“Never Wednesdays” by Donald Ryan

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It was 1994 and he was working
at this restaurant outside Shreveport,
Pearl Jam on the box
and a broken wrist.
It was his day off, a day of rest.
Yet he was standing in the kitchen.
Glove stretched over his fat palm.
He should have said no, I’ve got plans,
and the joints he smoked agreed.
It was the extra pain pill popped said yes.
So he dropped baskets and burnt toast
when walked in

Streamers.

Bright painted fucking joy, fucking hi-yuck
rictus kiddies, here’s a balloon twisted gimmick
as if the free kid for every adult meal didn’t bring
the families in in hordes (it didn’t).
There was Streamers.
In all her fearfulness cheerfulness.
In all her fuckery. 

Just get a drink and don’t look up
Just get a drink and don’t look up
Just get a drink and don’t look fuck.
“How are we today?”  We?
Words of terror from a Chelsea grimace
between cheeks painted rum red.
Just forget the drink and don’t piss self.
“Do we know how Kathy’s doing?”
Kathy had cancer.
Streamers came claiming Kathy.
“Kathy.  Fucking fan-tastic.”

The line dead, wag dragon fired,
the fool kept focus on death’s swinging doors.
Fear held no bound as long as he
was on the safest side.
He went home early, on account of
his hand and all—right—
fucked stasis fakes
bravery in composure.

She chose to paint her face;
The sweet southern belle.
“A dissident is here,” he said.

Never Wednesdays.

 

Donald Ryan’s words have appeared, or are forthcoming in, Cleaver, Fiction Southeast, Hobart, Soft Cartel, Owl Canyon Press’s hackathon anthology, Short Edition’s international story dispensers, and elsewhere. He’s a full-time part-time librarian in the GA Pines. donaldryanswords.com and/or @dryanswords because, you know…

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