Drama Friendship Inspirational

The Fortunate Son By Karen Lankford-Carnes

This isn’t ideal, by any stretch of the imagination. Siobhan thought as she punched her timecard, in only eight hours. I can do this.Just find a purpose, a reason for being here. Some reason. “I really, really hate this gig. How am I working in a restaurant? It’s not even a clever cliche. “Malarkey!” That's what he said, with conviction,no less. Siobhan couldn't even whisper it without going into one of her uncontrollable laughing fits.She had more and more of these as of late. Here she was, a 32 year actor. Living her dreams keeping the salad bar filled. Well I best start a choppin’ Took her list of prep work needed for the day and headed into the walk-in refrigerator to grab some supplies. : “Hey Chevron, can you throw a refill on that guy’s coffee?” “Sure, except my name’s not Chevron and I have no idea who ‘that guy’ is.” “ So sorry, Chevy. He’s sitting at the counter next to the rent-a-cop. dick-nose, there.” “What?! What did you call him?” “We call him dick-nose.” “I’m so loving my tenure on day shift.” “You guys”. They both reeked of alcohol.But The cooks would keep their jobs. Not because it was a union shop, but because good cooks were hard to find and these two were the best she’d ever worked with. She hated having that knowledge. She also didn't like it when the employees made fun of a customer behind their back. It was just too easy. It was one thing to have it out with a customer who thought it funny to embarrass you in front of your colleagues, quite another to make fun of someone you’ve never spoken to. 2 “Good morning” Siobhan said to the gentleman she’d been directed to refill his coffee. “Hmmm.” The man growled. “Is there anything else I can get for you?” “Why? Do you want me to leave?!” he barked. “Of course not!” laughed Siobhan. I thought you might like a pastry or one of our…” “If I did, I would ask for it!” She’s seen his kind before. Suspected that his outer gruffness hid some substantial depth. These types try very hard to appear as one dimensional as possible, but it’s impossible, because they’re not one-dimensional people. She’d give it a rest for today and take him on as a challenge a little at a time. They’d gone to the trouble to give him a “name”, he must be a regular. Before he left, he looked closely at Siobhan’s nametag, and pronounced her name perfectly out loud: “Siobhan . Irish”.She was excited. “Yes! Yes! See guys?!Some people do know the name!” “Where’re ya from?” “No, this name is after my great aunt, I’m from Pontiac. Boring, right?” “Pontiac didn’t used to be boring.” He replied. “So my folks told me. The trolley to Detroit. Hudson’s at Christmas. All that stuff”. “Why’d ya leave?” He asked, again, “Well, all those good things were gone by the time I came into the picture, and the 68,68? Riots were happening in Detroit and Pontiac my mom made the decision that it was time to get out of dodge, such as it was. We moved out to “the sticks” in a small town.”Did you miss the city?” “Kind of.” My best friend still lives there, and I’d go visit her alot. I was otherwise occupied with making new friends, starting school and that kind of stuff.My family were all there, too.I didn’t have one second to miss it. He took three dollar bills out of his billfold and handed them to Siobhan. She was shocked. “Oh, sir. No, that’s very nice, but you needn't tip me.I’m only the salad bar girl, you tip your server.” “ Did you serve me today?” “Well I just…” “As far as I'm concerned ,You were my server today. Hush up and take your tip.” “Thank you sir.” As soon as he left, Siobhan took the money and put it in the “general” tips collection. 3 Siobhan turned on her co-workers. “Now why would you call him that name? He’s a perfectly delightful man.” Cook #1, Brad said, “Hey get over it, Chevy. The guy’s miserable.” “Do you know anything at all about him? Anything to give you a valid reason to tack a fifth-grade insult on him? Geez, really, guys. How old are you?” Cook #2, Jeff, said, “We’re not too old to have a little fun. That guy should lighten up. So should you Chevron.” Siobhan’s retort came quickly and was not appreciated. “Yeah, maybe he should go out and get drunk every night so he’ll stink up everything within 30 thirty square feet. Ever hear of the 12-steps? The first step is admitting that you’re making everyone around you nauseous with your stench. Lighten up yourselves.” Siobhan was upset for the rest of the day at work. Why are people like this? She realized that she’d answered her own question by bringing sobriety into the “argument”, if that’s what they were having. Childish drunks are a hair worse than mean drunks. It’s altogether sickening to see a grown man behave that way. She resolved to find some mutual ground between her and the customer. She was determined to make him smile, and find out something that made sense of his demeanor. The restaurant was located inside of a mall, Siobhan thought it ridiculous that the same restaurant was located, literally, across the street from the mall.. “What’s the deal with that?” she asked her manager. “Well, this is a company store and that’s a franchise.” “ It’s still the same restaurant! Same food. Same prices!” Siobhan laughed out loud at the genius behind this “business plan”. She started for the exit , then decided to go for a coffee. There was a cafe located in the mall that was known for its specialty drinks. Glad to be free of the restaurant, salad 4 bar, and everything that went with working in a not too fast, but not too leisurely restaurant, she slowed her pace. Looking toward the record store, Siobhan saw something. She did a double take to make sure that she was seeing who she thought she was seeing. It was, gosh, I don’t know his name, well out with it then; here was “dick-nose” in the record store, with a pair of headphones on, eyes closed, revelling in whatever music he was listening to. Siobhan wandered into the