I write short stories. I own surprisingly few pairs of shorts. I sometimes short circuit.
"Alana" sounds like "A lotta" = A lotta shorts.

Take the title however you like.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Giver



When Linda put her wedding rings into her change purse it was for protection. Inspecting used bicycles at BUY reCycles was a job that put jewelry in danger; she always liked to put it away. But not too far away.



On this particular Friday, a young couple came in looking for a retro-style ladies’ cruiser.

“You’ll probably be interested in this. It just came in.”



They ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the 1970’s orange-red bike, complete with fenders, hand-brakes, 5-speeds, a side mirror and a bell.
The woman’s eyes lit up at that bell.
“It’ll probably go for about 65 dollars tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?”
“Yea. We only sell ‘em on Saturdays.”
“But we want to buy it now. We’ll give you the money right now. Cash.”
“Well, we only take cash but I can’t sell it to you now. I’m sorry. It’s the only way to make it fair.”
The woman spoke to her husband when she said, “Yea, so fair it’s unfair. It’s like an inconvenient fairness.” To which he replied, “Damn hippies.” And all of this they said soft enough to sound private but loud enough to be unmistakably public.
Linda wiped her hands on a cloth and got back to work, initiating her yogic breathing. She was volunteering. She was on a higher plane. She couldn’t be bothered with people like them. They probably don’t even recycle. Look at their designer shoes – what are they doing here in the first place? Probably just want to make themselves feel like they’re doing something good for the world. Or worse yet! – They probably just wanted to save on gas and hadn’t given the slightest thought towards greenhouse gasses.
But Linda was the one who was literally saving the planet: cleaning it up one dirty, discarded bike at a time.
Almost 5:00. Linda had plans to go to the Farmer’s Market quickly (they close at 6!) and then make some tofu, chickpea and sprout salad on mixed greens – organic! – with homegrown tomatoes and some wine she’d made herself, in recycled bottles, of course. It didn’t always turn out great but it was organic and sulphite-free and she was pretty sure she’d got the recipe down this time and couldn’t wait to try it. The waiting was intense. That was her one downfall. She couldn’t stand to wait.
The couple approached her again just as she was about to tell Billy, the six-foot-eight 50-year-old autistic man who also volunteered there that she was planning to duck out a bit early and could he just not touch the bike she’d been working on because she’d be in tomorrow to finish it.
“So what time do you open tomorrow?”
“Ten.”
“BUT YOU SHOULD GET HERE EARLY! IF YOU WANT THAT BIKE YOU HAVE TO GET HERE EARLY BECAUSE PEOPLE LINE UP AND WAIT TO GET IN,” Billy shouted. Shouting was his only form of communication.
“What? Really?”
“YES! ONE TIME A GUY SLEPT OVERNIGHT IN A TENT TO GET A BIKE HE WANTED. YOU BETTER GET HERE EARLY! IF YOU WANT THAT BIKE!”
The couple was in shock. Linda didn’t know why she wanted to soothe them. Must have been her natural empathy. Damn her bleeding heart – she couldn’t have hated this couple more than if she’d found out they ate red meat.
“Well, it’s not quite that serious. Just try to be here about two hours early. Bring a good book!”
The woman seemed more interested than her husband; almost giddy, in fact. He did not appear amused in the slightest and looked as if he’d suddenly discovered the walls were covered in cow shit. His nose crinkled.
“I’ll be here!” the woman declared wholeheartedly. She seemed to really mean it. She whispered to her husband, “Can we hide the bike behind some other ones?”
“No,” he said, with a look Linda’s way, “that wouldn’t be fair.”
“I don’t understand how coming two hours early makes it fair. That’s not fair for the person who comes when it opens. If they only sell on Saturdays then everyone should come at the same time or for only one hour or something. But tomorrow, what if someone gets here at the same time as me? Who gets it then? I mean, it’s a used bike, for God’s sake. The only way to make it fair, really when you think about it, is to let people buy what they want when they want it. Can you imagine if the rest of the world worked like this? McDonald’s drive through tells you if you want a BigMac they only sell ten of ‘em at ten in the morning so if you want one then you’d better…”
Linda thanked the God she didn’t believe in that they were gone. At this point, she didn’t even care that they obviously disregarded the way McDonald’s tortures the cows they so selfishly devour. Imagine – your first idea for an analogy about economics and equality is McDonald’s! What a topsy-turvy world.
She washed up quickly in the back sink, grabbed her purse and trotted downstairs. As she was about to hop on her bike she noticed a homeless man playing something unrecognizable but soothing on harmonica. And, doing as she always did when she saw someone less fortunate than herself, she pulled out her change purse. In fact, homemade from mom’s old recliner's retro fabric, her change purse had only one function: to give to the needy, whether it be tip jars, the Sick Kids canisters at the grocery store or the very homeless. She always paid for everything else in bills – and so she always had change.
Linda dug the tips of her fingers into her change purse.
“Here you go, brother. Namaste.”
The sun glinted off of something in the man’s beggar basket as Linda rode off humming John Mayer and imagining the possible Fair Trade finds she was about to discover at the Farmer’s Market; a handcrafted clay bowl or a bird sculpture to add to her collection, perhaps!

The homeless man, Martin, gingerly picked up her half carat round diamond solitaire engagement ring and Irish braided sterling silver band between two of his dirty finger nails, which he’d nibbled to a point so he could pick on his guitar. He grinned a toothless grin as he forgot Linda and remembered that the pawn shop two streets over was open until 6pm. A drunk guy outside the Royal Hotel had once given him a genuine Rolex watch, which he’d pawned straight away, so he peaked now into BUY reCycles and caught the clock. It pointed to 5:15.
Plenty of time. He could pawn the jewelry, buy some booze and still get over to the Farmer’s Market, on his recycled bicycle, to panhandle outside the “ReCrafters” tent where those overweight knit-crazy housewives sell their homemade crafts made from recycled materials.

“Recyclers love to give,” thought Martin, as he dabbed his sunken chest with patchouli, tracing the deep V of his flower print shirt. “And it’s a good thing, too.”

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About Me

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I'm Lanii. I try to Be Good. It doesn't always work. "Call Me Lanii" is sort of about that - my inner and outer triumphs (what?) and struggles. "Alana Shorts" is sort of about that, too: I draw way too much inspiration from the crazy and strange events that actually happen to me and end up writing very little 'fiction'. I usually have my tongue quite thoroughly stuck in my cheek.