“So with my new line of fancy hats….” Edna swung her arm over the back of the chair.
The girl with the big forehead snatched and stuffed the stack in her purse, viper style.
“Egghead put them back… So I’m sure you can see how I need to go beyond etsy.com.” Egghead obeyed and then slumped in her chair.
“…and you did put a dollar on the counter, right Egghead? So I’ve been doing a lot of research online…”
Egghead slid out of her chair and slapped a dollar on the counter. She went back to her table, opened her notebook to scribble the stellar comeback she could never say.
Dabs turned back to Edna “What is the proposal, exactly?”
Jolted out of her dreams, Edna sat up. “Well, I need a caretaker, someone to maintain the building while I’m’ traveling the crafts fairs!”
“But you don’t even know me.”
“I know you good enough. You see this was Henry’s dream, not mine. I never wanted this building.”
The radiator hissed, the stream of hot hair took its time to pass like gas between old cheeks.
“Oh for gods sakes.” Edna muttered as she lit a cigarette. “At least Henry paid for this dive before he died, so I just need a caretaker.”
“I don’t know, I just got here…” The word Dabs always looked for, the concise one that had many applications, danced on the tip of his tongue.
Edna grabbed his hand and pulled it to her chest. “Please, I’m drowning in chili! I’m just an old lady who wants to make hats.”
Dabs really wanted his hand back, so he nodded. Edna hopped up to the paper pile she called a desk. She dumped a dictionary in front of Dabs but it didn’t have definitions.
“You just have to sign the last page. The rest of it is just a formality.”
The word he had wanted, the one that he couldn’t quite grasp had become a lump in his throat.
“Its just for the summer, I’ll be back after the craft fair season.” Edna pushed the pile closer to Dabs.
Roaming around in his own thoughts, a breeze twirled his doubts into a “Why not?”
“You’re right, the best way to approach life is to ask yourself ‘Why no?’!” Edna said.
Dabs touched his own lips and wondered how his mouth could betray him.
“You seem like an artist in life: a man who grabs every adventure.”
Dabs sat back in that idea Liking it, he let his mind paint a new truth where he was the stranger Edna saw. After all, he did throw all of his plans with that ferry ticket into the creek. Then his eyes fell hard on the many pages of small print.
A gust of wind between the windows scattered the pile, leaving the last page.
Collecting the papers, Edna said. “The last page is the only one you really need.”
Facing the last page on the table, Dabs felt dizzy from the merry-go-round spin of his thoughts, so he signed the contract with large strong loops. Then the word that fumbled in his mind, the short but stout single syllable pierced him with balloon popping precision, “No”.
- How Ketchikan’s Weather Makes Us Pretty (aelasage.com)