NaNoWriMo #3: Day 5 – Cloverleaf

(Got in a car accident today.  I was rear ended on the highway, had to slam on my brakes when the person in front of me slammed on theirs but unfortunately the person behind me failed to slam on theirs…chains of events.  Luckily, the damage to my vehicle was relatively little, if not none.  So I bid them adieu and drove home with no fuss, no muss.

Anyhow, onto the short story.  This is actually meant to be part of a larger(ish) novella that I might one day finish writing…here’s hoping…also, the opening is a little strange because I was just writing to ease in and…yeah…never mind…)

Word Count: 1,541 (gasp, I’m short…)

I wonder about the sky.  Its ever deepening shades of blue a swirling reminder of loft and whimsy.  Of innocence, untamed.  Dreams long-since left behind in a tide of ever imposing reality.

I don’t dream anymore.

They are wearing things.  Tiresome, bothersome.  Dreams.  They perplex with questions unanswerable except by the night and semblance alike.  I no longer wished to be burdened by these things, so I let them go.  Lifted them to the sky and released, watching them spread their wings and drift upwards with the rising breeze.

I stood in line at the vendor screaming, “Hot dogs, get them while their hoooooot…” behind the man in the yellow coat, watching the sky with eyes wide as saucers.  This was a Saturday.  It’s how a Saturday should be spent.  In line, waiting to get a hot dog while its hot.

The vendor cart, a silver thing with a red tarp overhead and blank, colorful flags wagging in the wind, shined in the sunlight a dazzling yellow.  It reflected the sky, partially, blindingly.  It burned my gaze to look at but I squinted my eyes and blinked repeatedly to ease the pain.

I typically read in front of the vendor as I wait to get my hot dog while its hot, but the newspaper looked dull that day.  The headlines were slim, black lines of indeterminate intrigue.  I left the paper on the stand instead, casting hardened stares its direction as I sauntered away.

We were in front of the museum.  A gargantuan building of roman inspired architectural design; rows of long cement steps leading up to a Doric column flanked entrance.  Gray hovered along the building walls like lint caught on fabric.  It reeked antediluvian.  I never go to the museum, only to the vendor out front.  The museum intimidates me.  It imposes, its shadow groping across the front walk, tendrils stretching into the parking lot, into forever.  Darkness ever reaching.

“One with everything,” I said to the vendor.

The man in yellow departed, his hotdog hanging halfway from his mouth as he lifted his briefcase and opened an umbrella at once.  He nodded to me, I nodded return.  This was a Saturday greeting.  Saturday’s are easier days, days when everyone feels easy.

The vendor handed me my hotdog with everything: ketchup, mustard, relish, sauteed onions, sweet peppers, cucumber salt, all on a poppy seed bun, and propped neatly in a little white sheet of parchment paper.  I handed him my money, $1.50 even, and nodded a Saturday greeting.

Museums are places where history sleeps like a massive slumbering beast.  I imagine when history awakes one day, as I know it is wont to do, that it will breathe fire and spew venomous toxins onto the earth.  When that day comes I will hide beneath my blankets, which are colorfully decorated with box headed robots, and whimper until the end is nigh.  As for now, I steer clear of the museum.

I walked away and up the street a little.  Rain began pelting the sidewalk, and it felt good against my bare arms and feet.  Icy daggers on a chilly day.  I gobbled my hotdog up, still hot I noted satisfied I had gotten it on time, and swallowed the masticated mush hard down my throat.

On either side of the pitch black street, cars blazing by in slick watery blurs, people rushed to find shelter in public buildings and their own homes or workplaces.  Sometimes people work on Saturday, a shame.  That’s not how a Saturday should be spent.

It was a midwinter rain. Harsh, humiliating, violent, despite its size.  It knew how to rip into the world, unlike summer rain.  Summer rain is pathetic, wimpy even.  It has no power to it.  It doesn’t command fear the way winter rain does.  No one runs from a summer rain.  Sad, really.

I didn’t slow, hurry, nor alter direction of my gait.  I did not fear winter rain but relished it.  So few things could chill me to the bone as could a winter rain and I neither longed to rush from it nor sought to let it hinder my day’s objectives.

