Friday #Fiction with Ronovan #Writes Challenge #29-Use Image

Is this what it seems to be, how can this thing be used?

Maybe it’s a corkscrew that’s been thoroughly abused?

Or could it be a wooden T that simply lost it’s legs?

Perhaps it’s made to drill a hole in twenty thousand kegs?

Whatever is the plan for it, I think it’s safe to say

I’m not sure that I’m ready for a more exciting day.

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I felt the smooth finish on the embossed cloth, my fingers hidden under the table.  He asked if I liked Claire the Loon, but the woman playing the piano didn’t look crazy to me. This was 1970. If they wanted old music, why not play Frank Sinatra songs?

The best restaurant in my hometown was a crab place with hammers, bibs, and wooden bowls. Fortunately, this was the lunch crowd, so my one inch heels and a black dress just above the knee didn’t seem too out of place. Had I known there were 3 forks, 2 spoons and 2 kinds of knives before I walked in, I would’ve asked to meet at a diner where the steaks were hot and the menu wasn’t in Italian. 

I doubted anyone would notice that my turquoise medallion was on a 10 karat gold chain, or the silver-toned clasp holding my hair in a French Twist was from the dollar store. What they did notice was the difference in age between a college freshman and her boss.

He had invited me to lunch to talk about a substantial raise, but I only worked 20 hours a week as a receptionist.  That paid for the room I was renting from a woman with a 5 bedroom home who used the money to pay the utilities and taxes every month.  

I asked her once why she didn’t sell the house and move someplace cheaper.  “I grew up in this home.  My parents died shortly after my husband left me.  Being a housewife for 25 years gave me the skills to run a boarding house. I get to cook for 4 grateful students and live in a home I love.  I wished I’d studied for a career instead of marrying a man who would leave me with nothing a year after our youngest child started college.”

The man studying the menu had spent more money on his haircut than I made in a month, the silver in his hair so elegant it shimmered under the fancy lights.  It had to be treated with something that cost more than my entire outfit.  I wanted to ask if he was wearing one of those expensive suits from Europe I’d read about.  I dare not tell him that it did nothing to slenderize a figure that showed his love for fine foods.

“Carla,” he said with teeth too white to be natural.  “Would you like me to order for you?”

“Mr. Zell, this is a business lunch.  The price for one dish costs more than my weekly meal allowance,”  I said.  “I’ll take a glass of water.”

He motioned to a man in a black suit with a white cloth over his arm and spoke in Italian, pointing out what he wanted on the menu.  Then he leaned onto the table and said, “I ordered a dish shared between 2 people.  If you don’t want to try any of it, you don’t have to.”

This stank like a road kill skunk baking in the summer heat.  He spoke about the kind way I handled difficult people who entered the lobby of his corporation, laughing at the way I ordered a subpoena server out of the building and refused to be intimidated by him.

I sipped on my water and sighed out my impatience. “Mr. Zell, this is a business lunch.  When are we going to discuss business?”

“After we have our wine,” he said.

The waiter appeared with a round tray that held 2 wine glasses, a large bottle of the red stuff, and the biggest honking cork screw I’d ever seen.  He jabbed it into the cork, making a popping sound when it came out.

“May I have that please?” I asked the waiter, pointing to the implement in his hand.  He held it out to me and walked away with his empty tray.

“Please, try the wine,” Mr. Zell said.  “The bouquet is…”

“See this?”  I asked, holding up the implement and pointing to the cork it was wound into. “This is the only think that’s getting screwed today.”

“I don’t understand,” he said, acting as if he were wounded to the core.

“I have a full scholarship.  I work to pay rent on a room in a house with 5 other people.  One of them is the owner.  I’m sure you’re well acquainted with Mrs. Jane Zell.  I would rather clean her house for half what you pay me than to endure your advances again.”

I folded my napkin, walked out of the restaurant, and wandered out the door, anxious to tell Mrs. Zell how I lost my job.