by T. Gene Davis
“Nothing says good morning, Monday, like a cup of boiling hot cocoa with crunchy marshmallows.” Joshua spoke between gentle slurps. He sat on an ice-cold concrete bench wrapped in layers of coats and sweaters, accessorized by a scarf and tie.
Lucy examined Joshua’s perpetual scowl for any hint of humor. Steam drifted off the cup warming his hands. She rewrapped her scarf for the hundredth time and resumed pacing in an attempt to keep warm.
“Joshua, I never know when you’re being serious.”
He sipped his cocoa audibly crunching down on a marshmallow and almost managed a smile, but reverted back to pure scowl as his gaze fell on the concrete chess tables across the park. The tables started filling this time of the morning, and stayed somewhat full most daylight hours.
“Our murderer is here.”
Lucy looked for a new player at the chess tables. Darren must be the one in the khaki red and grey striped beanie with red-tinted sunglasses. Somehow he managed to look like he needed a bath, despite hiding under layers of clothes.
Darren looked up at his first victim of the day–an old guy. Darren put twenty down on the table under a rock big enough to keep the bill from blowing away. The old guy took a folded up bill from deep in a pocket of one of his coats and waved it back and forth in front of Darren’s face like it was some kind of big deal.
“You gonna play, or what?”
The old guy sat down across from him still waving the folded up twenty.
“Good morning, Darren.”
The old guy’s voice soothed him.
“How do you know my name? I don’t know you.”
The old guy smiled a horribly ugly smile. Darren couldn’t help but follow the bill with his eyes. He loved money. He’d do anything for money.
“Darren. I am your conscience.”
The old guy blinked out of existence. Darren jumped up in shock, slamming his thigh into the table.
“What the …”
Darren looked down. His money no longer rested under the rock. He looking at the chess board. He saw his king in check. He couldn’t remember any of it, but Darren had lost the game.
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of someone. He looked. She wasn’t there. Of course. She couldn’t be there. Still, the feeling that she was there just out of sight bothered him.
Lucy examined the menu. She crinkled up her nose at the prices, and reminded herself that Joshua was paying.
“I see he confessed to police.” She made small talk. “Six hours. Impressive.”
“Probably saved his life.”
“The hallucination will fade now that he’s come clean. The pig-headed ones usually end up eating a bullet.”
Lucy looked up from her menu with wide eyes. Joshua continued examining his menu.
“You’d do that? Kill a man?”
“Only to save lives.” He set his menu down. “I’m so hungry. Where is that waiter?”
Lucy set down her menu.
I’m experimenting with some vignettes about Joshua and Lucy. I’m feeling them out. I see some potential with them.