Sat, 07/31/2021 - 17:34

The text was workshopped during Travis Holland's workshop What You Know: Writing Our Way Into the World

"Can I get you anything else, Bear Boy?" inquired the waiter of the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall café with an ill-contained smirk. 

Bear Boy, a regular at the establishment, shook his head absentmindedly and continued to stare at his lonely cup of espresso. The waiter shrugged and resumed his place on the chair behind the bar. At two thirty in the afternoon, Bear Boy was his only customer. He struggled to understand young and able-bodied people like Bear Boy, who stayed idle during the work day. Though rather short and a bit too slender, Bear boy was almost handsome with his reddish hair and freckled baby nose. Today's outfit consisting of smart black pants and a white polo shirt, paired with his gelled hair smoothed to the left side, gave him a relatively important look. It was obvious that he was up to one of his usual endeavors, chasing the wind. The bouquet of fresh daffodils rested on the table next to his coffee cup was another proof of that. In his early twenties, Bear Boy still lived with his parents, plenty decent people. His father owned the pet store two blocks down the street and his mother was a nurse downtown. They had even given him a Honda to drive around, until he crashed it one night under odd circumstances. The waiter had gotten an earful about the occasion throughout most of the following week. If his own children turned out anything like that, he was convinced he would throw them out of the house and would do so for their own good. But he had to accept that not all parents had the same values.

As soon as the waiter took a seat, the door flew open and another neighborhood bachelor, Petey, walked in. His posture was slightly hunched, as usual, and he sported the stained overalls of a car mechanic. Petey occasionally ended up spending his afternoons at the café with Bear Boy, but at the moment he was gainfully employed. He nodded at the waiter and made a beeline for Bear Boy. 

"You still here? She ain't coming, bro. Let's go now."

Bear Boy didn't move a muscle.

"I told you that one won't work, didn't I? Too stuck-up."

Bear Boy cringed his tiny nose, but remained silent.

"Have you swallowed your tongue, man?" Petey shook Bear Boy's shoulders and finally got a reaction.

"Quit that! You're gonna break my bones, Petey!"

"Finally! I feared you've gone mute. Now, pick up your stuff and let's keep movin'!" Then Petey's eyes suddenly fell on the bouquet. "You won't be needing those." 

Petey snatched the flowers and attempted to dispose of them in the nearby trash can, but Bear Boy leaped up and grabbed them out of his hands before he could complete this act. 

"What are you doing? Do you know how much this bunch costs?" he hissed.

"I know no such thing. But knowing you, I doubt it you paid a dime for it."

Solemnly, Bear Boy acknowledged: "That's right. I didn't."

"Now, let's skip this place. Remember, you never wait for a woman more than five minutes. Petey's law. Besides, the old man over there is staring at us." Petey lowered his voice, but the waiter still heard him, which caused the man to commence zealously wiping at a dusty wine class with a cloth napkin. He had to admit that watching the scenes his customers occasionally bestowed upon him was one of the few perks of this job. 

"You'll find another sugar mamma, be sure of it. She's not the only one. Besides, the loss is entirely hers. Just look at you." Petey said, unconvincingly. 

"When is life gonna smile at me, Petey? When am I gonna find my perfect girl?"

"One with lots of cash that's also gonna fall for you ain't so easy to find." Petey shook with laughter. 

"Quit that! Wouldn't you wanna be married into money, Petey?"

"I say, that won't be too bad. But I doubt such a thing is gonna happen to someone ordinary like me," concluded Petey, thoughtfully.

"Well, you work hard at things and wait, till they happen. Someday they will, if you set your mind on them."

"What about that girl, what was her name? The granddaughter of the old librarian lady?" suddenly remembered Petey. "She any good? Her old man is loaded."

"Who? Missy? Nah, she is too young. I don't wanna have to deal with the cops again," cut him off Bear Boy.

"Garbage. She goes to school with my cousin. That means she should be eighteen around this year. So, what do you say?"

"Fine. If you say so, let's do it," concluded Bear Boy and grabbed the flowers that were once again resting at the table. "Where did she live, again?"

Bear Boy and Petey headed towards the door.

"Wait, you haven't paid for the espresso!" the waiter shouted after them.

"Oh, my bad. Can you put that on my tab?" Bear Boy requested, his smile deploying all of his charm.

"You know I can't do this anymore, Bear Boy. The Boss won't allow it."

"Can you put it on my old people's tab, then?"

"Your parents haven't gotten a tab here, Bear Boy."

"Fine. Petey, do you have a few dollars? I'll pay you back." Bear Boy's face stretched in a silly grimace. "Pinky promise."

Petey reluctantly pulled out a few dollar bills from the front pocket of his overalls and threw them on the counter. 

Aleksandra Tepedelenova McCrone is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, US, and the The University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria. She writes fiction and poetry and has published several short stories. Aleksandra resides with her family in California, where she splits her time between working at a regional government agency and volunteering to raise awareness of pediatric cancer issues.

EK_Logo.jpg THE ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION and VAGABOND, Bulgaria's English Monthly, cooperate in order to enrich the English language with translations of contemporary Bulgarian writers. Every year we give you the chance to read the work of a dozen young and sometimes not-so-young Bulgarian writers that the EKF considers original, refreshing and valuable. Some of them have been translated in English for the first time. The EKF has decided to make the selection of authors' work and to ensure they get first-class English translation, and we at VAGABOND are only too happy to get them published in a quality magazine. Enjoy our fiction pages.
Issue 178 Elizabeth Kostova Foundation

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