a flash-fiction piece
“The restroom’s round the back, ma’am, but I’m afraid it’s blocked. If you can wait thirty more minutes, there’s the bus due in from Phillipsville.”
She gave the proprietor a quizzical look, so he continued,
“It’ll have Drain-O, I put in an order with the groceries. See, we keep all sorts here but there ain’t much call for Drain-O. Can I interest you in a cup of coffee, ma’am?”
“Isn’t it diuretic?”
“Don’t think so, ma’am. It’s just the catering brand; comes in a can without no fancy label, just “Coffee” writ on it. Want some pie?”
She gave the pie a glance, enough to confirm her suspicions.
“I’ll pass,” she said. “Say, seeing as there’s no neighbours, how about I go find a quiet corner out back?”
He leant towards her, conspiratorially.
“Ma’am, normally, I’d say, ‘go right ahead’ but,” he said, pausing momentarily then, “the Deputy over there has had a peaceful week and is itching for someone to book. Best you wait half an hour for the Drain-O.”
She took in the figure of the Deputy at the furthest end, slouched behind a plate of crumbs suggesting he wasn’t as discerning about pie as she was. And he did look in need of something to do. Then she wondered how far away the jailhouse could be; was she that desperate?
“How ‘bout a Lotto card, ma’am?” the proprietor said, smiling, “Take your mind off.”
Was he actually enjoying this? she thought. He continued,
“Ain’t had a winner in a long time. Must be our turn, I reckon.”
“Thanks, but I don’t think I could take the shock,” she said.
What were the odds of finding yourself at the only rest stop without a working restroom, and a resident trigger-happy deputy, and was it worthwhile packing your own road trip Drain-O? The wall clock said twenty minutes to touchdown. She would have to bet on its sure arrival.