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One Minute

A Just A Second Production

By Conrad IlesiaPublished 28 days ago 4 min read

I

“Amber,” Jeff said, almost whispering, “thanks for coming. I wasn’t sure if you were going to show.” Amber, under her breath: where the fuck else do I have to go?

Sitting across from him at Medicini Roasters off Lamar on this lazy Saturday, the AC brushing her hair back, sunlight through the near window streaming over her pale brown eyes, two lattes on the low table between them, she considered his semi-approval, following on the heels of a question she had not answered, mainly because she did not know how to.

She stared off, hair lifting off her shoulders, considering the question, the question Jeff had asked her right before “Thank You For Coming” and right after her momentary mental skip, his semi-approval meant to fill up the space of her silent non-reply.

That question. Stupid-naive-meaningless question.

Fuck you Jeff.

She was bored with him but ever since Louisiana, he always paid for her wherever they went so she stayed. Stayed with him since that night in New Orleans. Jeff Andrew Anderson was not cute or funny. But he had been tall.

Height covers a multitude of sins.

She drew her eyebrows together, wondering how to answer his question, Jeff sitting there with his wide, dumb eyes—questioning—Amber: stuck.

Then, like a miracle sprung from heaven, Lisa appeared.

“Y’all ready to order?”

Annoyed at the interruption, Jeff answered her, “We need a minute.”

Jeff did not know that when a customer said “gimme a minute,” one of Lisa’s simple joys in an otherwise dull life was to retreat to the breakroom, chomp on her pink bubblegum, look at the clock for exactly 45 seconds and then walk back to the table and say,

“Y’all ready to order?”

Jeff watched Lisa’s backside as she walked away from their table.

II

Amber remembered the first day they had met.

As Alanis Morisette asked them from the speakers above if they thought about their bills, their ex, their deadlines or when they were going to die, Amber recalled her reckless decision to stick her thumb out on that fateful day in Louisiana.

Her friend had left her at their hotel to go to an uptown casino and Amber, declining the ride (“Good luck, friend!”) had walked to a downtown casino in the other direction, six blocks down. As Amber approached the entrance to her casino, she felt in her left pocket, then her right pocket, then her purse. She did not have her fucking ID, cash and, most importantly, her comp card. Fuck me, she said under her breath, turning away from the casino.

She trudged back to her hotel—fuck it’s hot—retrieved her belongings from the bland desktop in her and her friend’s beaten-up hotel room, cool air from the vents whisking her hair back. Getting off the elevator, she traversed the lobby, though the sliding doors, and stepped back out into the muggy Louisiana air, sunlight passing over her brown eyes, the thought of walking another six blocks overwhelming her better angels.

She looked at the passing traffic: they’re all fellow gamblers, probably all headed down to her casino; it’s the middle of the day. Impulsively, she stuck out a thumb for a ride.

A red Nissan slowed, then stopped, the passenger side window sliding down.

Amber described where she was headed and Jeff, saying, “Sure, no problem,” invited her inside. He seemed harmless, handsome even, if she squinted.

Getting inside that FUCKING air conditioned front seat, she squinted, introduced herself as Amber and clutched her belongings into her lap over the six block ride, occasionally feeling the raised lettering on the comp card, and then the ride was over. They didn’t talk much. She knew his name was Jeff and that he definitely noticed she had breasts.

She thanked him.

“Is that it,” he asked.

“You know,” Amber said, settling back into his car seat with the Nissan’s engine idling, all the time in the world to lose another five hundred dollars, “actually, no.”

“You took a risk, randomly picking me up like that,” she concluded.

Jeff took his sunglasses off, time on his side, folded them on the console between them and said, “So did you.”

III

A

Back to Medicini. Back to the coffee shop with Jeff and Amber. Back to that suspended minute, neither one knowing the waitress was going to punk them. Punk Jeff. Jeff. Fuck Jeff. You fucking rapist. Murderer. Scumbag.

That question.

That god damn question Amber could not answer.

Jeff with his stupid asshole face, her blood dripping out of the corner of his mouth, their lattes cooling,

“Amber,” he had asked, “where are we?”

B

Forty three, forty four, forty five.

Lisa stopped smacking her gum.

It was time to go back to table # 6. Probably no damn tip.

Fucking vagrants.

As she walked to the low table she rehearsed in her most innocent babydoll voice, “Y’all ready to order? It’s been a minute.” Almost shrugging.

You should have seen the look on Lisa’s face when no one and nothing was at the table.

That look on her face made Amber, looking down at her from the speakers above, grin for the first time that day.

Where are we?

Fuck you,

C

Jeff.

travel

About the Creator

Conrad Ilesia

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