Hear Goes

So, here we have one of those weeny little blonde lovelies, right? Sara. She's a broom, okay? A kiddie broom, one of those plastic, pink and yellow ones from the eighties - except this kiddie broom has a kiddie of her own, named Joey, and that's why she stands on bird feet for hours behind the café counter conjoined to Andy Carlton's bowling alley.

She must stand behind this counter and sell stupid yuppie shit, shit no one visiting Andy Carlton's bowling alley will ever purchase. She's behind rows of honey-injected fluffs and scones, and there's a gourmet coffee machine off to the side. The blue-collar men who frequent this alley want nachos. These men want plastic cups and Budweiser. They aren't asking for uniquely shaped cookies or anything caramelized. But still she must stand, wishing for bigger windows in the dusk of this alley.

Sara has her reasons of wanting out besides the dead end nature of the job and low customer count. There is the regular catcalling from various greasy men that comes daily, some sporting large pot bellies, some just shouting sexual innuendos concerning blue bowling balls. Small Sara is pretty and young, but used, and so to balance these circumstances she ended up behind a cookie counter, inserted behind a cookie counter, stuffed behind a cookie counter.

There is the fact that though she has the privilege of bowling free anytime she wishes, Andy Carlton does not award her the time to take advantage of the deal. There are the extensively long shifts, the shameless young couples striding right past her into the empty café's bathroom together with hands in each other's pants, the occasional broken man who wanders in and places his head on her counter to sponge out his particular heartbreak, and there are evil eyes of the dried up old bag who runs the liquor window on the other side of the alley, but what shreds her significantly is the smoke.

It seeps and hisses beneath the crack of the café door and wafts into the crevices of Sara's pastel, iced, and curly-queued sweets, and it settles. It climbs up the staircase of her yellow hair and latches itself stubbornly, sheathing each strand's cuticle with the embrace of a thirsty man. She longs to break into the local Home Depot and thieve several economy-sized air filter systems and install them herself, teetering on a ladder as the nacho men bowl, and squeezing into the building's architecture like a worm, or whatever it is that handymen do.

As her relief, there is old Will Washington, a regular who often shuffles into the café to tell her stories of the old South so that she feels the blue of it all settle itself inside her small bosom. He is her special friend and as her special friend he drags out her stories too (thebabythebabythebills), for old Will Washington is a man who believes in balance, especially concerning friends.

This hollow, gnarled forest of a place does not house good memories for her. This is why small Sara keeps her eyes from its sagging walls as she passes.

Because who wants to be reminded of the aura of old trailer park couches when they look up (orange, probably), and who wants to be reminded of the cold, star-bugged nights she is able to bowl and the Beer-Bellies still call at her to bring them a cold one and

while you're at it, snatch me one of those pretty lil' pink cookies you got baked up in there, I'm in the mood for pansy food, baby

and then a bigger Beer-belly makes sure they all listen to him when he says, I think I'd like a different kinda sweet thing from this girl?

No. No. Sara says no. And if she shifts her attention from the group of guffawing men to her green bowling ball she gets distracted by the boy who bowls in the next lane over and becomes jealous. He is alone except for his impossibly beautiful bowling ball, all agate and runny rainbow river silt. The bastard polishes it after every single use and Sara will stare as he picks up his buffing rag and rubs out a song to his ball before sending it on its way.

And then the Beer-bellies get jealous and call out to her What, you cheatin' on us now? And then the one in the white polo with its yellowed neckline will come forward and put his hand on the back of her neck and hiss out filth and say you're ours, girlie and she will try to pull away without causing a scene. And just when she begins to panic and the tall one in white painter's pants comes to put his hand next to the White Polo's, she twists and then Will Washington is there and seems much younger than before but older too and he uses the spaces and years braided into the lines of his face to tell the Beer-bellies why don't you go jack yourself off in a corner and leave Miss Sara alone, she sells pretty things, you know.

And Sara and Old Will Washington will thread their way past them and go to her counter, where she says, thank you Will, may I tell about today's special? Two snowflake rosemary shortbreads with a mocha swirl mountain. Old Will Washington will swivel twice around in his chair and then pause and will lift Sara's chin and look her in the eye and say,

Miss Sara, are you happy? I'm gonna say no, you ain't exactly happy, and I think it's these here little cookies and all these drunken, smoking men, but I could be wrong. If I'm right I think I will have a cookie or two but after I have my cookie or two, I want you to smash the rest and say to me No Will, I am not exactly happy.

Sara will step over to the glass display case and place sixteen snowflake cookies on a thick, glazed plate and set it in front of Will Washington. While Will Washington crumbles one in his mouth Sara will pick up the tray and begin an angry flamenco over them. Will Washington will watch her and be calm. He'll let the sugar coat his tongue. Then he'll think of snow and how it makes everything clean.

When her dance turns to a jig, she will turn to Old Will Washington, who is calm, and say,

No, Will, I am not exactly happy, no, but here goes.