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Double Double 


"Careful, it's hot."

I took the coffee from her outstretched arm. I peeled back the plastic tab then laced my exposed fingers around the warm red cardboard cup. It felt comforting in my chilled hands.

"Thanks. I'll get the next one." Steam rose in a wavy line in front of my face. I took a sip, gratefully discovering Hailey had ordered me a double-double. I wanted the calories and sugar boost. I tried to remember if I'd eaten anything today. I suspected not but I wasn't certain.

We'd been sitting on Spring Garden Road all morning, with nothing but a few quarters in my open guitar case to show for it. We'd fallen into a lull, not making eye contact or attempting to speak to the passersby. That always had poor results. We needed to look worth helping, not hopeless.

"Do you think we ought to move? There isn't much going on here," Hailey said.

She might have been right but I wasn't motivated to get up. "No. We're settled here. Give it a bit." I knew that if we went to the Willow Tree intersection and knocked on car windows we might collect enough for lunch but that required more energy than I could muster. Maybe after my coffee, I told myself. I sipped slowly to make it last.

I looked at the legs walking by intermittently, imaging the lives of their owners: Shiny black loafers, argyle socks, black suit paints (lawyer). High-heeled leather boots, pencil skirt (executive). Scuffed Timberlands, jeans (privileged teenager cutting school).
Feet sped up as they walked by us.

"Spare any change?" I said, but half-heartedly. Some days you just didn't have a lot of energy to work your job.

I missed Buster. He'd been a good guard dog, lying placidly during the day in the sleeping bag, keeping watch over me at night. But with a heavy heart I'd dropped him off at the SPCA last week and said good-bye. Pitbulls are expensive to feed and more importantly the shelter didn't allow dogs. There had been too many nights this winter that I had to resort to sleeping at the shelter. I hated the way the cots there were lined up in rows and you could hear people fart, cry out and roll around all night long. But it was better than being a frozen corpse under a bridge come morning.

I heard the clanging of coins hit the shredded thin blue velvet lining inside the guitar case. I glanced down and saw gold. "Thanks dude!" I shouted non-ironically as high tops, track pants (gym rat) walked off. Loonies added up to a meal much faster than anything silver. "You're welcome. You take care buddy," said the voice trailing off.

Hailey stood up to stretch her legs. Her body was twitching and I knew she wanted a smoke.

"Sit down, would ya?" Her nervous energy could be annoying. I needed a partner who was as mellow as me. Hailey was the fidgety type and now that she had caffeine in her it would be worse for the next half-hour.

My coffee was finished and that made me sad. I drained the last drop and popped off the lid. Hailey had already peeled back her rim and tossed her cup in the trashcan next to us. Obviously a "please play again."

 I used my teeth to roll up the cup's edge. I glanced down at the print, squinting to read the small black letters. "WINNER of a $5,000 Visa prepaid card"

Hailey looked at my eyes. "So, win a donut?"

I took a second to gain control of my breath. "No. Nothing. As usual," I said, avoiding her eyes. I flattened the cup with my palms and slipped it into my army duffle bag.

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Reader Comments (2)

I so enjoyed this Alison, and that ending... Okay, so he's going to surprise her after he gets the prize, right? (Trying to think positive here.)

I love to see local settings, too. We need more Maritime fiction. Thanks for sharing!

April 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Best

I wish I knew, Laura. I was surprised he didn't come clean right away. Dang it when your characters do things you don't like. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

April 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

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