Week 5: An Unexpected Union
Week 5: January 29 – February 4, 2023
Prompt: An Unexpected Union
“Cellophane Mister Cellophane
Shoulda Been My Name, Mister Cellophane
‘Cause You Can Look Right Through Me
Walk Right By Me
And Never Know I’m There…” (From the Musical, Chicago)
“Excuse me, young man, do you think I could get….” I rushed only to make contact with the server’s back. “ If I could just get a white…, sir. . Don’t you,” I sighed.
“Frustrating, isn’t it? He just gave you the ‘just a minute finger’, didn’t he?”
A voice from a neighboring table acknowledged.
“Yes, for the third time. I wouldn’t mind so much but the pretty young thing he is currently waiting on.” I raised my voice. “Instead of me, just waltzed in the door and got immediate attention.”
A voice at my elbow chuckled. “Try it from down here.” I looked at the woman in the wheelchair. “A person could die of thirst in this watering hole.” her voice sounded resigned but not angry.
“I’ve been trying to get his attention for the last 10 minutes. Thank goodness they aren’t really busy.” Her smile reached her eyes, “then we’d really have no chance. I’m Barb by the way. We might as well get to know each other if we are destined to perish from thirst in here.”
“I’m Nadine,” I said, reaching out to shake her hand.
The bartender deigned that moment to approach us.
All smiles he said, “Sorry, I got slammed. What can I get you, ladies?”
“White wine and?” I looked at my new comrade in arms.
“Same, thanks,” she rolled her chair over and got to a table just as two young girls arrived at it and started to sit. She looked at them and smiled.
They backed up looking annoyed, but then had the grace to look a little embarrassed as they took in the wheelchair. One said, “Here, you can go ahead and take it.”
“Thanks ever so much,” she beamed and wheeled herself into position as I arrived with two glasses of wine. I put them down, seated myself and sighed.
“I don’t know why I put myself through this torture, except I forget how awful it is and every so often have to remind myself. Here you go.” I passed her glass of wine.
She raised her glass in a toast and said, “It’s not so bad, and there are some perks.”
“Perks?” I snorted. “To what?”
“Being invisible” she said.
“I’m not invisible”. I protested with a raised eyebrow. “Damn,” I said. “Yes, I am, and I hate it!”
“No sense in doing that,” my companion said. “It’s wasted energy. Besides you can’t change it, so you might as well make peace with it, then find a way to use it to your advantage. I realized after I turned 50 that especially in situations like this, no one sees me. Poor me. But when you are handicapped it’s even worse.”
I choked on a swallow of wine and sputtered, “Well of course I don’t have it so bad but …”
She cut me off. “Don’t go there. We were getting along so well.”
“Go where?” I asked.
“Go to feeling sorry for me. I don’t, so you aren’t allowed to.”
I couldn’t help myself, I liked her. Her fun energy felt a little naughty but very fun.
“So why are you here? And, what’s the secret to not wanting to stand on a table and scream just because you want to get a freaking drink?”
“I’m Barb, you first,” she invited.
“I’m a writer and hoping all of this will end up in a story of some sort or another. I write murder mysteries. When it gets too bad, I just start killing them off. It’s very cathartic.”
“I imagine it would be,” she agreed. “That is one way to use invisibility. I am a cop.”
Her gaze drifted to a table nearby where a couple was sitting. The young lady had eyes only for the bearded guy sitting across from her. His worn leather jacket and tight jeans promised all the things your mother warned you about. The girl fidgeted with the strap of her purse before standing and moving to a hall and towards the back of the bar. Barb?? lowered her voice, “heading to the restroom.” Her companion for the evening looked around then he dropped something in her drink.
“Excuse me a sec, be right back,” Barb said, rolling to the nearby table. I heard a cry followed by cussing.
“You stupid bitch! Watch where you are going.”
I heard Barb’s voice sounding apologetic as she knocked over the drinks on his table. She kept talking as she tried to smooth things over. She clumsily wiped at the drinks with napkins on the table. The irate man’s noise brought the bartender over with towels who quickly cleaned up the mess.
“Come on, man, take it easy. It was an accident. Let me get you another drink.” The bartender said trying to dial down the tension.
”I don’t want another drink. I’m out of here soon as my date comes back from the can.” the irate customer said and with a parting shot to Barb’s back. “You should just stay home if you can’t drive that thing. Crappy women drivers!”
Barb moved back to our table, quickly put the soaked napkin in a ziplock baggy. Then she took out her phone and sent a text. When the guys’ date came back to the table, he pointed towards the door ready to leave.
I watched them walk through the doors of the bar and was surprised when the couple was approached by two large guys. Even though they weren’t in uniform, they couldn’t have looked more like cops if they had been ordered up from central casting.
I saw the badge flash as the men started talking to the couple. I could only imagine the shock she felt as I watched the young girl turn and look at her date in amazement. She continued shaking her head as trouble guy looked angrier as each moment passed. As if on command a black and white cruiser pulled up at the same time as an Uber.
I turned to look at Barb in astonishment. She smiled and I had to use my hands to keep my jaw from dropping when one of the burly guys came inside, she passed him the baggy with the napkin inside. “Thanks, Barb” he said, then turned and walked out.
Barb smiled at me and said, “It’s not as cool as being a writer but the only thing more invisible than one old broad is two.”
“Hush,” I said, “I’m trying to decide.”
With a tilted head she said, “Decide what?”
“Should I use my power for good or evil.”
I’m enjoying your writing, keep it up. Every story is intriguing.
I am just playing with version of invisible people. It amazing how many stories there are out there. ❤️
Wasn’t that a fun read! Your stories always hook me from the start and keep me engaged. You have discovered so many ways to focus on invisible people. Love the musical connection as the words always have me singing the song.
Perhaps a typo in paragraph near end that starts with “I watched them walk…” In the third line “Even those…”, did you mean to say “that” instead of they?
Keep writing and sharing your talent my friend.
Thanks Cindy, This is an exercise not just in developing my craft but of making time for what feeds me. (Having been a caregiver I know you get it.) I am enjoying this so much and your feedback is water filling my well.
I really enjoy your work. This one is outstanding. I LOVE the fact that Barb is STILL a working cop. Folks with disabilities are even more invisible than old women. You’ve captured the reality of youth and entitlement, whether age or gender.
Can’t wait for the next installment.
I got behind this week because of being sick but I’m not letting that stop me. Your words of encouragement are fuel for my fire.
This was a very enjoyable read! I adore these two characters and the ending was quite satisfying.
You are very right-there are so many invisible people. I look forward to meeting more of these interesting characters and seeing how you cast your light on them.
I don’t know how you stayed on top of your stories but I decided doing them was more important
than worrying about getting them done on time each week. I am having fun with them.
I LOVED this. Barb is just terrific! Andthe story is so original.
I, too, loved this story! Keep writing. It’s enjoyable.
Thanks MJ. So good to hear from you.