Julie of Story A Day suggests we begin today’s story with a detail that would only be noticed by our character.
This is also 1-Liner Wednesday, so I’ve included a one-liner spoken by friend and fellow writer T. Lee Harris. (It is an heirloom, and the person to whom she was to give it didn’t show up.) Oh–and 1-Liner Wednesday has a new badge ’cause it has a new one every year. This one was created by Cheryl of Dreaming Reality, who is ALSO posting about bananas today!
Here be boilerplate:
This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s weekly blog hop, One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner or just like them, follow this link.
Let us begin:
We’re Too Busy Singing
by Marian Allen
The restaurant smelled of bananas. Not that nasty banana flavoring, but real, fresh bananas, over and above the sweet-edged savory darkness of steak fajitas. It took Chloe back ten years, to that Caribbean vacation Jason had “treated her to” in a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage. She rubbed the side of her head, where the bot fly egg had hitched a ride to the states.
Sheridan, her second husband, follwed her into the restaurant, carrying a cardboard box that (or, rather, the contents of which) weighed twenty pounds, like it wa’n’t no thang.
“Bananas,” he said, meaning everything she had just thought, everything she had told him when they had been in that stage of catching each other up on their lives up to the point of their meeting.
The restaurant’s hostess scurried up with a special Welcome back, regulars! smile and said, a bit breathlessly, “Hey, hey, we’re the monkeys!”
Sheridan said, “That would explain the bananas.”
“It smells like bananas.”
Her eyes went to the box he was carrying. Then she shook herself and said, “Oh, it smells like bananas in here! Yeah, we’re celebrating some pop group from back in the day.” She gave an apologetic little laugh. “Some gimmick, since there’s no ball game this week. Banana daiquiris are half price, and banana splits are buy one, get one free.”
“We’ll have two beers,” Chloe said. “Something dark and local. And we’ll split a large basket of sweet potato fries with honey mustard.”
“Sit anywhere,” the hostess said, rushing off.
The tables were mostly empty, and only one group — true, a group so large they took up two six-tops shoved together end to end — were there for the theme. The women wore jeans with wide-flared legs that thought they were bell-bottoms, white boots, and pale pink lipstick; the men wore floral shirts and trousers with ginormous belt buckles. One man had drawn himself sideburns nearly to his jawline.
Sheridan almost put the box on the table, but Chloe said, “Maybe better not.” He put it on the chair to his right. Chloe sat to his left.
“Wonder if he’s already here,” he said.
They had never met the buyer, only emailed him and texted him.
When they had signed the papers on their house, the seller had said, “Seriously — Anything you find in there is yours. I never want to see or hear about any of it. I am so over that place and everything about it.” Neither Chloe nor Sheridan, each married before, asked why.
So they had found this thing, along with many other odd things. They had made up stories about them, had put some to good use, had given some away to friends or charity, had thrown many away. This one had baffled them, until Chloe had remembered a guy her sister had gone to high school with who was now the town historian. Her sister was “friends” with him on Facebook, and had connected them.
He had said he was interested in the artifact, but they had never managed to coordinate a time to meet.
This evening was their latest attempt. It was like a scavenger hunt: Chloe and Sheridan would go to a local restaurant or event, Chloe would text the guy telling him where they were, he would fail to show, and they would take the thing home. Sheridan suggested geocaching it and texting him clues, but as long as Sheridan didn’t mind lugging it in and out of venues, it had become a kind of cross between a hobby and a joke.
Chloe texted their location.
Their beer and fries came. While they looked over the menu, the people at the large table started an amiable twelve-way argument over which member of the night’s featured pop group was their favorite and why. Chattering and hooting like a tribe of monkeys, flushed with laughter, they dominated the restaurant, drawing smiles from some other customers, dirty looks from others.
Sheridan was a smiler. “My mom used to like them. I think her favorite was the little guy. What’s his name?”
Chloe said, “I couldn’t tell you. My folks were country fans.”
When the large table started singing one of the group’s songs, Sheridan joined in, just loud enough for Chloe to hear.
“I remember that one from the Oldies station,” Chloe said, and sang a snatch of the chorus.
When the waitress came, they put in their orders. Steak fajitas, nothing with bananas in it, thanks all the same.
“Heard anything?” Sheridan asked, meaning had she had a response from her sister’s friend, the historian.
“Not a peep.”
“Maybe he’s on the last train to Clarksville.”
“I said I guess he isn’t coming.”
“Does it matter?”
“Not to me. You?”
Sheridan shook his head. “I don’t care if he never shows up. Although, eventually, I won’t carry this thing in with us unless he does show up.”
“Food’ll be here soon. Put the cannonball back in the car.”
“Right. It would never do to go off and forget it. Just leave it here and all.”
It was tempting. Tempting. But, by the time Chloe had considered it fully, Sheridan was gone and back.
“Davey,” he said. “I stopped and asked. You were in another world. Did the bananas get you started thinking about him?”
“Him who?” said Chloe.
In other news, I’m sorry to say Sweetie Pie isn’t at all well. I’m going to see if I can get her a vet visit today. She isn’t eating, yet she’s getting rounder and rounder. I’m quite concerned.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: Hey, Hey we’re the Monkeys! Bananas, and a glass of home made beer.