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The Paradox: Drama Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on March 19, 2017

"...... Gathers No Moss."

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I am a drifter, a vagrant, a hobo, a rolling stone. Yeah, I like that last one. I'm rocking and rolling through town after town.

I never stay long. I come in, get the lay of the land, meet the right people, do my jobs and get out. Quite often, it's only a weekend.

I walk down main street with my backpack swinging from my right shoulder until I find the inevitable establishment with the name Diner written across a plate glass window in black ten inch, block letters. It's Saturday morning. I open the door and bells jangle my arrival.

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I don't talk much. I let others do that, and they usually tell me everything I need to know. I set my gear down on the red, plastic seat cover and take my place across the tabletop in the booth. I order coffee and something called the Engineer's Breakfast from a pretty young blonde named, Bonnie.

I eat my breakfast. The restaurant fills with people. I listen.

Little Wendy Carmichael's dog, a border collie, got hit by a car and killed right there on second street and the highway where they live. Thanks for the address to where I can find a single mom and a pretty little girl.

Widow Dalrymple is telling everyone that she won the lottery. My ears perk up when I hear about someone winning the lottery. I won it once, myself. Apparently, the widow won quite a lot too, and now everybody knows how much she despises banks since they foreclosed on her late husband's and her farm. She took a lump sum payout. I can't imagine there is a person in the diner who isn't thinking what I'm thinking. Is she actually keeping all that money in her house?

Last week's thunderstorm knocked a tree over onto the garage of the young waitress, Bonnie, and the insurance company says that tree should have been removed a long time ago because it was dying. They won't pay.

George, the retired postal carrier, says his pension check is late, but the Federal Employees Retirement System says it should be in his mailbox tomorrow or the next day. Thank you for that valuable information.

I take notes of all this on my napkin. It's amazing the kind of information folks pass around without even giving it a second thought. Most of these people would cringe at the thought of writing a post on FaceBook about winning the lottery and hating banks. But not here in their local diner. Here's the equation the widow is broadcasting: I won the lottery + I hate banks = the money is in my house.

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I stretch out on top of a picnic table in a park across the street from the diner. The sun beams down on me from its apogee. I roll up on my side when I hear the bells. Widow Dalrymple comes out and walks along the street to a 1950s cape cod three doors down from the diner. George, the retired mail carrier, walks three blocks in the opposite direction, finds nothing in his mailbox and goes inside. Bonnie, the waitress with the smashed in garage, walks to her car at the end of her shift. Ethel, the owner of the diner waves from the door. Bonnie thanks Ethel for giving her the weekend off so she can go to the city to see her sick aunt. I write down her license plate number. I have a friend who will help find the address.

#

On Saturday morning, I stand on the corner of Second Street and the highway looking at the house where little Wendy Carmichael plays in the yard. Her mother calls from the house and Wendy goes inside. I use the opportunity to run up to the front porch and hide in the shrubbery. Wendy comes back outside to play. Half an hour later she runs back inside, and I to run to the street.

Source

I walk from one side of town to the other. On the way, I stop at Bonnie's house. The gate to the seven-foot fence is unlocked, and I enter the back yard. The garage is locked, but there is a gaping hole in the roof. I peek in the window and my heart thuds in my chest at the sight of a 1967 VW Beetle with an authentic ruby red paint job. A flatbed truck backs through the gate with everything I need.

Later, when I walk by the diner, George, the retired postal guy and the widow Dalrymple are inside. I go to George's house first. Then I double back to the widow's house. Of course, it wasn't enough that she had a mountain of cash lying around loose someplace, she also left the door unlocked.

I find the money and am nearly finished when the back door opens. I duck into the only room available, the bedroom, then the closet. I hear voices muffled by the clothes around me and several walls between me and their sources. They come closer until I recognize the widow Dalrymple and George, the retired postal carrier.

Fortunately, these two lovers are well into their senior years, and the sounds emanating from the bed don't last long but subside until all I can hear is steady, deep breathing. I'm able to slip out of the closet undetected and into the living room. I finish what I came to do, and walk out the back door.

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It's Monday morning, and I stop at the diner on my way out of town. The place is packed with customers. Bonnie is back from the city, George is present as is the Widow Dalrymple. Everyone is happy. I've seen enough. I head off in the direction of the highway.

So here's a breakdown of what I accomplished over the weekend. I had found an overdue notice for the house payment in George's mailbox and an older one on the kitchen table. I know it's illegal to mess with mailboxes, but so is breaking and entering and most of the other things I do. I left an envelope containing enough money for his house payment. That's why he was so concerned about the pension check being late. The guy got a bonus, though, money from me even though he's sleeping with the wealthiest woman in town.

I left a simple note for the widow Dalrymple, encouraging her to visit a bank to see how much more secure her money could be with them. I left the note on top of the pile of lottery money inside her house.

Bonnie came home to find a stack of maple wood in her back yard instead of a tree leaning against her garage. The hole in the roof had been fully repaired.

Source

I'm approaching second street, where it intersects with the highway. A little girl is playing in the yard with a black and white border collie puppy. I stop and watch. The child's mother waves to me. The puppy runs over and sniffs my hands and shoes. The mother says that someone left the puppy and the new dog kennel on the front porch the day before while the two of them worked on Wendy's homework inside.

When I come to town, rolling through like a stone that has been dislodged on the side of a hill, it may look like a random, bouncing stone, but there is a purpose. As I make my way through, I am leaving parts of myself behind, giving, not taking, experiencing the paradox that to be whole as a human is to give of oneself.

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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 months ago from Central Florida

      Beautiful story, Chris! A modern-day Robin Hood. You blended the story well. I didn't know our rolling stone was a good guy until the end. Very enjoyable read!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Oh, this guy would go to jail just as fast as somebody who broke in and took things, I have no doubt. But I like to at least try to pull the wool over the eyes of my readers for part of a story sometimes. Is that fair? I did it in another story called "The Purse." I think I've probably milked this technique dry on HP. haha.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 3 months ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I liked the way your character took time to notice certain habits of people and the environment around him. I don't agree with the character taking the law in his own hands and playing Robin Hood. But I congratulate you for building a character, a drifter, who likes to write his own rules. There are plenty of them out there. You added nice touches of humor to the story.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Manatita, Sometimes I like to lead my readers to despise the character and then make them backtrack when they realize he was up to good, not bad. Maybe it isn't fair to mess with people like that. But it is fun. Thanks for seeing the ending as it was intended.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 months ago from london

      A pretty comforting and insightful piece at the end.

      Funny the way Insurance sales-people always look for an excuse not to pay. Nice story, my hobo. I like all those paper notes displayed.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ruby, I'm glad it sneaked up on you. Maybe slightly predictable, but it was fun to write.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 months ago from Southern Illinois

      What a complete surprise! It's good to read a story of a man with a heart. I loved it!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Becky, I went back over the story after your comment. I fixed a few things and clarified some weak places. I am hoping that the contrast between his behavior and his later explanations is more than striking. Thanks for reading today.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 3 months ago from Hereford, AZ

      Beautiful story. I was worried for a few chapters. People do talk too much when they feel comfortable.

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