Marked For Life
by Marian Allen
Oliver felt like slamming out of the empty bar, the way he’d slammed out of the other places he’d applied – or tried to apply – and been turned down. But there was something different in this old guy’s face, a sadness and a kindness that made the young raccoon want to talk, instead.
“It’s the mask,” he said. “People see a raccoon, and they think, ‘thief.’ I can’t help the mask, you know. I can’t just take it off, any more than you can just take off that shell.”
“I know,” said the old turtle. “Nobody knows better than I do. So you never been in trouble with the law? Never stole? Ever?”
Oliver couldn’t meet the old guy’s eyes. He’d been a lot of things, but he’d never been a liar. Never wanted to be.
“I stole plenty,” he said, defiantly. “Broke into trash cans, barns, storage containers, you name it. Went through a cat flap, right into a kitchen, climbed up a cabinet, and cleaned out a cookie jar.”
“That what you get busted for?”
Oliver, startled, snapped his full attention back to his questioner. “How’d you know?”
“I can tell by the way you talk you ain’t from around here. They boxed you up, drove you a long ways, and let you out where you don’t know nobody and you don’t know the territory. But you’re lucky, and you stay alive and you learn how to get along in the new place.”
“How long ago did it happen to you?” Oliver was dangerously close to relaxing his guard, having finally met someone who not only cared but understood.
“Long time,” the old turtle said. “Long time.” He pushed at the broom a couple of times, then said, “I’m ’bout to lock up for the night. If you’re here at sundown tomorrow, you got a job. I’m too old to dance with this broom.”
“You’ll put in a good word for me with the boss?”
“I am the boss, son.”
The next night, Oliver heard the click of glasses and the rumble of conversation from his post in the kitchen, not from the windy, lonely dampness of the outside. He had never been happier than he was now, up to his elbows in soapsuds, hands busily washing glasses and tapas plates.
Not such a rotten world, after all.
~ * ~
And now, because it’s food day at the blog, here’s a tapas recipe. We like these with pasta dishes, but they’d be good for appetizers or snacks.
Garlic Cheese Toast
- olive oil
- garlic salt
Cut the bread into “fingers.” Brush the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle them with garlic salt and cheese. Broil until the bread toasts and the cheese melts.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Crime, reform, kindness, lie/honesty.