grief, love, short fiction, Uncategorized, women

Customer Complaint

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https://framedbynature.deviantart.com/art/January-3rd-424471811

Ivor walked out of the mall, putting more weight on his cane as he adjusted his cap to alleviate the thin layer of perspiration. The canvas shopping bag was gripped in his left hand, swollen knuckles turned pale from the pressure of his grip. It swung with the weight of its contents as he looked up at the restaurant.

 

He ran his yellowing tongue over his cracked lips and said a name. The association raised the hairs on the back of his neck, gave him a boost which alleviated the pains which came from the simple act of motion, deepening as the years went on.

 

People milled around him as he made slow progress.

 

They had come for their anniversary. Katya, their eldest had warned against it, said the food was made like play-dough, preformed and packaged. She chided her mother, telling her she could make a better meal at home. Bettina’s eyes had narrowed, a flush of blood rising in her soft cheeks as she folded her arms.

 

‘Your father never takes me out. It has movie star pictures on the walls and impersonators.’

 

Ivor overheard from his position on the recliner, reading the scarred, leather bound book with his spectacles perched on the end of his nose, muttering words in a language thought lost to time and decided to make the reservation after all.

 

They played music at an ear splitting volume, served with a desperate theatrical quality which made his blood pressure go up and the food was late and cold.

 

She had cooed and pointed at the pictures and the staff, dressed as movie stars or characters. Ivor remembered their server had been the drunken pirate and how Bettina had mistaken his sloppy stoned attitude for attention to detail. Ivor sipped his cola and fought the rising indignation like a dose of indigestion, smiled at his Bettina and took her hand.

 

The server, Jay, had smoked a blunt on his break and it got him through his shifts in a warm, bubbling haze of intoxication. Sure, he missed details but most people wanted to eat or stop their kids from ruining the entire evening and he was convinced of his charms with people.

 

Sure, he missed details.

 

Bettina’s allergy.

 

Ivor told people his last memory of her was lifting the dripping burger, giggling as something warm broke across his chest with pleasure. All these years and he never loved her more.

 

He lied to people.

 

His last memory was watching her seize up with anaphylactic shock. Clawing at her throat as her eyes bulged in their sockets, disbelieving and watching how her brilliant, magical Ivor could not save her. When he lurched towards the idiot server, barking curses in a language which made people ill to hear aloud, it became an awful cartoon.

 

The lawyer explained it. They were a franchise with money and an army of lawyers. One stoned server doth not make a summer, he had quipped and regretted it for the rest of his life.

 

It was two weeks.

 

An embolism in the pool of the motel he had been living in since his divorce. Ivor had dropped a pebble into a bowl of water on a night his grief whipped his soul into action.

 

Jay, the stoned pirate threw himself into traffic after giving his deposition to the franchise legal team with something of a smile on his face. Ivor twisted the bandana he had snatched from the idiot when he had rushed at him.

 

It was not enough.

 

The items he needed were available in the mall, although his disdain for the commercial was mistaken for the simple awkwardness of an elderly man but he muttered something about standards as he left.

 

The restaurant had not closed. It bulged on the corner of the main street, and he felt offended by its existence. It was not open for business at this time of day though, which suited him and soothed the small voice, a perfect impersonation of his Bettina which asked him why he had gone back to practicing again.

 

Because you were my reason not to, he told her.

 

He stopped on the kerb opposite and set the bag down, reaching inside for the snowglobe and the hammer as he shifted his cane from one hand to another, gritting his teeth against the pains in his hips and knees.

 

‘FYN CUN PRXA DUHA GHUT WYM AS LOW’

 

His voice was low and rich, bristling with operatic power. It made people stop, turning towards the source with a bizarre curiosity, like they had seen something take wing from the ground.

 

The hammer took out the globe and Ivor watched the air twist and shimmer above the building before he raised his hand and scattered the spray of blood, water, glitter and glass onto the road. It had been a warm, sluggish day but people stared at the building, now encased in ice. Its garish, plastic logo was now lost behind thick opaque ice, razored chandeliers hanging from everywhere and all of it making people lose their minds with shock and disbelief.

 

Ivor felt the first twinge of pressure in the base of his spine, how it sent a million love letters imploring him to give up and as the pavement rushed up to meet him, he felt his Bettina’s breath at his cheek and smiled for the first time in months.

 

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