“Do you have something for real?”
Totally focused on the flat screen, Rusty could not have guessed that someone was behind him enjoying the only form of entertainment he loved to watch. With headphones attached to his somewhat oversize ears, his world was separated from real time.
The soft tap on his shoulder felt like an electric shock, informing his brain that a customer waited to be served.
“I am sorry,” he removed the headphones quickly, stood up instantly and turned around, all in one swift motion. “Did you say something?”
Wendy smiled, her face lit up when he accidentally tripped going over the counter.
“I want to buy some loaves of bread,” she said, without repeating her first remark.
“Oh, I thought you said something about the video,” he bent down and took a box from the floor. “How many?”
“Three, I think.” She seemed to be in doubt. “Make it five, to be sure.”
“Having a party?” he inquired, placing the loaves in a thin paper bag.
Wendy’s cheeks blushed, her slightly bowed head meant something unspoken.
“It’s for me,” she replied quietly. “I seem to enjoy eating these past few days.”
Rusty would not comment further. In his personal view, the customer is always right. It’s their money, not his. Whatever their reasons were for buying was not his business to ask.
“I never see you leaving this place,” she said, extending to him her payment. “Are you a prisoner here?”
She was joking, thought Rusty. In his mind, another customer could be flirting with him. He was not a handsome hunk like those actors or rock artists but he exuded the magnetism most men did not possess.
“My uncle owns this place,” he revealed. “But to answer your question, sometimes I feel you are right.”
She covered her mouth when she laughed, the kind of behavior most demure women often resorted to, especially in front of men.
“Forgive me for asking,” he pried, “why eat a lot of bread? Don’t you like rice?”
Wendy looked him in the eyes, unable to decide whether to tell him her real reason for overeating. Her facial facade showed happiness but deep inside her, she was on the rocks.
“I am watching my figure,” she replied, using part of the lie to sound believable.
Rusty had already watched too many music videos that women in all shapes and sizes were registered on his mind. The woman in front of her could only be termed as a wow: she had all the flesh in the right places.
“Good for you!” he exclaimed, clapping his hands to show his admiration.
“By the way, I am Wendy,” she said. “I live around the corner.”
“That’s why?” he mused. “You look familiar. I thought I saw you before.”
“I grew up here till I was fifteen,” she clarified. “My parents worked abroad for several years. We moved back to our old house a few months ago.”
His hands twitched involuntarily. It was his signal that a surprise was in the offing.
“Oh, I forgot,” he said as an afterthought. “I am Rusty.”
“I know,” she replied with a cryptic smile.
He looked at her closely. Then, almost all the sad events of his early adolescence flashed back in his head.
(to be continued)