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Drama Funny

Michael felt his phone buzzing in his back pocket as he wove his way through the throng of people; his shoulder the needle, his body the thread, and his phone now the knot that was going to snag his progress through this complicated loom.  It was only 11:30am, not even really lunch time, yet, but the food trucks that flanked the street were bustling with people lined up in every direction that Michael felt himself getting tangled in the complicated spider web they created.

Attempting to lead with his left shoulder, Michael pivoted directly into the world’s largest funnel cake, topped with all of the powdered sugar ever made, immediately causing the right side of his black peacoat to look like something rejected by Cruella Deville.

“Sorry!” the random stranger apologized.

Michael, internally outraged but externally composed, couldn’t even respond as he continued attempting to reach for his phone cocooned behind his right hip.  His eyes, searching the signs on the sides of the vessels while simultaneously looking for landing spots for his next steps, were bouncing around so fast that he didn’t even notice the petite lady carrying buckets of ice in each hand until he tripped into her.

“Ay Dios Mio!” he heard her exclaim as she lost her grip on one of the buckets.  Like water crashing into rocks on the rapids, freezing cold, melted ice water rushed into Michael’s shoes.

This time, he could not hold back the snarled growl that escaped his throat as he stooped to collect the bucket and handed it back to its handler.

With a jacket that was white on one side, black on the other, and toes already losing feeling as each step felt like he had glacier sponges for shoes, Michael seriously doubted the gyros he was sent for were worth the cost of his efforts. Steve had assured him that everybody was talking about "The Grecian Heathen" and how divine their food was this year; how convenient that Michael was the one who had to retrieve the buzz-worthy food for Steve.

At least the phone had stopped vibrating.  Michael would check his recent calls and consider returning the missed connection when he made it to “The Grecian Heathen: Food So Good it’s Sinful” to confirm Steve’s order.

“Steve and Sandy,” Michael thought, his annoyance growing with each sodden, directionless tread.

“Steve and Sandy!  Back at the office, probably watching my struggle from the conference window right now.  I should’ve never bet numbers this week. WHY did I bet numbers this week!?”

Investment banking was not Michael’s end goal but it certainly had the potential to be lucrative in the interim. The competition and camaraderie between “the three stooges” (as their boss referred to them) was usually fun.  Each week, the one who missed their targets by the widest margin had to buy lunch for their crew and, this week, Michael was the lucky loser.

Michael had completely forgotten that the annual Food Truck Rodeo was in town this week.  It would not be possible to simply order Panera or Fuji’s and have it DoorDashed to their desks, the lucky loser had to wind and weave aimlessly toward the sustenance requested by the winners.

Just then, Michael spotted “Not the Worst Currywurst” on the left side of the street and, trying to avoid the previous incidents, checked over his left shoulder before redirecting his path.  He could feel the blister already forming between his first and second toes with each sodden stride.

He would get two orders of currywurst, one mild for Sandy and one extra spicy for himself, and only have one more stop to make before the trek back to the office.

“Maybe they can tell me where ‘The Grecian Heathen’ is at,” he thought.

Seeing two lines extending from the window of the Currywurst truck, Michael discerned which line was for ordering and claimed his spot at the end.  As the patrons made their way to the counter, each bobbing left and right like a hungry metronome, Michael tried to brush some of the powdered sugar off of his right shoulder.

He soon discovered that each attempt to remove the unwanted reminder of this escapade only embedded the embellishments deeper into the fibers of his coat.

Giving up on the coat, Michael was relieved to find it was his turn to order.  Once he paid, Michael turned to venture to the end of the pickup line and found his right foot had a pull that wasn’t there before.

Carefully and quickly, as he was still surrounded by people moving in every direction on all sides, Michael balanced precariously on his left leg while he inverted his right foot to check the bottom of his shoe.

Of all the luck, Michael knew he had the worst today because, right there, stuck to the sole of his soaked shoe, was a neon yellow blob of chewed gum.

Knowing there was nothing he could do Michael sighed and put his foot back down on the pavement as he resumed his place in the shuffling metronome chorus.

They handed Michael his orders in two trays which occupied both of his hands.  When he asked for a bag, they told him they’d ran out but “check with another vendor and maybe they have one.”

This was not the answer Michael wanted but, knowing he still had one more stop, he stepped to the side (“Squish-stick, squish-stick”), placed the trays on the shallow condiment ledge, and attempted to use the napkins they’d given him to remove the gum from the bottom of his shoe.

