The man who did nothing but smile

Submitted into Contest #39 in response to: Write a story that begins and ends with someone looking up at the stars.... view prompt



The man who did nothing but smile beamed. There was no reason not to. He stuck his tongue between his teeth, crinkled his nose and pulled his face up into something not unlike the knot at the heart of a bow. Ribbons of leathery face skin were neatly drawn up around his eyes and then folded themselves back down to rest upon hardened cheeks as he threw back his head to gaze upon a starlit sky.     

The moon rained down upon the oval. Prostrate, arms and legs wide as could be, square in the middle of the field, the man lay thumping his hands on the dusty pitch. His smile curled to a crescent. There really is nothing but the moon he thought. Nothing but the moon and the grass of this cricket field. Nothing but the moon, the grass and my sandwiches.

The crows and cockatoos caught a little of the flickering aluminium and began to waddle out into the heat of the oval. The sandwich was lain out neatly with a banana drawing a curve around to form something like an upside-down lock. Stuffing the sandwich in whole he chewed over each side of the bread until it softened to a pulp around the ham which he then sucked down leaving the rosy slice of gammon pocking from his mouth like bitten off toe. Spitting it back out into the foil, he quickly wrapped and buried it in his bag.

Marching over the crest of the hill our man drops into a jog, lunch bag swinging about his neck and smile lifted - blown back in the breeze. Full sprint, in motion, the path to the side of the highway dies back to flat ground and, our man begins to ease his run back to a heavily panted walk still charging on against the tepid flow of midnight traffic.

As the noise of the cars softened a little snapping could heard from somewhere about. Not much farther down the road an iron gate, its flecked paint curling up to the sun, was planted between a pair of dying bay trees and caging a proud Jack Russell Terrier. Bottom taut and tail raised the dog continued steadfast, biting the air and furrowing its brow as our man crossed his legs and dropped himself square in front of the gate.

Transfixed, in total opposition the pair sat locked together each filling the other’s world completely. Untempered primal rage and placid intrigue. Our man on the verge of crying with happiness the luck of finding a dog out barking in the night time. His opponent’s nostrils flared, they sat in dead lock. The man who did nothing but smile continued to do so between cooing and kissing lips out joyfully at the dog. The rapidity of the yapping slowed until after some 5 minutes it succumbed and began trying to lick behind its ears. Turning itself over in the dust of the path, sharing in the joy of its new friend.

The little terrier all of a sudden clicked back to attention. There was something otherworldly in the air. The scent of a scrap of blushing pink gammon being worked about the outstretched hand of his new friend. This would be beyond a treat and the pup charged for the bars licking at the ham hovering just beyond its reach. Our man giving the pup’s taut little neck a much-appreciated tickle, and so it softened and curled into his grip and then to his open bag, still sniffing at the gammon. 

Dry pockets of wind from the occasional semi-trailer beat back their hair up, in perfect time, with the briefest flicks. Our man and his new dog were now the best of friends. The Jack had found a comfy place to rest its chin, just so to be able to lick the ham fat from the fingers gripping the bag handle, and they continued on down the road.

The servo courtyard was empty. Each of the 12 gormless pumps mutely buried their head, resting from a day’s heat in the centre of this languid oasis. Closing the door sealed the pair into a momentary bliss of cold synthetic air. A cashier stacking triangular sandwiches cocked his head to the click of the latch and our man made his move.

Entering his new more temperate clime our man’s countenance unfurled. The neatly pleated ribbons once drawn up with his smile descended and a look of steeled non-fuckery arrested every furrow. The cashier’s face furrowed too. The pair were apparently old foes. Both stood in anticipation of the other. Our man who did nothing but smile was a regular of sorts. And the cashier with the defeated countenance was either the only employee or just the only employee unlucky enough to have been working on all of our man’s former heists and they were never a simple affair. He, although, you would not know to look on him, prided himself on the uniqueness of his actions. Not one sandwich quite the same, not one robbery quite the same. This, for instance, was his first night time robbery. The others had been more brazen, under the full glare of a summer’s afternoon. Involving more ingenuity and more daring, but he had grown tired of such exerting schemes. What he wanted now was simple and so the method to achieve it should by logic be simple. And so, the cashier stood, wisely, waiting for his move.

In an instance, the deadlock was broken, and our man hurled the Jack Russel Terrier high into the air above the unsuspecting cashier forcing the young operative into reverse. Peddling backwards to save the hightailed jack from breaking its nose against the Perspex register glass. Cashier and terrier fell safely back into the cushion of secondarily sold Mars bars and chewing gum as our man escaped, can of ice-cold Coke in hand.

Back in the centre of the oval under the still bright moon a perfect bronzed effervescence spume was trickling its way down the fleshy flap of pork fat. Glittering, sucked upon, shaken off, bitten back and dipped again into Coke. The events in the servo had gone the way of all flesh now.

May 01, 2020 19:19

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Gwyneth L
08:06 May 05, 2020

Really nice story! Can you please check out my story and give feedback? It's called "Fatally Yours". Same contest. I'd really want to know how to improve and such because it's my first time finally writing in years


Dustin Softman
12:51 May 05, 2020

Thanks. Yea no problem. I'll check it out :D


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