THE WAITRESS AND THE CARPENTER

THE WAITRESS AND THE CARPENTER

The trip to Byron Bay had had the right effect on Simone’s skin. The green-eyed beauty that looked back at her from the mirror glanced down at a marred elbow, wherein resided a patch of peeled skin. The image in the mirror pouted. A shame. And would show in the restaurant, courtesy of her short sleeved white uniform. More like a dentist’s assistant, she thought wryly, but that’s what the Greek owner wanted, and the waitress always had sported a white crisp uniform, anyway. Simone liked the white uniform. It suited her sense of cleanliness. Virgo. In name, but not in nature. Not quite correct. In nature, but not in physical state. She giggled. She loved the crisp feel of her newly pressed white uniform, in spite of the peeling skin on the fold of her elbow.

The carpenter watched, transfixed, as his orbital sander slowly crept across the honey-coloured woodgrain. He was an aircraft slowly flying across the sand drifts of the Gobi Desert. The roar of the sander was the motor of his aircraft. It was a large piece of wood, an old length of two inch pine, whose two foot width was unheard of, these days. Mainly because there weren’t trees that old, anymore.
He was thinking about the girl, down at the little restaurant, or café, or whatever they called it.
Gently, but firmly, he smoothed the machine over the woody surface, caressing the silky grains, automatically searching for the imperfections.
From the verandah, up on the rise, he looked down over Manly Beach, felt the cool breeze blowing in from the sea with its faint aroma of disinfectant. Beyond wind-shredded Norfolk Pines, he could make out tiny surfboard riders, rising and falling on the blue-grey swell. Far out on the Pacific, where anchored tankers basked, patches of sunlight streamed down on the surface, making gleaming iridescent patches among the gunmetal grey shadows.
Time for lunch, and the blonde waitress, he thought. He turned off his client’s stereo, which was playing Mozart’s Clarinette Concerto, his favourite piece, and wandered out of the mansion, carefully shutting the door, and headed down the hill.
As he passed the old church, he noticed heavy grey clouds building up at a rapid rate. Lucky he was working indoors.
He had time up his sleeve. Had arrived early. Would work late. As the stormclouds welled up over the sleeping tankers, he sat on the sand of the beach, and contemplated the lives of the few joggers, and the wallowing surf riders.
A couple walked along the waterline, the man expounding on something exciting. His female companion stalked thoughtfully along, her hands clasped behind her back.
Could be him and the waitress, out there, walking hand-in-hand along the beach, murmuring shreds of past lives to each other.
He saw her in her white Bikini, walking beside him, her brown Australian limbs gold-tinted in the sunlight.
A flicker of lightning among the waiting ships A dull rumble.
He rose to his feet, and made his way to the Greek’s café.
Terry was a strange name for a Greek. However, that was the name he had assumed when he came to Australia, that Demitrios, or Dimitri, or Terry would become as one with the Australian nation. Not Con, or Cos, or even the Italianate Tony for him, but Terry.
Simone stirred the soup of the day, a mixture from boiled chickens, and various packaged soup mixes. She made sure there were real vegetables in it, however. Terry was easy going. She had him in the palm of her hand. If his wife had not been there as a cook, things might have been a bit tricky. Instead, a ‘feeling’ between them was all there was. A bit of rising and falling of the adrenalin, as they both hovered near each other, over the onions, or the toaster, or such.
Terry’s wife, Heather, was a Blonde from the Past. One of Terry’s previous waitresses, she had risen up the ladder as mistress, then wife, and now shared a comfortable life with him on the heights above Manly Vale, overlooking the golf course. She watched Simone carefully, as Simone took care not to let Terry overstep the mark. He was very vulnerable at this age, as well as being handsome, and a complete charmer. But she was immune. Or, almost. And Terry’s marriage, to Simone, was sacrosanct.
" Hi, sweetie. What’s a good lookin’ gal doin’ in a place like this?" The real estate man. Lived for his visit to her each lunchtime.
" Oh, hi, James. ", she said.
" You’ve got a gorgeous tan, dahls. Been away on holiday?"
" Yes, Byron Bay, actually."
" Why would a lovely thing like you leave a beautiful place Manly and go to the ends of the earth, like Byron Bay, might I ask?"
" Well, for one thing, the sun’s hotter up there, hence this…" She held out the peeling elbow. “…what can we do you for?”
" The usual, gorgeous. But hold the salt. I’m trying to preserve my arteries."
Just then, the strange bloke slouched in. Almost invisible, save for the fact that he was over six feet tall. He slumped into a corner seat, and flashed her a shy smile.
She put salt on the real estate man’s egg and lettuce sandwich. " Oops, sorry. I’ll make you another one."
" Don’t worry, sweets. One more dose of salt won’t hurt me. By the way, what’s the distraction?" He glanced over his shoulder at the newcomer.
" Oh, he comes in here every day. Gets on great guns with Terry."
The real estate man shuffled his feet. " Well, good luck. I’ll be getting along. See ya tomorrow." He flapped his wrist in a gesture of farewell, and fled out the door.
Simone certainly attracted some strange ones! First, a gay auctioneer, now this weirdo carpenter, who had all his scraps of paper out on the table, and was working out figures with a big, flat green pencil. She went up to his table.
" Hi! What’ll it be, today?"
He looked up, as if surprised. " Oh, the usual. With an egg?" He fancied he glimpsed a pink flush well up beneath her tan.
Strange fellow, she thought, as she brought him his cappucchino, and fussed about with his knife and fork.
The rain hit the street outside, clouding out the Corso, and obliterating the surfers brave enough to stay out.
" You made it in time", she said, vaguely waving toward the door.
" Mightn’t get back, that’s the trouble."
" You working far away?"
" Up on the hill, you know those big old houses up the top?"
" I know the ones. I live up there, myself."
She was talking too long. Terry’s little dark eyes glanced at her, like those of a curious reptile, peeping from behind the espresso machine. " Gotta go now. I’ll bring you your hamburger."
He sat and shuffled his bits of paper, and watched the rain cascading on the Corso….

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THE WAITRESS AND THE CARPENTER

HAMISH CUMING

SYDNEY, Australia

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Artist's Description

A SNIPPET OF LIFE, AN ULTRA SHORT, SHORT STORY, BASED LOOSELY ON REAL LIFE

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  • TedBlackall
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