Michael pulled off just as much gum as the gum tore off napkin; he now had a blend of neon yellow and translucent white streaming from the sole of his right shoe but it was better than leaving the gum uninhibited to slow his progress.  Gathering the currywursts in his hands, it dawned on Michael that he had forgotten to inquire about directions to “The Grecian Heathen.”

He decided to take his chances and wove his way back into the sea of people on the hunt for their favorite eats.

Michael felt the tension building in his shoulders with the new balancing act that added to the challenging task of navigating the loom of bodies.  His arms were jostled by the people walking on either side of him and, all at once, he had to steady himself to avoid dropping the currywursts.

As he checked each tray, he noticed a passerby, traveling in the opposite direction, carrying a half-eaten gyro.

“Hey, Man, where’d you find the Greek food?” Michael called out, hoping this stranger would mercifully guide him to the end of his journey.

Making eye contact with Michael, “About four trucks up,” said the stranger-savior.

“Four trucks.  Just four trucks,” Michael thought as he balanced and bobbed his way along with the crowd.

Finally seeing the white truck with the blue stripes of the Greek flag and a glittering, golden halo painted around the top, Michael allowed himself a sigh of relief as he joined the ordering line for “The Grecian Heathen.”

When he was next to order, Michael felt his phone start buzzing again.

At least this time he had the buffer of the food truck to defend against bodies on one side and could set down one of the trays on their window ledge in order to reach his phone.

A light gust of wind stirred up dust and debris from the ground as Michael had his hand extended, planting the foreign goods on the ledge.  Feeling a stab in his right eye, Michael used his free hand to attempt to extract the offender from his vision source.  Unfortunately, his reflexes did not recall that he had just been transporting trays of currywurst, barehanded, as he introduced spice and unwanted excitement to his offended eyeball.

Spewing a line of curse words (too colorful to include here) Michael nearly dropped the other tray of currywurst as his entire being reacted to the assault.  Feeling beyond perturbed, Michael, with eyes squeezed shut, jerked the buzzing phone out of his pocked and spat “This is Mike” into the receiver.

“Hey, Buddy, was trying to catch you,” Michael heard Steve’s voice say.  “Bossman surprised us and had subs catered in!  You’re off the hook for lunch today.”

Feeling enraged, defeated, and unable to move, Michael had could not produce a response for Steve.

Was this a joke?

Holding the phone to his ear with his powder sugared shoulder, and feeling the wet socks squish beneath his feet as he shifted his weight, Michael finally said “I’ll see you when I get back to the office” as he hung up the phone and returned it to his back pocket.

Still squeezing his right eye shut, as tears attempted to flood out the transgressor, Michael made a less-than-graceful “Squish-stick, squish-stick” turn away from “The Grecian Heathen,” abandoning the currywursts, and began the journey of the worst lucky loser back to the office.  He was willing to tolerate the crowds and do his best to be a good sport with their office antics, but, as this afternoon felt like one massive lark, Michael was done playing games he couldn’t guarantee he would win.

Steve and Sandy could bet on that.

December 13, 2023 23:53

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4 comments

Olivia Joy
12:00 Dec 21, 2023

This story kept me hooked right to the end. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and humor. This was an excellent story.

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Grace Morning
20:21 Jan 03, 2024

Thank you, Olivia! As text leaves interpretation to the reader, I appreciate the feedback that the humor was, in deed, communicated.

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Kay Reeves
21:19 Dec 20, 2023

Over all I enjoyed this story but, being English, there were references I didn't understand. "Currywurst"? "gyro"? I loved the sewing terms used at the beginning but "loom" seemed out of place as it refers to weaving, which doesn't use a needle. I think this is what they call a mixed metaphor. The details like the chewing gum on the shoe were excellent and really added to the reality of the story.

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Grace Morning
20:30 Jan 03, 2024

Thank you for your feedback, Kay! Michael was in the midst of a food truck rodeo where a variety of foods were available. Currywurst is a German hot dog or sausage of sorts (please, Germans, do not berate me if this is a severely incorrect comparison or description. I, truly, could not consume enough currywursts while in Germany and still long to find ANY offerings of similar quality in the states.). Gyro is a Greek dish, like a delicious taco, served in a soft pita shell with Lamb (or other meat) and usually tzatziki (cucumber sauce.). A...

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