KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Micro-Fiction: 368 words

While Driving to the James Dean Birth Site Memorial in Marion, Indiana

by Roberta Beary

I stop at the Big Bear Diner. It’s packed with carb addicts. I make my way to the only free seat, at the counter. Beefy customers, one on each side, wear supersized polyester Team-WTF jerseys. Which is not good. I’m allergic to unnatural fibers. Looking at my arms, I see red bumps multiplying. I start to itch. I order coffee. For its restorative qualities and because I’m dead tired. I don’t know how I got here from Manhattan but I did. I push the thought of the flight from LaGuardia to Indianapolis off to the side. Compartmentalize, my therapist calls it. My coffee arrives with six slices of white toast. “You look all skin and bones, it’s on the house,” a whiny voice says. I don’t eat flour, especially not white flour. Which is poison. But I pretend to take a small bite. I know how to be civil. I wasn’t raised in a barn. And actually had never seen one until today. But only from my rental car. I didn’t go inside any barns. That would make no sense.

Something greasy drips down my fingers. It’s butter. On the toast, spread on both sides. I reach for my napkin for some damage repair. When I lift the napkin off the metal box, pats of butter sealed in foil stare up at me. I count 16. And feel sick. Extra butter to put on buttered toast? Who does that? That’s not normal. “Check, please,” I politely request. While waiting, I pick up my fork and discreetly stab the first pat of butter, piercing its foil. I methodically work my way through all 16, then wrap everything up in a couple of napkins. I hold my head up high as I leave, thinking of all the people in Indiana I’ve saved from cardiac distress. I don’t leave a tip. That’s something to be earned. Besides, I’m in a hurry. I’ve got a Birth Site Memorial to get to. My hedge-fund boyfriend is meeting me there. He’s the James Dean fan. Not me. Which is odd. And kind of funny. Everyone who’s anyone knows James Dean was gay.


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