Friday Fast Fiction: Anxiety

DSC_0219 - CopyA man in a black raincoat entered a dress shop. A young woman approached him.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Goyer’s Pretzel Factory”

“My dad shut the business two years ago. I’m his daughter–this is my place.”

“I’m an old friend. Is he around?”

When the daughter said her father rarely came by, the man handed her a card and left. The card had one word, “Max,” and a phone number.

Why was the man wearing a raincoat when no rain was in sight? Shouldn’t he have known her father’s address? He’d lived in the same house for 40 years. Maybe she wouldn’t have had these thoughts if the stranger’s appearance had been kinder. He resembled a prize fighter–deep set eyes, crooked nose and a square jaw—too young to be an “old friend.” She wished he hadn’t come in and considered what her father might have done to prompt a visit from someone she’d turned into a mobster.

That night over the phone her father told her he didn’t know any “Max” and didn’t want the number. She could tell he was lying.

She couldn’t sleep. The next day she paced nervously in the store, expecting Max to enter with a drawn gun. He never showed up, yet she kept his return alive for weeks until her anxiety reached the point that she had to close the shop early one day after seeing a man in a black raincoat pass by the storefront. She went home to drink whiskey, an act that became a dangerous routine.

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