Just Fetching

11 Sep

 “But that’s the part I do understand, Swillie,” he stuttered, “It is, ‘Swillie’?”

She obliged him ‘yes’ with a quick back and forth head shake.  He smiled.  “It’s a different name.”

“Yes, like silly! Don’t ask, don’t ask. My mother must have been drunk when she named me. Do you know – this is a true story, I swear! When they put a wristband on a hospital patient, one woman – this is true – this woman, after having her baby, she’s looking at her wristband, right, and she says to her husband, ‘Lookey here, Dave, (let’s say his name is ‘Dave’ – I don’t know – but let’s just say), anyway, she says, ‘Dave’ isn’t that so nice. The hospital people named our daughter ‘Fem’ale’’. Now isn’t that a hoot! Some people are idiots!”

“For ‘female’? That’s a riot. True story?”

Swillie slaps her chest, crossing her heart, “I swear to God. You can’t make up this shit. I’m kinda’ glad my name – at least – sounds like ‘Tilley’ or ‘Sally’ even!”


“I’m a regular riot, stick around.”

Anyway, Swillie.  No, I don’t know you, it’s true, and it’s no problem to me, that you’ve divulged these things.  It’s actually ironic that you can speak up, you know, be so matter-of-fact, about a topic that is, well, taboo.”

“‛Taboo’!” she remarked quickly. “Oh!  I remember that as a fragrance!  Yes, yes! My mother would buy Tabu at Jaller’s Pharmacy!  We’d stop in for Easter or whatever and she’d buy Tabu and old man Jaller would wrap it up, pulling out some generic wrapping paper from under the counter!  He’d take forever too.  He was, like 100 years old and he walked liked this,” she stood, rounding her shoulders, the pretense of a lame foot dragging along the floor. He smiled at her; her mimicry wasn’t lost on him. “Parkinson’s?” he remarked.

“You got it! Ding, ding, ding! Winner here!”  Swillie was deliriously happy. She felt understood.

“It’s taboo,” he continued.  “It’s a topic that’s got taboo written all over it.  For years it’s been a dark chasm! And it was not discussed in social circles and it will probably be taboo for quite a while.”  He stopped and looked at her for a moment as he felt her steady gaze upon him.

Was he flirting? Or was he just being friendly? She couldn’t tell. To ponder this, Swillie leaned back in her chair, an impractical wrought-iron type sitting on too shiny a linoleum floor, and began to laugh aloud over the thought that she actually told her fantasy to him about being raped by a tall, dark, handsome stranger.  She continued laughing, and in her enthusiasm, the chair went smack! And she grabbed the table to right herself before nearly falling on the floor. Suddenly she was looking in his direction. “Wow! Close call! Hey, do you know all this is natural?” She laughed. “I’m not on any pills!”

“Too much caffeine, then.” he told her.

Something fierce was coming from deep inside her. It was coming. It was coming on very quickly. With a gurgle and growl she jerked in her chair again and this time, she threw her full weight forward into the table.  “‘WaaaarraaarrrghOh, my God! I don’t normally belch in public! Oh! I’m so embarrassed!”

The waiter, passing Swillie’s table said good-naturedly, “Oh my!”

Swillie was flabbergasted.  “Oh my goodness!” she said, “Excuse me!”

“Swillie! Please be careful!” said the waiter. “We want you to return and not fall on the floor. Stay in the chair!”

“Oh, Stankos!  I’m okay!  Thank you!”

“Are you all right, sir?  Anything I can get for you?” Stankos said to the stranger.

“No.  No.  I’m fine,” he said to the waiter, and to Swillie he said, “It’s fine, really,” and started to laugh – but not at her, and ever so slightly.  “A walk might do us good.”

Swillie sat up alert, positioning her napkin, folding its end, demurely touching the corners of her mouth.  She shifted her eyes about the room.  “You know, I love this place,” she told him.  “The waiters make me feel so comfortable and all.  And, not only that,” she whispered, as one of the waiters filled their water glasses.  “They’re sort of a fantasy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Ya know,” said Swillie. To drive home her point she pushed out her left hand to make an “O” with her index and thumb fingers, and with her right hand she pushed her index finger into the O several times.

“Hmmn, both of them?”  He laughed under his breath.

“It would be heaven.”

He said, “And over and over again, eh?”

She flashed her eyes at him over the rip of her coffee cup, “Is there any other way?”

They both sat offering polite smiles to the passing waiters, and then smiled politely at one another as couples do when love is young and fresh, when both parties offer pleasantries and try hard to be on their best behavior.  And it occurred to Swillie that this first conversation was somehow blossoming into something more.

“You know that burp was awful, but you’re lucky I didn’t throw up on you!  Oh God, that would be awful. One time, with hot dogs – I had one too many at a friend’s barbecue, I don’t know how it was in two large pieces.  But, let me tell you, I ran to the ladies room, and forced myself to throw up.  Felt it coming up and boom!  A piece of the hot dog hit the toilet seat and came back hitting me in the face!  A full projectile!”

“Oh, my God!” said the stranger, now standing, his eyes fixed on the TV in the corner behind Swillie. “Turn that up!” he said to the waiter, “Turn that up!” This got the attention of everyone in the restaurant, suddenly Blackberry’s were pinging alerts, and phone calls were buzzing, Swillie turned in her chair – everyone in the restaurant had stopped eating, a waiter, trying to fit between two tables, dropped two breakfast plates, several different languages were being spoken at once – there was a defining freakiness and then the umbrella of fear.

“Oh, my God? Is this real?” Swillie screamed. “Stankos turn on a different channel! Turn on a different channel!” It was the same from one news channel to the next. “That’s right down the block!”

Swillie ran to the window and saw what she could not believe, people running down the street, newspapers being used as shields from the white ash plume making its way up Broadway.

“My dog!” said the stranger, “I’ve got to get to my dog!”

As the white ash was making its way closer and closer to the restaurant, Swillie said to him as the man was making his way out the door and into the chaos, “I don’t even know your name!”

“I’m sorry! I’ve got to get back to my dog! I’ve got to get into my apartment! It’s right on Pine Street!”

People were running in the street, business people, people in shorts, people in suits, people in hats, in sneakers, in sandals, in sunglasses. Cabs were rushing up and the sirens of fire trucks and police were rushing down. “What’s your name?!” yelled Swillie.

And with a split of time before heading out, he yelled back, “Miles! My name is Miles!”

And he was gone.

Stankos yelled to his brother, “Domitri! Shut off all power! Put on security mode! Now! Hurry!” Stankos yelled to the patrons, “You can stay here or go! I’m giving you two minutes to either stay or leave the building!” Some people hurried out – home was where to be, with loved ones, but some people stayed behind, choosing to watch the chaos from behind security bars instead.

Swillie looked to the tray where Stankos had left her check and unwrapped the token candy. She rolled the dark chocolate and mint, sucking in the bitter sweetness to her mouth, sitting in silence, preparing herself.

The End

© Terry Rachel, 2011

One Response to “Just Fetching”

  1. mary jo September 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    You got me.. haha.. Held in suspense, wondering where we were going with the story and Bam.. there it was~
    Thank you~
    Fitting for the day and weekend~ MJ

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