by Juan Carlos Reyes
I wish I could say my shift had ended with a cough, but my boss told me to go outside and shake my throat congestion off with a cigarette after I removed my apron. I told him, staring at him in the mirror, that I haven’t lit a match in over a year and that he’d have to call someone in to replace me. But he leaned over the bar top and nodded back to the waiting lounge past the hostess desk and told me his conditions were final. It’s the rush hour dinner hour and he wouldn’t be asking again. And I could cough over the entrées if it was really that bad. He managed to say, If you really can’t help yourself, with a toothpick in his mouth. He even added that as long as I coughed on the food in the kitchen before I walked out holding a plate in each hand, he didn’t care how much phlegm I expelled. He actually used the word. Expelled.
And then he took the barkeep’s surface towel to wipe the ends of his lips.Continue reading Fiction: Body at the Stairwell to the Waves