Her name was Chrissy Lee. She was twenty-nine years old and she worked at an office downtown. An office that handled the sales of office supplies, which she thought was ironic and funny in a disdainful sort of way. Paperwork. Administration. A life’s calling fulfilled. She had a title (Executive Administrative Assistant) and a business card (stating same) and that was something and not just some waitressing job. Although she always did say that waitressing had been the most fulfilling job she’d ever had because in an apocalypse type of situation people would still seek to eat, drink and socialize but they wouldn’t need to buy paper clips, would they? So there she was. In some generic office at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton. She was miserable.
What she really wanted to do was write.
This was mostly a secret desire as she had no journalism degree, no experience, nothing ever published, nothing even submitted and rejected. Yes even a rejection letter would be a huge step forward for Chrissy Lee. She had a prolific blog but she kept it a secret from most of her friends and family. She felt her writing wouldn’t be honest if she knew they were reading. So she only shared its existence with strangers and far-removed acquaintances. When she wasn’t typing up a sales bill or calling in an order, you could always find Chrissy Lee writing one thing or another: composing and posting quips and quibbles and short pieces of fiction or poems. The only thing that gave her any real trouble, oddly, was writing in the third person. For some reason, that was tough. So was finding the time to sit down and focus and write something good. Something she could even consider offering up for rejection. She always did say that you can read on the side but you can’t write on the side. So it was a matter of time.
And of gumption.
It was a Saturday morning and it was the warmest it had been in a long while. Spring was finally starting to flirt and tease. So Chrissy Lee jumped on her bicycle. With no particular destination in mind, she rode and she rode, south then east then south then east. It was a panicked, crazed, desperate kind of ride and the longer it went, the more wild and invigorating it became. Therapeutic. Finally when her head was cleared Chrissy Lee pulled over. She locked up her bike to some random pole on Queen East and walked into the first open business she stumbled upon.
The Queen’s Head.
“My mother was a singer in the 1940’s and she told me: When you’re on the stage, you sing.” The singer said or slurred to the crowd. And then sing he did. A voice perfected by profuse packs of Pall Malls and pint after pint. Hollow and drawling and real as fuck. And Chrissy Lee believed every sad song he sang with a voice like that. A hands down voice and a stand-up bass. It was beat up and beautiful and he plucked it and pounded and picked it so pretty. Add a beautiful bosomy blonde on drums and a sexy and stoic stray cat on guitar and the three made a real rockabilly reverie.
Now here was something she could write about.
Now she always did say that she didn’t believe in fate or destiny or even talent, for that matter, but somehow Chrissy Lee had ended up here in this little coin perdu where there wasn’t a hole puncher or a collating machine or a skinny no foam latte with x amount of syrup pumps at x degrees and seemingly where a bit of goddamned humanity had managed to survive. No line-ups or gimmicks but dart boards and Guinness and double bourbons lined up and drained quickly by a welcoming and authentic cast of characters she immediately warmed to. And they to her.
It was crisp and grey and warm and Spring really was coming.
Then the band’s second set began and the slap and the blues and the twang and the hooves and the place blew up. Chrissy Lee sat straight in her seat and was taken aback by the thundering gallop of the music. Her foot tapped and the mundaneness of her job and the duplicity of her neighbourhood and the cowering of her dreams was forgotten and replaced like some sort of down South black magic spell had been cast. It was the music. It was the authenticity.
This was what had been missing.
With each song the crowd grew slowly more drunk but in that good old-fashioned country way that seemed right and romantic. It was giddy up and hee haw and some serious bets at the races. A lively shoe-stomping number ended and the crowd erupted into loving and adoring applause. And there was something about the way that singer so very humbly nodded his head and tipped his cowboy hat and nervously winked his lips to the right and even cut a curtsy as he thanked the crowd that made him incredibly endearing. “I’m just a drunk from the mountains,” he told the crowd.
Spring was here and thirty was near and after the show Chrissy Lee hopped back on her bike. “I’ll be back!” They played every Saturday afternoon as if something so great so human so raw so blatant was absurdly commonplace. And the ride home was an excited, crazed, inspired and revitalized kind of ride and the longer it went, the more wild and invigorating it became. It was the music. It was the authenticity. It was the simplicity and beauty of riding a bike. It was suddenly and beautifully being ready to say she.
Her name was Chrissy Lee and she was scared and that was the best and most raw and most human feeling in the world. She always did say that fear made you feel alive and it meant something wonderful was going to happen.
Flash Fiction (100 – 1 000 words) : This is the type of short story you would expectt o find in a glossy magazine, often used to fill one page of quick romance (or quick humour, in men’s mags). Very popular, quick and easy to write, and easier to sell!
© 2002 Lee Masterson, http://www.writing-world.com