by Jef Blocker
"The two things that scare me most are marrying a guy that beats the crap out of me, and my father dying before we make peace with each other." Violet said it casually, as offering that butter pecan was her favorite flavor of ice-cream. She stared out the plate glass window, watching pedestrians scurry by in wide-screen close-up. Violet removed the cigarette from her mouth and tapped it on the ashtray as if she were a magician. A menthol ghost escaped from her nostrils before fading away, leaving only the violent red of a lipstick stain on the vanishing butt.
I put down my rag and cast my eyes upon Violet. Her powder blue uniform was a collision of crisply starched edges hiding under an apron of snowy white. Her bottle-red hair was pulled tightly behind her head disappearing under her hat. She had the profile of a comic book superhero’s girlfriend, but her beauty was beginning to fade under the relentless sunlight that normally shined through the window. The rain softened her features today. There was a weariness to her posture that called to mind a willow tree that had spent the night in a hurricane, its slender trunk threatening to snap any minute. I found myself everything I thought I knew about her.
The bell on the door jingled. Violet snuffed the cigarette out as the "Fat Man" meandered into the doughnut shop. "He's a sprinkles man," Violet had mentioned on my first day on the job. "I never trust a sprinkles man. They don't ever grow up."
"Mornin', Violet," he said, tipping his hat at her.
Violet smiled at Fat Man, pouring him a cup of coffee as he took his usual seat at the counter. Without asking or being told, she pulled three creamers out of her pocket and dropped them next to his steaming java. Fat Man picked them up, peeled back the foil tops with his stubby fingers, and poured the contents—one-by-one—into his coffee. He peered into the hot liquid as he stirred, turning the clear blackness into a murky creaminess that revealed no secrets.
Violet pulled a piece of tissue paper from under the counter and reached under the glass to collect the usual doughnuts... with sprinkles. Mechanically, she placed them onto a paper plate and set them down in front of the Fat Man. As if on automatic pilot, she began to scribble his ticket without a second thought.
"You know, Violet, I've been thinking. Maybe I should try one of those jelly filled doughnuts." Violet's pencil lead broke, sending it careening off the side of the pad; it was like a car that has a blow-out and spins out of control over the edge of a cliff. Trouble is, she never hit ground... she was still falling. Violet eyed him suspiciously. "What?" He asked.
"Let me get this straight," she said. "You want a jelly filled doughnut?"
Fat Man looked at her as if this were a test. "Yeah..."
"You want a goddamned jelly filled doughnut?"
He leaned back, confused. Obviously, he had misjudged her, but what should he do now? "Uh... that's right."
Violet snatched the sprinkled doughnuts off his plate and threw them in the trash. She reached under the glass and grabbed two jelly filled doughnuts with her bare hands and slammed them down onto Fat Man's plate. She grabbed a damp rag and began to wipe down the counter. Violet appeared to be frightened. Her hand moved rapidly along the Formica surface. She kept brushing a lock of red hair away that kept falling into her eyes.
Fat Man watched her from where he sat. "Violet?"
"Yeah?" She replied, urgently pushing the rag over the counter.
Fat Man hesitated, his doughnuts untouched. "I was wondering if sometime you might like to go out with me." Violet froze. She slowly turned to face him. "Well?" He asked. "Will you go out with me?" She stared at him for what felt like an eternity before running off into the kitchen. Fat Man sighed and contemplated his breakfast.
My heart went out to him. Not knowing what to do, I approached Fat Man. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. He gazed up at me, guilt stretched across the feeble smile on his face. With a loud grunt, Fat Man jabbed the doughnuts with his finger. Startled, I jumped back with a cry, but Fat Man remained fixated on the scarlet stickiness seeping out of the doughnuts.
After a moment, he pulled a few bucks out of his pocket and threw them down on the counter. The jingling of the bells brought me to my senses just in time to see Fat Man disappear into the confusion and camouflage of the rain. I never saw him again.
Sporty yet casual, Jef is a native Texan transplanted to Atlanta. He is a novelist, screenwriter, poet, and essayist, with a focus on making unusual people and circumstances relatable to everday readers. Jef has an abiding love for 80s music--especially Bananarama.