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  • Meghan Hardiman

Attaway, A Day in the Life: Part 3


Whitey was a tall, wiry man with a toothbrush mustache and small round spectacles at the end of his nose. He usually wore a heavy canvas apron, stained various colors, to keep the mess off his clothes. Fat lot of good that did him usually, and as Billie stepped into the still she couldn’t tell from looking where apron ended and Whitey began.

“Looks like y'all are being productive," she teased from the doorway.

Whitey laughed, a handful of crooked yellow teeth appeared in the middle of the black smattering that was his face. Next to him, looking bemused and slightly drunk, a fellow called Gershwin smirked.

Whitey lifted the bottom of his apron, revealing an outline of clean shirt and trousers beneath. He rubbed the hem on the lenses of his glasses, but that only served to smear the soot around. “I don’t know why I thought that would work. Gershwin, hand me a towel.”

Gershwin felt around the table without really looking until his fingers touched a small terrycloth rag, almost as dirty as Whitey was, but it wiped enough of the soot off his face that he could see around the room again.

“Whatcha working on? New toys?”

“Not getting very far." White scratched his bald pate. "I was trying to get Gershwin here to belch fire, but all we got was soot.”

As if on cue, Gershwin burped loudly, and a wispy cloud puffed out in front of his face.

“You was going to let him blow fire full into your face? You’re lucky all you got was soot.”

“I didn’t think it’d be that much. Definitely need to fiddle with the ratios. Can’t say I’m not disappointed though. Wouldn’t you just jump at the chance to melt some Lightfoot faces?”

“That sounds like it could backfire. Haha!” Billie laughed at her own joke. Whitey rolled his eyes.

“Wish there was a brew to electrocute you whenever you made a bad pun.”

“Speaking of brew, I need some stout.”

“Again?” I gave you three jars the other day!”

“I used ‘em up.”

“How?”

“Showing off mostly.”

“Fine but this is the last one I’m giving away.” He handed her a mason jar full of a swirling green liquid, opaque, with a soft, subtle glow. “You owe me for any more. I’m trying to make a living here, and those folks on the docks actually use this stuff to work.”

“I’m using it for work.”

“Juggling tables isn’t work.”

“Yeah, yeah. Say, is Gershwin gonna be alright?”

Gershwin’s chin was resting on his chest; his eyes were wide open, and he was staring down in apparent fascination with his own feet.

“Hmm.” Whitey stroked his mustache. “Definitely need to fiddle with those ratios.”

“Good luck with that. I’m headed out to go make my millions.”

“Bring back some herbs while you’re at it.”

Billie bounded out the door, green glowing jar in hand.


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