The rain increased its sluice.  Jagged edges gliding effortlessly through the thick, musty air.  I clambered across the street, foggy headlights bombarded me on all sides, car horns screeched reproach.

I caught hold of the black door of Werna Taverna, the red-brick building on the corner of 66th and G Street, creeper vines slowly ambling up its back alley wall, just as a gentleman all in white slipped inside.

Werna Taverna is not a Saturday place.  It is a place where Friday’s should be spent, but not – and never – Saturday.  I kept this in mind, weaving through the sparse crowd of patrons, each ever evidencing that Werna Tavern is best visited on Friday.  Of course, few of them could see me over their tall tankards of mead and through the musty haze of wasted life and burgeoning regret.

I found the barkeep mopping down the granite counter-top.  The rag he used looked as though it should have been retired years and months ago, little terry left on the cloth, more dirt than fiber clinging together to form the fabric.  He eyed me with one skeptical orb colored a sickly blue.  His hair fell in reddish curls to frame his deeply brown, square cut face.

“You the troll?” he questioned.

I tilted my head in mock confusion.  I remained silent, aloof.  It was best to be aloof in such situations.

“You are a troll, aren’t you?” he pressed.

I glanced around Werna Taverna as though expecting another troll to appear.  There weren’t many patrons over eight foot, covered in boulder sized muscles and thick, greasy black hair, with meaty jaws designed for cleaving bone, beady yellow eyes, sharply pointed teeth riddled with bits of ground up pig and cow, and long, lumpy noses.

“Do I look like a troll?” I answered.

He slung the rag over his shoulder and glared up, expectant, determined, at me.  His blue eye glinted a sudden flash of red, an explosion of monstrous fury quickly contained.

I sighed.  Cyclops never were any fun.

“Yes.  I am a troll,” I said, briefly my mother’s chastising voice hissed in my tall, pyramidal ear about proper manners, and I finished the introduction simply to make her proud, “The Cloverleaf Troll, to be exact.”

The barkeep grunted, a sound like a ravenous dog or the lead singer of a death-metal band.  He walked away, and I assumed the grunt was some archaic word for “wait here”, so I waited.  I considered the barstool, even attempted a sit, but it began to waver and shrieked protest beneath my buttocks, so I let it be and stood.  It’s not easy finding a place to sit when you weigh a half-ton.

I watched the patrons as I waited.  It seemed the natural thing to do.  Many of them were cyclops – not a surprise – Werna Taverna served the best rack of lamb appetizers I’d ever tasted.  At the end of the bar, however, an attractive woman with shuddering, shivering, tugging, coiling, roiling, hissing yellow snakes growing from her scalp shared a drink with an older man dressed in a neatly pressed pin-stripe suit, his hair was receding and his eyes were a soft brown.  He was well-to-do, I assumed, probably worked on Wall Street or at a large bank, judging from his aura.  Women always flocked to the well-to-do types, money was the only real love in life.

Myself, I gave up on love a long time ago.  It seemed the thing to do when I was young, impressionable, and had my heart unceremoniously ripped from my chest, thinly sliced, and served on a warm, dinner roll to ravenous she-beasts.  Trolls aren’t really cut out for romance, anyhow.

I checked my phone for the time, 1:17 pm, watched the overhead television permanently set to some Sports Broadcasting channel, last week’s rugby game was playing, and wondered why I hadn’t thought to ask for a drink before the barkeep left.  I hoped he didn’t take long to return, I had a few more places to go that day.

Most important of which, I absolutely had to stop at the grocery store.  I had run out of frozen waffles that morning and the store was having a sale that weekend on whole pigs, five for $1500 or ten gold coins, which, luckily, I had collected past dues from a leprechaun a few nights back, and now had an abundance of gold coins on hand.  I also needed to exchange some cash for quarters, tomorrow was laundry day, and the machine at the laundromat was always broken.

The barkeep returned moments later and set a parcel on the counter in front of me.  I studied the little thing, unmoving and indecisive.  It was wrapped in brown paper and tightly bound with white string.  Attached to the top there was a square white label written upon in black ink, in a long, swirling, spidery hand.  It simply read: The Troll.

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