A vignette from 'Frank' in The Lies We Live
Taking her pot of coffee and slice of cinnamon spice cake back to her table from the front counter, Steph noticed an older pickup drive into the parking lot and pull into a spot. Setting her afternoon treats down onto the table and shoving her bag out of the way so she could pull the chair out to sit down, she thought back to when her grandparents had an old pickup truck with a broom sticking upright from the side of the bed, which they had used to sweep the grain, garbage, or whatever they hauled around with it, out. Arranging her cake and coffee on the table in front of her, Steph chuckled to herself, remembering the dilapidated truck with all of its rust and the oats growing out of the curled back bumper. It didn’t matter to her younger self that the truck was one major repair away from the junkyard; she’d always had fun riding in the back of it, out to the fields to check on the crops.
Looking up to the front of the coffee shop, she saw an older gentleman with a cowboy hat approach the front counter and then he looked over his shoulder at her, sitting in the back corner. Figuring this was her next appointment, she waved her pen with the taped-on white plastic daisy around in the air which set him off in her direction.
“Hi, my name is Frank,” he said within earshot of the table.
“Hi, Frank” Steph smiled, extending her hand over the table toward Frank as he was a few feet away. “I’m Steph. What brings you to the dark corner of secrets today?”
“Well, Steph,” Frank began while shaking her hand and pulling out the chair. “I’m a heapin’ pile of chicken shit.”
Steph, not exactly expecting that answer, stopped smiling and adjusted her position in her chair.
Deciding Steph wasn’t sure on what to say to his declaration, Frank continued, “Actually, the whole town I live just outside of is filled with a bunch of chicken shits.”
“Some of the people in the town, or the entire town itself?” Steph asked, finally managing to reply to Frank’s statements with something.
“Today, I’m talkin’ about the people,” Frank confirmed with a nod. “As for the town itself? Well, from my point of view, it’s been going down the shitter 'fer the past handful of decades. It’s definitely not the same great town it was when I was growin’ up.”
Steph could tell from the look on Frank’s face that he had a lot to say, and had a lot of guilt associated with what was weighing on his mind. “How about I state my disclaimer and then we go from there?” Steph suggested. “Perhaps I could start off with a question or two to get you started on what’s bothering you?”
“Yeah, that would be a good idea,” Frank agreed while tapping his callous and stained fingertips on the top of the table. “Yeah, that would be good.”