Fortune Cookie Challenge

3 08 2008

This short was written as a challenge piece at my recent writers’ weekend. The task was to include all five of our “fortunes” from our fortune cookies at dinner. Below are the “fortunes” and the scene I wrote.

 

A secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection.

Aim at the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.

Confidence is the hinge on the door to success.

All the little things will add to a happy journey.

All men should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.

 

 

“Good morning, welcome to Quiiiiktrip!”

I glance at my Rolex and back at the clerk, a wrinkled specimen with stringy grey hair. It’s 1:15 in the afternoon.

He gives me a gap-toothed grin and crosses hairy arms on the checkout counter. A snake tattoo on his forearm writhes at the movement. “Bit warm today, isn’t it?”

I peruse the candy selection and pretend to be absorbed in my decision. Skittles, Reeses, M&M’s? Better make it a granola bar.

“All that heat makes a body sweat pails, don’t it.”

“Buckets, you mean.”

“Now, this is what you need.” The clerk reaches behind the counter and produces a bottle of cheap cologne. He leans forward with an air of imparting his great-grandmother’s zucchini bread recipe. “I guarantee, a secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection.”

“No, thanks.” I doubt Ginny would let any admirers near me, secret or otherwise, no matter how much she might hate me now. I eye a lampshade straw hat in disbelief and edge towards the collectibles isle.

“You’re from the coast, aren’t ya. A lawyer or some such.”

I raise my eyes and stare, hoping he’ll take the hint. “Doctor.”

“And now you’re heading back home to your roots.” The clerk chewed a sucker stick with slow precision. “That’s great. My uncle says to aim at the stars, but keep your feet on the ground. Or something like that.”

“Actually, I’m heading to Pennsylvania for a medical convention. I’m going to patent a new surgical instrument.”

“Now then,” The clerk said, as if I we were discussing the neighbor’s soy crop. Bristles that passed for his eyebrows twitched. “They say confidence is the hinge on the door of success.

I give him a restrained smile and turn back to my perusal of the shelves. My Tylonel appears two aisles over between the canned soup and the nose hair trimmers. I take the bottle to the counter.

“That’s it?” The clerk plucked a souvenir key ring from the rack beside me. “You need this too. And some candy. All the little things will add to a happy journey.

I sigh and slap my credit card down. “If you say so.”

“‘Course I say so. That’s what I get paid for!” He gurgled and wheezed for several seconds before I realized he was laughing.

“Right.” I take my Tylonel and make for the door. Three more feet—

“Hey, and don’t forget!” The clerk straightens, still wheezing. “All men should try to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.

I hesitate and then shove the door open, the bell on the door jingling. I shake my head. Either he was being very profound or I have no idea what he was talking about.

Or maybe I do. How could he know?

 

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