This week's story was to be set in a bookstore, and include a random six words form a list of twenty. I got broken, music, mechanical, grubby, backpack, and cowboy. I've bolded the six words in my story. It took me much to long to get started, but I am happy with the result. 917 words, many of them good.
Note: These stories used to be posted on my Ravensview blog, but I'm going to start putting them here.
A Zen Romance
Chuck sighed as he eased himself down into the armchair. He was sore, after a long day spent branding calves. At least he′d changed his shirt, so he smelled a little less like a working cowboy.
He′d come to town for some snacks for the bunkhouse and decided to drop into the bookstore to relax and look for some good used books. For now, he′d enjoy the cool air and quiet classical music in the background.
Danny waved from behind the cash. ″Chuck, had a hard day? Want a lemonade to wash away some of that dust?″
Chuck smiled then glanced down at his grubby jeans. Damn, should have changed them too. He jumped up, then looked back at the chair. He gave it a quick swipe with his Stetson. The chair was a dark fabric, so nothing was showing. No problem.
He hitched up his pants and headed for the counter.″Yup. Pour me a cool one, thanks Danny.″
″No problem, my friend. In here for any books in particular?″
″Fiction, mostly. Managed to move the boys up out of their usual trashy novels into some mystery, like Agatha Christie, sci-fi classics, and they love Harry Potter. No TV, no wi-fi, so they had to try reading. Everyone's catching up on what they missed in their younger days.″
″Well, I'm glad they′re liking it. Let them know I′ll give them a discount when they come in.″ He smiled. ″I′ll know them by the smell on their boots.″
″Hey, they′re not that bad. It's my town pair.″
A cry by the window interrupted them. ″Damn, what did I sit in.″
A young woman, in pale blue scrubs, was brushing at her behind. ″Dirt, just what I need.″
She glared over at the two men. ″Oh, let me guess, it was Tex there. He wandered in and got so confused by the books he had to sit down.″
Chuck smiled. ″Nice cliche, but it′s Chuck. And my apologies, ma′am. I′d be glad to pay for the cleaning.″
She scowled. ″And then he calls me ma′am. Never mind, these are washable.″ She picked up her backpack and nodded at Danny. ″Where′s your Sexual Health and Wellness section? Over there?″
Chuck waited until she had left. ″Pretty woman, and fiesty. But I may have not made the best first impression.″
″Do you think?″ said Danny. ″She′s new, works in the dental office. Single too, I think. I never have seen her in here before though. Go browse next to her, in that same section. Tell her you′re a fragile male questioning your sexuality.″
″Piss off, Danny. You watch too many soap operas. I′ll check out the philosophy section next to it.″
He was browsing the shelves, several books under his arm, when he spotted a gem. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He reached out, and was just pulling it off the shelf when a hand bumped his.
″Damn, I wanted that too. Oh, it′s you again.″
He stepped back and nodded. ″Yup, me again, young lady.″ He held the book out. ″But take it, as an apology for me neglecting to change into cleaner jeans. Besides, already read it. Gave my copy away to a friend at the last rodeo, so need another.″
She brushed back her hair and smiled.″I read it too, years ago. I lost my copy when I moved here last month.″
She held out her hand. ″Let′s start again. Hi, I′m Claire. I′m a hygienist at the clinic, and had a shitty day. Pleased to meet you Chuck.″
″Pleased to meet you Claire. Sorry about the shitty day. Difficult patients? ″
Claire shook her head. ″Almost everyone in town has been great. But my last customer had BO, awful garlic breath, and tried to grab my leg. While he was flat on his back and I was deep in his mouth with a sharp instrument. Stupid man. He won′t be back. I′m surprised you didn′t hear him bellow out at your ranch.″
He chuckled. ″Good for you. But why your interest in the book? Are you into the romantic or classical side of it?″
She waved her hand. ″Oh, classical. I have an old Kawasaki trail bike. I love to grab my backpack, throw on my old clothes – yes I have some – and head out somewhere. If I end up broken down, well, I′m good with mechanical things, what with having four brothers, so it′s just a matter of applying some rational problem solving and then maybe jury rig something up. And I like the relaxed approach to life Pirsig pushes. How about you?″
″Well, believe it or not, I′m in it for the Zen part. Classical approach too, and that whole search for oneself. I have a lot of time to think, while I′m out riding the fence lines or tracking down strays. It′s a good book for that.″ He handed it to her again. ″But take it. There will be more.″
She smiled again. ″Thank you. You′re too kind, after me being such a shit. But this book is a rare find, I feel bad."
He patted her arm. ″So maybe we can share it until Danny finds another one. I′m in town every Saturday, I can check in here with you to see how far you are.″
″That would be nice,″ she said.
He nodded. ″It′s a date. And I′ll wear my going-to-town jeans.″