People watching – short fiction

 

A tall man in a blue work shirt yanked open the door to the bank. He pulled off his yellow, Caterpillar baseball cap and whacked it against his thigh. He ran his hand through his hair and looked around before making his way to the coffee bar near the front window. After contemplating the setup for a moment, he picked up one of the disposable coffee pods and brought it close to his face, squinting as if he couldn’t read the label. He returned it to the counter, not bothering to put it back in the bin it had come from, and chose another one. Satisfied, he put it into the machine and pushed a button. With no haste, he put a plastic-coated cup in place just in time to catch the hot stream.

When the cup was full, he took a sip. No sugar, no cream, no need to stir. He didn’t remove the spent pod, either.

On his way back to the door he paused. “You’re outta Southern Pecan,” he said.

“I’ll make a note of that, Sir,” said one of the tellers.

He flipped his cap back on and left.caterpillar hat

Mia must have been staring, because the teller who was helping her said, “It happens all the time. We’re like Starbucks, only free. Did you want a cup?”

“No, thank you. Why don’t you tell them it’s for customers?”

“Because,” she replied as she fit a stack of bills into the automatic counting machine, “that guy could be worth millions to the bank one day.”

That guy?”

“You never know,” she said.

The other teller, a young Indian woman wearing a blue blazer, came hurrying out from behind the counter. She held open the door for a man in an electric wheelchair. He had no legs, not even stumps. He was a torso with arms. There was a tray across the front of his wheelchair, the kind you’d find in the seatback in front of you on a plane.

The young woman followed him to the counter, but didn’t go behind it. Instead she stopped with him and asked, “The usual?”

Mia couldn’t hear his response, but he reached into a black leather bag hanging off the side of his wheelchair and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. The teller took it, went behind the counter, and returned with a roll of quarters.

“There you go, Mr. Price. All set?”

He must have said yes, because she said, “Right then. Let me get the door for you.”

Mia watched as he rolled to the sidewalk and waited at a cross walk. When the traffic stopped, he propelled himself across the street onto the opposite sidewalk. She watched until he was out of sight.

“Miss?”

She turned back to the teller, who handed her her cash with a small envelope.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No, thank you,” she replied.

“Sure you don’t want a cup of coffee?”

Mia smiled. “Maybe next time.”

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2 responses to “People watching – short fiction

  1. Interesting slice of life. I wonder why there are little portraits of two seemingly unrelated men; I expected some sort of connection to happen, either in Mia’s mind or from the teller. Nice, tight writing.

  2. I’m glad to see you writing again. I got a strong picture of the scene right from that first paragraph.

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