Alan Furlong Works in a Bakery by Dan Nielsen

“What can I get you?” Max the bartender said. “Will you be needing a menu?”    

Alan Furlong thought long and hard about what he was going to say, and then he said it, but by then the situation had changed and he was speaking with a different person. The situation now was a job interview, and the different person, Curtis Nelson, wore a white apron and had flour on his face. 

Alan said, “Yes, I would like a menu, and a bottle of Pabst, please.” 

Curtis had no idea what Alan was talking about. Maybe he’d misunderstood. He let it go. He said, “There are certain places you’d best stay away from, but those are disgusting places where you wouldn’t want to go anyway, so don’t worry about it.” Curtis was referring to the area behind the coolers, and the rotting baseboards on the wall facing the alley.  

Alan thought about this. He waited. On the bus ride home, a small boy, Jordan Cloud, sat down next to him.     

Alan said, “What does that have to do with working in a bakery?”

Jordan, who reminded Alan of himself as a small boy, opened his eyes so wide they might have fallen out. His mouth formed an O. His face, running out of space, closed its eyes, and then its mouth. The boy said nothing, but Alan could see that he was thinking, thinking hard, taking his time. Alan smiled at this. Never blurt.    

That evening, Alan had to remain at the table until he finished his peas. Alan hated peas. He wished he’d never opened the can. He finished the peas. He put the bowl in the sink. He went to bed. He needed to get up early. Tomorrow was his first day at the bakery.  

Jordan, the small boy from the bus, played Scrabble with his Aunt Harriet. Harriet scored a Triple Word and wrote the point total down on the special pad.

Jordan said, “I know nothing about a bakery, and please leave me alone.”   

Dan Nielsen is a septuagenarian part-time open-mic standup comic. Recent FLASH in: Connotation Press, Jellyfish Review, (mic)ro(mac), Necessary Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, and Cheap Pop. Dan has a website: Preponderous, you can follow him @DanNielsenFIVES. He and Georgia Bellas are the post-minimalist art/folk band Sugar Whiskey.

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