eyes shut; his hands began to shake. Was he afraid of me, of what I’d think?
“But that’s great,” I said. “I’m happy that . . .”
“Thought I’d better explain about . . . Uh, I know you got invoices to do, but I wanted to . . .” Mr. G didn’t finish the sentence, just turned and strode off.
I paused a moment before I headed off to do invoices. What I saw, I could hardly believe. My gruff old boss was not only smiling, but whistling an old Elvis Presley song -- the one about fools falling in love.