This is a story I wrote a few years ago, and was unsuccessful finding someone to publish it. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Jack crushed his cigarette into the ashtray then reached for another from the pack that was sitting on the dashboard of his car. Absently, he lit the new cigarette, his second of the two he allowed himself each day, as he stared through the rain washed windshield and into the coffee shop across the street.
Lisa was in there. He’d seen her enter the shop just as he had pulled into his parking slot. She hadn’t seen his car, but then she wasn’t looking for him. As he smoked, he watched her order something from the counter, then walk to one of the tables and sit facing towards the door. She then reached into the satchel she had set on the floor beside her and pulled out a sheaf of papers.
For several minutes, nothing happened. Lisa sat quietly drinking from her cup, as she looked over the papers, pen in hand which she used every so often. It began to rain harder, so Jack turned his ignition to auxiliary so he could turn on his windshield wipers. In between the back and forth movement of the wiper blades, the glare of headlights from passing cars made visibility more difficult. Jack considered getting out of his car for a better view, but he didn’t want to risk being seen by anyone, at least not yet.
Cars passing by on the street caused Jack to remember when he first saw Lisa, on a rainy night much like this one. It had been a fairly quiet evening at the auto parts store where Jack worked. Jack was putting the last remnants of a shipment away, carefully lining up boxes of fuel filters when she entered.
“Can you help me?” She said as she approached the counter.
“What do you need?” Jack replied as he put the last box in place and walked towards her.
“I think I need new windshield wiper blades. The ones I have now are just pushing the rain drops around. I can’t see a thing when it’s raining hard.”
Jack led her to the wiper display. He could see her blue Nissan parked right outside. It was the only one in the lot besides his and his manager’s who was somewhere in the back of the store.
“These should do nicely for you.” He said, picking a package up off the display and handing it to her to look at. He then noticed how short she was, barely coming to his shoulder. Her petite, fragile looking features made her look almost child-like. Only the obvious curves gave clues as to her real age.
“Oh, good. I’ll take them.” She said taking the package from Jack.
She walked with him to the checkout. As he rang her purchase up, she asked him to help put the new blades on her car, admitting a complete lack of skill in that realm. Jack had taken off the old blades and replaced them with the new ones as she stood beside him holding an umbrella over them both. Jack still remembered the smell of her perfume, a light flowery scent that he later learned was of jasmine.
“Thanks so much for all your help.” She had said, climbing into her car.
“Anytime, and come again soon.” It was the standard statement he made to customers every day, but for her he meant it. The scent of her perfume lingered in the store for a few minutes after she left but it stayed in his memory long after she drove off.
Jack had the same wiper blades on his own car and he watched them for a moment as they went back and forth, slowly, consistently stripping the water away to the sides of his windshield. They were worth the premium price you paid for them. He put the cigarette package into the glove compartment, and then took out a container of handi-wipes which he used to remove the last traces of nicotine from his fingers.
Lisa reached into her purse and pulled out her cell phone, looked at it for a moment then set it down on the table. Jack looked at his watch to see what time it actually was. 8:03 the watch read.
“I’m late.” She had said, as she stood on the other side of the gas pump from him. “I’m supposed to be at my friend’s wedding in fifteen minutes and silly me forgot that I needed gas”
“Well you look nice.” Jack had told her from his own side of the pump.
“That’s real sweet, but celery green is not my color.”
Jack didn’t agree. He thought that Lisa’s dress was perfect and displayed her soft curls wonderfully. He loved her hair up with the tendrils hanging down along her face. He wanted to tell her that, but instead said. “I hope you have a great time and pass along my well wishes to the bride and groom.”
“Thanks. I will.” She put the gas nozzle back onto its slot. “I sure hope Gretchen doesn’t mind the smell of gasoline, because I feel that I reek of it.”
“I have some hand wipes that may help.” Jack said quickly.
“Really? Oh that would be wonderful. Can I have one?”
Jack opened his door, reached into glove compartment and got a wipe out for Lisa. She used it on her hands and then started to walk to the nearby trashcan to throw out.
“Oh I’ll throw that away for you.” Jack had said. “You’re late for a wedding remember?”
“Yes I am. Thanks again.”
Too soon, Lisa climbed into hers and drove off, with a hand waving goodbye through the window. Jack had folded the used sanitation wipe Lisa handed to him, and put it into his pocket. Continue reading