I can’t remember if this began as a writing exercise or not. Anyway, here it is:
by Marian Allen
The dumpster behind the Bagel Bag used to be my favorite. They had these good doughnuts in their own separate sack. Then somebody started throwing other stuff in with them – coffee grounds, mainly. A man, I figured. A woman wouldn’t be that mean, unless she knew you personally. Women are angels, unless you’re married to them. But what did I care about coffee grounds? I like coffee grounds. Besides, I’m not a kid; I don’t have a fit if my one food touches my other food.
But then one day I’m back there and I go between the dumpster and the wall so I can look in the kitchen window, make sure nobody’s about to come out. There’s this brown-headed guy with a beer gut in there, laughing and squirting liquid soap into a bag. The window’s open a crack, so I can hear him when he says, “We’ll see how he likes ’em with suds on top.”
There’s a woman with her hair all covered up in a white paper hair-net, leaning on a counter, watching him and shaking her head. “I swear to my cat, Mack, you are the coldest-hearted so-and-so on God’s green Earth.”
See what I mean about women?
Mack bumps the back door open and climbs onto a box to dump his sack.
I come around behind him. “Hi. You know what? Coffee grounds is one thing, but soap ain’t nice.”
Mack jerks like he’s electroshocked. “JESUS!”
That makes me laugh. “The doctors didn’t think so.”
“Get away!” He’s pale and trembly and his voice is hoarse. “You lunatics…. You lunatics oughta be locked up.”
“They told me I could leave. I didn’t like it there, anyway. They didn’t put soap on my doughnuts.”
Maybe he doesn’t know sarcasm when he hears it. He stands there on his box and flaps his hands like I’m an alley cat. “Get away get aWAY!”
I grab him by the knees and heave. He goes over, screaming like a kid in a Haunted House.
The dumpster is half-full – or half-empty, if you want to see it that way – so he doesn’t have far to fall.
I take off running. When I get to the street, I stop and look back. Mack stands up, covered with coffee grounds and soapy doughnuts. The woman is in the doorway, laughing till she’s red in the face.
She has kind of a mean laugh.
So I don’t go there any more. Eating out’s no fun if you can’t go someplace pleasant, right?
WRITING PROMPT: What does your main character demand in an eating establishment?