*Short story originally written for The Iron Writer Challenge in which no more than 525 words could be used to tell a story that involved the following elements: a roller skating fiddler, an extremely overweight man, a billboard filled city, and a tedious task.
I wrote this at a time when I was bartending, so naturally I thought of the kinds of tedious tasks associated with that job.
Thank you for reading it – let me know what you think in the comments below!
Marcus stood behind the bar top with a knife, cutting board, and box of limes before him. He began slicing the fruit into convenient, ready-to-squeeze triangles; one tedious task in a long list of opening duties at the Bottleneck Bar where he’d been working for eight years.
As he cut the limes he gazed out the wall of windows facing one of the busiest intersections in Sydney. The view used to be something Marcus enjoyed; he’d watch the pedestrians and cyclists ramble by, or the couples chatting on scattered benches and think how lucky he was to be working in the heart of the city. But today there was a new sight – a crew was putting up yet another billboard right outside the window. “New Double BBQ Bacon Stacker!” the sign practically shouted.
Another one?! Marcus thought to himself. The place is already packed with ‘em, all promoting the same crap food and the same cheap clothes.
He sighed and continued cutting fruit until he was disturbed by a loud bang on the window by the front door. He looked over and saw a young woman trying to steady herself on roller skates clutching a black case.
He wiped his hands on the towel as he went to go open the door.
“You OK out here ma’am?”
“Yeah I just -” suddenly she was falling backward, knocking into a bench, unsettling a massive man with a pile of fast food around him. “Sorry sir! It’s these dang skates!”
The man grumbled a response before stuffing a handful of fries into his mouth. He reached for his drink and made a lame attempt to pull his shirt over his enormous belly.
Marcus extended his hand to the woman and hoisted her off the ground. “Come on inside, I’ll fix ya a drink while you take a load off.”
“Um… OK. But…” She glanced at the sign on the door, “Are you even open?”
“Close enough. Sit before you knock anything over.” Marcus said with a wink as he pulled her towards the bar stools.
She smiled shyly as she relaxed onto the stool, put the case on the counter and leaned on her elbow. “Thanks for this. I’ve been rehearsing for what’s supposed to be my new gig – The Roller Skating Jam Band. They need a fiddler and I need a job but… I don’t think I’m cut out for it.”
“Roller skatin’ jam band, huh? Sounds exciting. But I suppose it would take a lot of coordination to play a fiddle while skatin’ about.” Marcus said while he mixed ingredients into a glass.
“Well, I’ve gotta find some way to make money or I’m moving back to Tamworth.” She said before she took a long sip. “Mmm. That’s good.”
“Well darlin’… Today’s your lucky day. Because it just so happens that I run this bar, and we could use some new entertainment to spice the place up.” Marcus smiled at her, thrilled when he saw her face light up.
“Are you serious?! You’d give me a shot?”
“Course.” he added, with a wink and a smile, “How else am I supposed to get to know ya before you have to leave the city?”