Pulminary Stasis

The bus depot in Olympia was a damp brick affair.
The gal at the counter, well…she seemed pleasant enough.
It was February. The Northwest, and all that that entails.

“Corpus Christi,” I said. “How much?”
‘One-way?” she said.
“Yes,” I said.
“89 fifty,” she said. “One way to Corpus,” she said.
“Sold,” I said. “To Corpus,” I said.

The shelter in Corpus Christi is a concrete affair.
The sand settles in pesky tiny drifts nooks behind doors.
The cook in the kitchen was not an unpleasant sort.

“The big stuff hangs over there,” he said. “The small stuff underneath.
“Like this?” I said.
“Like that,” he said. “Under there,” he said.
“Thank You,” I said. “For the information, the instruction,” I said.

So it turns out I bunk next to the cook guy. He has some time in.
Sure he gives me the skinny on the place that night. Don’t drink and do a chore. Work party list at 6 AM. Cash at the end of the day.
Laundry on Fridays.

“How long?” I said. “How long you been in the kitchen?”
“Too long,” he said. “Couple years,” he said.
“It is a nice kitchen,” I said. “You should be proud of the kitchen,” I said.
“Teeth bother me,” he said. “And my hands ache, the hot pots.”
“But dry socks,” I said. “Any clean socks?”
“Wednesday evening,” he said. “The Salvation Army van around 11,” he said.

And so I am at the front desk before 6, I am sure.
I pencil on the work list. I am conflicted.
The guy, the cook guy, the guy I bunk next to, well he did not appear to be breathing. I mean when I got up he did not.
I am thinking the desk guy should know. But I am on the work list.
The desk guy asks if I am on the list. I tell him I signed the list and that the guy next to me, at least when I got up, did not appear to be breathing, and maybe more still now.

“He’s not breathing?” he said. “Not now?” he said.
“He did not appear to be then,” I said. “I thought someone should know now,” I said.

There was a lot of coming and going. They, the comers and goers, seemed to agree that he was not breathing and carted him off.

Harvey Gable

Flash Fiction Entry

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