store. He wouldn’t notice her. If he did, he wouldn’t remember where he saw her. “Siobhan,” he said. She looked up. “Oh, Hi, Mr….” “Samuel” he replied “Mr.Samuel, then.” laughing, he corrected her. “ No, my name is Samuel, just Samuel.” “Alright, ‘just Samuel’”, I’m surprised to see you still here. I just got off work. What are you listening to? Oh!!! Puccini! Kauffman is my favorite tenor, you know, of the living variant.” “ I would not have taken you for an opera fan.” “ Well actually, I’m not. I just appreciate the beauty of a well trained voice.” Said Siobhan, then again asked, “Why are you still here?” “There are days, when I've nothing to do, I make my way to the library, theater, or here. “I putter around the day long.” Siobhan smiled “ Ah, like me on my days off. Then I hurry home to feed the nobodies and then let the nothings out.” Samuel laughed out loud at this. A hearty laugh, Siobhan knew she’d been right about this man. Samuel nervously asked, “ Are, Are you...um,.a..” “A lesbian? Nope, I’d probably have better luck though.” They shared a chuckle at her comment, then Samuel proceeded.”No , I mean, um...married?” “ No sir, never have been.” Samuel smiled at this and asked “Well, what’s wrong with you?” Siobhan began laughing again. This wasn't the first time she’d been asked that question. “ Oh! So many things! You don’t have the time!”They were both laughing now. They were near the cafe, and Siobhan saw no way to end the conversation. She saw no reason to, either. When he smiled and laughed, he didn’t seem much older than she first thought. He was quite handsome, in fact, blushing at the thought.Here’s my stop. Can I buy you a cup of 5 coffee? “No! No!” Samuel exclaimed as he backed away. Great, I freaked him out. “I have to...I have to, uh, go.” “Go feed the nobodies and let out the nothings?” Siobhan winked. “Hey I’m just joking. This place has a special blend that I like. I stop in, once in a while. So, I guess I’ll see you around!” “Yes. I will see you.” said Samuel, as he turned on his heel and walked away. Well, that was weird. He’s probably married. Siobhan got her coffee, sat in the cafe and relaxed. Siobhan’s next day shift came and went without incident, except that Samuel hadn’t come into the restaurant for the first time she’d stated days. She hoped she hadn’t offended him someonhow, but still it bothered her. If she’d done something...stupid, you didn’t do anything except be nice...try to remember, Chevy, the world doesn’t revolve around you. After work she headed for the exit and saw Samuel at a pet shop, holding a puppy. His facial expression was like that of a new father holding his newborn child. Should I even approach him? She decided not to, when she heard her name. “Siobhan?! Come, let me show you something!” Samuel was excited about something. “Hi Samuel, what do you have here?” Samuel immediately thrust the pup into Siobhan’s arms. “Isn’t he perfect, just perfect?” “Yes. He.Is. Are we getting him?” “We?” Samuel asked, nervously. “You, I mean? Are you getting him?” Siobhan quickly backpedaled. “No. I don’t want a dog. Never again.” Siobhan heard the little pup cough and she put her ear to its chest. “Well, you don’t want this one, anyway.Miss?” Siobhan tried to get the staff’s attention. “Hi, this pup’s got Bordetella, so all of these pups are going to get Bordetella. My suggestion is to isolate the puppies from one another and keep them quarantined until it’s cleared up.” The sales girl began to object to Siobhan’s suggestions. “Do you know what Bordetella is? I know because I worked at a veterinarian clinic and can identify it. I can always call the humane society and a couple of news stations. I’m very aware of how you run these puppy mills.” The sales girl picked up the phone and held her hand out to stop 6 Siobhan. “It doesn’t matter what you do, at this point.” Siobhan said, “I’m gonna grab a coffee, wanna come?” He could see how upset she was and he followed her to the cafe. “Are you alright?” he asked Siobhan. “Yeah, it's just, you know. Puppies are dependent. They can’t be their own advocates. “What are you going to do?” Samuel asked. Siobhan grabbed her phone. Exactly what I said I’d do. First, I’m calling the human society. I know a guy who’s talent at a local new station. Then I’m calling my vet to see what can be done for those pups.” “Is this a bad disease?” “It can be. It can cause lifelong upper respiratory problems. You know, I mean at the very least, they should be forced to put up a sign, warning patrons that the puppies have been exposed to it.” Siobhan got their coffee and brought it to the table that Samuel was sitting at. “Oh, I don’t want coffee.” said Samuel “Well, too bad, you have to drink it, because I don’t take my coffee that way.” Siobhan fired back, with a laugh. “Hey, can I ask you something? I don’t want to be nosy, I’m curious.” asked Siobhan “That’s being nosy.” Samuel said, laughing. “Oh, go on, be nosy.” “You said you would ‘never again’ have another dog? I just wondered why.” Siobhan immediately felt as if she’d overstepped by the look on Samuel’s face. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You don’t have to answer. I was just…” “Vietnam...he stepped on a mine right in front of me.” Samuel was reliving the moment, Siobhan could sense how painful it was for him. “No. What a terrible thing to witness.” Siobhan remarked. “Were you on the dog tracker team?” Samuel turned and looked at Siobhan oddly “How would you know that? You were a child.” “Because it kept me awake on the news at night. I would get out of bed and ask my mom if ‘any Uncle Donny’s were hurt that day.’ My Uncle was on the dog tracker team. Lost his dog, too. I knew a veterinarian who had to euthanize all of those service animals because they didn’t allow them to come back Stateside back then. Tell me about him. What was his name?” And so they talked. 7

August 12, 2021 08:52

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