Flashback Friday, Creative Writing Style


A young man sits at the counter of a pharmacy, sipping a cup of lukewarm coffee, black, no sugar. Beneath a raggedy oversized overcoat, exposed flesh peeks from a coin-sized hole in the center of a whitish tee-shirt. His pants are denim and tapered over scruffy black boots.

Remembering the cigarette he bummed from a homeless man in Hell's Kitchen a few hours ago, he slips it from behind his grimy ear and slides it into the corner of his mouth. Outside in the evening rush, business suits scurry past as he strikes a flame against a soggy matchbook. 

He loves this city because it is the loneliest city, and he is the loneliest man. He can do what he wants-- do nothing if he wants-- without his father's constant nagging and putdowns. People barely notice him, and on the rare occasion when they do, dismiss him for one of those beatnik losers. 

Squinting behind thick framed glasses, Scotch tape on the bridge, he sits hunched over the cold cup. "Coffee," asks a gum chewing waitress, ginger locks held under a net.




"Look, I can't make sense-a-ya mumblin'. I don't got time for this," she snaps. "My shift's almost ova."

The young man glares at his coffee.

"I need to finish serving you, so's I can go. Get it?

He ignores her and flicks ashes on the counter.

"Asshole." The waitress storms off. He listens as she complains to the manager that some greaser is giving her a hard time. 

"This ain't the Russian Tea Room. If you don't like it, you can quit." 

"Probably got no bread anyway," she mutters. 

Brooding, he pulls off another match and lights it. Inches away from his face, his lips curl up in a mischievous grin.

Shit. He'd almost forgotten about his audition tomorrow morning at CBS. Taking the script out of his coat pocket, he flips through it. Fairly confident about his lines, he still feels the anxiety build in his stomach and beat against the hunger.

Every time he goes to auditions, it ends in disaster. The casting agents give him the once-over and reject him. If he gets to read, they interrupt and complain about his mumbling. No one can fathom how he expects to have a career as anything other than a janitor.

How come when Brando does it, you people think he's a genius?

"Brando's a star. Something you will never be."

He's going to show them. Every single one of them. Someday, they'd take notice. Regret how badly they had treated him. His father, the waitress, the casting agents-- they would all come to know his genius, his name.

James Byron Dean.

But for now, the young man is content to sit alone in the dingy drugstore with his script and bitter, cold coffee. He lets the anxiety overtake him and absentmindedly rubs the matchbook between his fingers.


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