“What are we doing?”
Mel was with her weird friend Max. They were sitting in the dark of his van.
“Watch what? All I see is poor old Eddie.”
“Exactly. Now can you see what’s in his path?”
She looked at the lit sidewalk, wondering what weird experiment Max had set up.
“Just the pavement he’s walking on.”
“Directly in front of us, on the sidewalk, I’ve placed something.”
She looked. “All I can see is what looks like an aluminum can.”
“Exactly. I handed him one yesterday and said he could turn it in for the deposit. He took the can and thanked me.”
“You have way too much time on your hands.”
She did. Eddie walked by the can, appeared to look down at it, and continued to walk.
“So he didn’t pick up the can, and yet he took the can from me. I’ve heard rumors that he has money and just pretends to be poor. This kind of confirms it.”
“Not really. Maybe he didn’t see the can.”
“Don’t be silly. You saw him look down at it.”
“Well, maybe he’s got a bad back and can’t bend down to get it.”
“Nope. I ruled that out already. I put a can down in front of a store he visits. He bent down and picked it up. He gave the extra effort because he knew people would see him do it, which would lend credence to his poor act.”
“No, he was right at the store. He could take it right in and wouldn’t have to carry it around.”
“He didn’t go back in the store.”
“Well, there were probably other stores nearby.”
“No closer than there are stores to here.”
She was running out, but she found something.
“It’s night. He doesn’t want to bother the night clerks with cans, and he doesn’t want to carry the can around until morning.”
Max sighed and opened his door.
“What are you doing?”
He shut the door and ran to the can. Eddie turned toward him. Max ran the can to the Eddie. She didn’t hear the words exchanged, but she saw Eddie take the can and kind of nod in a thankful way.
Max ran back to the van and got in.
“See!” he asserted, and then was silent, no doubt hearing her emotional sounds. “You’re crying, aren’t you?”
“Yes, Max. I am. You should have seen it. The night grew a little brighter when you handed him that can, I swear it.”
BIO: Joshua Scribner is the author of the novels The Coma Lights and Nescata. His fiction won both second and fifth place in the 2008 Whispering Spirits Flash Fiction contest. Up to date information on his work can be found at joshuascribner.com.
Joshua lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.
MOTIVATION: “I was just thinking one day about how people can cling to a point of view.”
Photo/Art: Ivano Bosisio