Fiction Friday: Eavesdropper

As mentioned in the previous blog post Friday is for fiction. For my first Fiction Friday I’m posting the beginning of a tale I started today because the story I need to finish was being uncooperative. It did the trick and lubricated the gears a bit and let me get back to work. Once the larger piece is completed I will be coming back to this.

Far back in a booth at the corner of the diner where the light was dim sat a group of four. They were young, what passed for hip, and loud. With the brash unconcern of youth they didn’t care who could hear their conversation or who was annoyed by it. Theirs was the confidence of a generation not yet aware that life would have its own plans for all that energy and fierceness, that the promises of their boundless oppurtunity spun on an axis of hard work and luck. Their talk was purposeful and inappropriate.

Four booths away from them, in another just like it, sat a man alone. He had a woolen gray coat over his hunched shoulders that was old enough and used enough that the elbows were shiny and smooth. A tan baseball cap was set firmly on his head and the brim was pulled down so that he had to tilt his head far back to look anyone in the eye. It gave anyone who spoke with him the impression that he was rude and dismissive by default. On the back of the hat in white cursive was the name “Mitch”. He rarely spoke to anyone. He nursed a coffee as though it were something stronger and rarely ordered food. On occasion a waitress would enter his orbit to fill his cup and possibly drop a packet or two of creamer. This action was transacted in the comfortable silence of regularity.

He was not an old man by any means. His hair was not yet gray, at least not entirely, but he had noticed a few outriders in the last few months. Like many taciturn men who find themselves increasingly alone as the spectre of age creeps up behind them he had become a keen observer of people. Watching the young people in the far booth he didn’t feel envy or the ache of loss for his past years, only curiosity. Mostly, he wonderd what their stories were. At one time he had hoped to be a writer. Life had intervened and his path had followed a different route but the desire had never entirely left him. Over the years he had become convinced that everyone had a story, a prime narrative that contained the very core of who they were, and if you knew it you could know that person more intimately than any lover…

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