By AJ Atwater
Chris left me for a cute waitress, works down at the Blueberry Café. He walked out. He went for pie. He stayed on. The cute waitress lives in the back of the Blueberry Café. Chris lives there too. He took Barker with him. I remember asking the night he left, you’re taking the dog out for pie? I remember him saying Barker’s hungry too. I can sometimes hear Barker yipping and playing in the backyard of the Blueberry Café. Catching a red Frisbee. I saw him once when I walked past in the alley. Saw him jumping, twisting in the air, catching that red Frisbee. Heard Chris call to him, good boy! Barker didn’t see me. Didn’t splay his front legs in play position waiting for me to toss the chewed-up red Frisbee, stamped with the name Blueberry Café.
Last month it was the cute seamstress at Debbie’s Dress Shop that caught Chris’s eye. Barker went with him that time, too.
I go into the bedroom. Plump up the pillows. Tuck in a new Frisbee. The one I’d gotten from the cute salesman at Bob’s Ford. My month with him is over. Chris’s month with the cute waitress is over. I smooth down the afghan crocheted long ago by my mother.
She’s dead. My father is dead. Chris’s father is dead. His mother is dead. We just have Barker. And a collection of chewed promotional Frisbees. They tell of our searching. Chris’s search for family. My search for family. Our families are gone. We need family. We’re seeking strong unions to chase away the storm of loneliness we feel. So one person, one business at a time, one after another up and down main street in our small town every month, we search.
I hear the front door open. Chris and Barker come into the bedroom. We turn down the covers. Chris and I climb in. Barker jumps in and licks my face. We reach for the TV remote. We fade away into an old rerun of Perry Mason. Admire his strong shoulders. Both of us love Della. Love the sameness of the stories. There is security in that sameness. We love the silly, laughing endings. They are so like our own.
AJ ATWATER is a Minnesota/Manhattan abstract painter and literary fiction writer with stories forthcoming or published in Literary Orphans, PANK, Vestal Review, Crack the Spine, Heavy Feather Review, Cowboy Jamboree, The Gravity of the Thing, 50-Word Stories, KYSO Flash and others. ajatwater.com.