Die, Mug, Silence

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The waitress eyed his mug like a Black Friday shopper eyeing the father who just grabbed the last Tickle-Me-Elmo. His knuckles white from keeping a tight grip through the handle around the sphere of the terracotta cup. His eyes glancing at the waitress and back at the coffee, half full and still steaming in his hand. The waitresses grip on the coffee pot equally as tight, a white band appearing where her choke hold on the handle, pressed against her wedding band and drained the blood around that finger.

He watched as she delivered a plate of egg whites to an older man two tables away. Then she walked over to his table.

“How is everything?” her question a distraction to her real intention. A rope-a-dope as her coffee pot hand darted forward across the table toward his mug.

“Everything is great, thank you.” He said, taking a sip from his coffee and bringing closer to his being, away from the hovering mother ship of coffee.

“Great, I’ll be back to check on you.” She wavered eyeing the mug, her hand beginning to shake from the extension of the nearly full pot in her hand. The moment passed and she retreated, moving on to the next table, where their mugs were exposed, and she filled to the brim each one with steaming coffee.

His mind was quiet. Eating alone, he’d become accustomed to the silence in his immediate vicinity. The conversations and cacophony of forks, knives and cups clattering spilled over into his space, but that was to be expected.

The waitress stopped at the coffee maker and began reloading her pot. She glanced back at his table; the mug still locked in his hand. She nearly spilled the coffee but there was more than enough in the chamber to cock back and fire more coffee into his cup, no matter how full it may have been.

She walked straight back to his table. “Refill?” The pot hovering inches from his mug-holding hand.

“No thank you,” he replied.

“Are you sure?” She insisted, pushing the pot closer to him until they nearly made a toast.

“Yes, I’m quite satisfied with the amount I have, one cup is enough.”

“Well, refills are free, sir, don’t be shy.” She was on the attack. He still stayed on the polite defense.

“That’s a great policy but I think I’ll have had my fill with just this one cup, thank you.”

“Okay, I’ll be back to make sure.” She fired back. This shot wiped out his front line and civility became the casualty.

“Ma’am, no need to come back. I only want one cup of coffee.” The smile on his face turned a few degrees to a thin line.

“Okay, we’ll I’ll be back in a few minutes to make sure. People change their minds.” She threatened to leave but her smile faded, and she stayed, her arm shaking from holding the full pot out in front of her.

“Do not come back. I have finished my meal and once I finish this very cup of coffee, this single cup of coffee, I will pay my bill and leave. Should you continue insisting, I will be forced to leave only a 10% gratuity.”

“Sir, are you not happy with our service?” Her brow furrowed and the line became a frown. His brow furrowed and the thin line became a frown.

“Your service is excellent, perhaps a bit too much. It could be said that there is too much service. And if there should be too much of something, it is still inadequate.”

“I will refill that mug.” She pushed the pot against his mug, threatening to tilt its spout into his mug.

“You will not.” He pulled the mug away.

“I will provide this service as per our policy.”

“Policy be damned, I would rather die than accept your refill.”

Dangerous, Adjustment, Ache

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

A limp. A fucking limp. That’s what I’m left with now. I was carrying groceries from the car to my house, maybe 20 steps away and I misremembered the step leading from the front door into the living room.

Like collapsing a tent pole, all the bones in my leg broke in a chain reaction; the ankle popped, pushing up my tibia and fibula up into my knee cap with a crunch, bruising my femur and dislocating my hip. Or at least that was the doctors best guess according to my account and the x-ray.

The good news is, I no longer have to carry the groceries. I think I’ve already mentioned the bad news.

Of all the things in the world that are constantly trying to injure, maim and kill us, it was my memory and pride that landed me here.

“Take one bag of groceries at a time,” my mom used to say.

“Take one bag of groceries at a time,” my wife used to say.

“Why make 3, 4, or 5 trips when I can make one.” I used to say.

Who knew it would be so dangerous? Not I. Who knows it can be dangerous? I do, now.

I’m getting nearly recovered, or at least to the closest recovery I’ll be able to get to. I can walk with a limp but I can walk. When it rains or is about to rain, my bones ache but I can walk.

My buddy helps with the groceries. He’s the neighbor across the street. He carries them in, two at a time (show-off) and leaves them for me on the counter. I can manage putting them away.

Except for today, I don’t always need to buy flour, so I keep it on the top shelf, just out of reach.

Well, I’m not an invalid, I can still do things. So I lift up my good leg onto the counter below, then I pull up the bad one, so I’m kneeling next to the salt, olive oil and cook books.

I grab the flour and just edge it over the lip of the shelf. It’s sticking out, so I reach and feel everything stretching, from finger to shoulder to back to hips to toes.

Losing my balance, I fall backwards. My neck slams down on an open cabinet door below, which snaps my head one way and my body the other.

A wheelchair. A fucking wheel chair. That’s what I’m left with now. I’ll have to make another minor adjustment to my routine but at least I don’t have to carry in my groceries or put them away.