Jasper scanned the restaurant looking for an explanation.
His cool, icy-blue eyes carried an oil and water mix of ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ And ‘Is this real?’ Each reaction fighting for control.
Because mere moments before, in between fast bites of cheesy eggs, a perfect stranger waddled into his world at the absolute wrong time — the time he carved out to reveal an important secret to his son.
Jasper attempted to grab the waitress with his eyes, pleading with her to deal with some crowd control. Just a nice, do you want some more coffee? Could stymie the small talk.
She returned the pleas with a half-ass smile, moving the gum from one side of her mouth to the other, remaining utterly indifferent to the situation at hand.
So Jasper shook his head and bit his lip. He was going to have to deal with this head-on.
“Hey — how you doing pal!” He said to the man wearing a “Sit Here Shirt” with an arrow pointed to his face.
The stranger obliged.
“Say there, what in the world is that?”
He pointed his hairy hand at the pink smoothie sitting right in front of Jasper. His fingers grazed the glass.
“It was a dragon fruit smoothie,” Jasper said, frowning.
“Dragon fruit smoothie?” The stranger could hardly contain his excitement, “I thought dragons were extinct!”
Jasper let out a fake laugh he hoped the stranger-turned-idiot would notice.
Instead, he looked back at his wife, who sat at attention, eager to hear the news.
“Hey Honey, it’s dragons!”
The stranger’s wife squealed like a pig rolling in a dirty secret, her eyes carrying a smug yet satisfied look. Then, to the ire of Jasper, she too waddled over, curlers still in her hair.
“We were just so curious, SO CURIOUS about what’s in that drink. Pink’s my favorite color, don’t cha know?”
She pointed to the pink, plastic monstrosity floating in her hair.
“I do now.”
“Alright, well, I’m just gonna get back to eating with my son.”
“Hey, can y’all scoot over?”
The idiots slid their fat asses into the booth before Jasper and James could respond.
“The name’s Randy and this is my sweet Peggy-Sue. We’re really into dragons.”
Jasper noticed the light catch Peggy’s polished Rhaegal collectible ring.
“I recorded every Game of Thrones episode and watched them twice!” She added with pride.
Jasper rolled his eyes.
Then the stranger’s face turned gravely serious as if he was an undercover news reporter on the 10 PM broadcast. He leaned over the table and, in a completely solemn tone, asked,
“I need to know — where on Earth did you find that dragon?”
Randy stared at Jasper as if he had x-ray vision, trying to sift through his secrets. And the restaurant, once alive, stood still. It was entirely uncomfortable.
Then, Jasper’s face became muted, as if he found out 1 +1 didn’t equal 2, before letting out a genuine laugh. The situation broke him.
“The fuckin menu, page three.”
Randy nodded his head and rubbed his chin.
“Menu, huh? Is that like a hidden continent?”
Jasper shook his head.
“Furthest thing from it.”
Randy continued to nod, deciding if he was satisfied. The verdict?
“OK.” He crossed his arms.
Then as quickly as he came, was as quickly as he left.
He cut a look to his wife, slapped his belly, and they stood up and sauntered off back to their table. No goodbyes. Just a weird Morse code.
Jasper turned back from the interruption and tried to collect himself. His body shook like an earthquake, and he looked at his smoothie as if it were poisoned. He pushed it forward.
Then he slipped out four words that cracked James’s heart.
“What a fucking asshole.”
Across the table, James sat back in his seat and felt an unusual sensation coming from his cheeks: a smile growing across his face.
His father had just shared the best secret he had.
He was just like him.
Please like, comment, share and tell me what you think. As you may notice – I took Letters from Jasper and turned the opening into a short piece for submission. But curious if you like the story – I’m always looking for ideas, if you have any ideas or observations about annoying encounters in everyday life, let me know!
And as always, thank you so much for reading – you honestly make my day!