Short Fiction

Garbage Man

I stiffed the waitress at the IHOP.  It’s not as hard as you might think.  I’m walking to my car at the edge of the parking lot, and I smell it even before I see him; the bus boy wheeling a red garbage can full of wet and lumpy black bags out to the dumpster.  The more aggressive crows are waiting on the dumpster’s fence; they don’t even “caw.”

He parks the garbage can right behind my car to off-load the trash bags. Sticky clumps of pancake, lemon wedges, empty creamers and eggshells slip out, fall on the blacktop.  I get in my car and turn up the A/C so it’s even louder than the radio.

I wait for the guy to finish his trash business when a shadow on the window frightens me.  It’s my waitress and the manager – their faces pale but their eyes steely.  They’re bent a bit to look into the window so I feel like an animal in a cage.  I roll down the window, leave the A/C blasting and the manager says into the wind, “Did you forget something?”   They’re not even nervous, like this happens all the time.

I can’t leave.  I can’t back out, but I can smell garbage and grease now, and I feel hot and red even with the A/C blasting.

The check was $10 and change, but I only have a ten and a single in my wallet.  I give her both bills.  The manager exhales away the stink of garbage. “Really, please don’t come back.”

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7 thoughts on “Garbage Man

    1. Eric! You make my day. Thank you so much. I’m challenging myself to write pieces under 300 words. It’s hard. To sharpen it to 100 words max is the next challenge.

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