tagFirst TimeA Misanthrope and Artichokes

A Misanthrope and Artichokes

byPayDay©

Author's Note: This is my story, I wrote it, and stealing is lame. If you don't like it, don't read it. This story is now perfectly self-edited (bring it). All of my characters, in all of my stories, are over eighteen, or older, any time they get naked and have intercourse. Thanks to all the favorites and feedback, hope you enjoy. This story has been re-submitted for spacing errors that might have been entirely my fault along with random and minor tweaks, so all feedback was potentially valid at the time it was originally posted.

A Misanthrope and Artichokes

Or

A Variation on a Story

The sound was eerily similar to that of a horse smacking its lips together. The sound of boredom expressed without words. This particular sound came from Penelope Alvarez as she leaned into the employee side of the checkout counter of the small deli and convenience store where she worked. She was a perfect woman for most, intelligent and athletic, but also naturally sexy and graceful.

So, the sound made little sense, to no one in particular, at first.

Most would think her gorgeous by looking at her never-ending legs, or the bottom curves of her cheeks just peeking out of her beige short shorts, or her heavy breasts hung against the oversized green 'uniform' shirt, or her softly ethnic facial features with golden brown skin across her body, but it was her movements as she leaned that were naturally sexy for the others: her shiny black pony tail swinging lightly in tune with her knee, her knee of the bent right leg moving side to side, her calf of the straightened leg as it randomly flexed, or her bangs left to hang on one side of her face while constantly fixing the other side behind her ear. (bam) No one, though, was able to see a smile with perfect teeth, for Penelope had a problem.

Penelope was bored - hence the sound. Tuesday nights, the last few hours before closing, always sucked the life from her. She worked the night shift Tuesday through Saturday, and Tuesday was like this most of the time. On occasion, there had been a customer or twenty with large orders, she was betting and hoping on such things, but she knew the odds of such were worse than the beeping lottery machine to her left.

The sound, similar to a horse, was heard by no one, again.

Penelope knew this was not where she was supposed to be, this was not what she was meant for, and that only made the boredom worse. The boredom deafened her, defined her, and depressed her now. She was too energetic, too perky for this, but money always wins when there is none left over. She was stuck in her current life, and she missed her old life, the life she was living. The rumor ruined that old life.

Gone were the groups of friends and endless parties and trips associated with them. Gone were the random kindnesses associated with beauty. Gone was her happiness and ability to love; the two things that she wanted most right now. Gone was her ability to get any job in town but this one.

The rumor had been ruining her life for the last two of her twenty-five years. It had ruined her out of community college. It had ruined her out of her father's home and into her small efficiency apartment. It had even ruined her out of her family, friends, and love, into the job she now worked.

The worst part of the whole rumor/boredom situation being that the rumor was not true. If the rumor did not exist, she would be somewhere else, and she would not be bored somewhere else, because she was the life of the party. Those wrongs everyone in her previous and current life so sternly accused her of had never happened. Well, mostly did not happen. Either way, she was still all by herself and stuck with it.

As Penelope pondered her hole and more attempts out of it, through doldrums of boredom, she waited at the counter next to the phone, lottery machine, and register. Not a customer to be seen as she fell onto the counter with her left elbow, perfect apple-bottom in the air. In the last hour, before she began to draw invisible shapes on the plastic scratch guard over the counter, above the menus and winning tickets, no one had called in an order on the deli line.

Penelope had cleaned the store, and the grill; it was cold sandwiches, quick groceries, and cigarettes only time. She was now bored enough to contemplate doing more of someone else's work.

She was almost lost in her space, alone in the store, as she dropped her chin to the palm of her supporting arm and began tapping a finger to her temple. Penelope knew all the prices and specials, memorized as a consequence of past Tuesdays, there was nothing there but the same, so she compared that to her life.

Penelope glanced over at her cell phone, her only phone with zero options, tucked in a corner behind the register to her right. No calls, no messages, not for many days now. The only calls she ever received these days were those from people who needed her to cover a shift; those of the older ladies with families and friends. Customers had told most of her co-workers of the rumor, this was her hometown, so they seldom spoke to her otherwise. Nothing here or there but the same.

"Fucking Tuesdays..." she said aloud to herself after moving her gaze back to the winning ticket, below the plastic. It was a twenty-five dollar winner on a "Money 4 Life" scratch-off that she had been tracing with her free hand. Penelope had an hour until posted store closing, thirty minutes until she could "close early" due to lack of business. Her boredom would continue sustaining itself, as would her contemplation, contemplating everything she could because she was bored.

She was contemplating hating the people that put her here, and everyone they knew. She was contemplating adopting a pet to ease her pain. She was contemplating how twenty-five dollars was winning for life. She was contemplating if that was a conundrum or irony. She was contemplating stealing dinner from the deli counter again. She was contemplating how she almost cried at a one dollar tip in her empty jar earlier in the evening. She was contemplating trashing hope and faith.

Penelope was so lost in random thoughts that she never heard the bell as the young man entered, at least, not until the door closed.

***

"D-d-done, fi-i-inal-ly," the young man of twenty-five said vocally as he finished, setting the soldering iron down on its burn proof stand. He plugged his obsession in and began testing.

Wilbert was a listener and a looker, but always at a distance. He watched people be people, and he listened to what things could tell him, whenever they could tell him anything - seldom creepy. He couldn't help but look and listen, as talking for him was always a mess. Right now, instead of a person, object(s), or people, he was listening to his stomach growl. He needed real food beyond caffeine, and he also needed a shower.

He smiled to himself as he packed the tested servo motor into the box with the bubble wrap and a static bag, packaging that he had set aside just for it. His nearby computer, as it shut down, played the 'log off' tone just as he folded over the edges of the box and began taping. He was being proud of himself, the only person he knew who always was.

Two days straight it had taken him to build, that's the type of thing he did. He loved electronics and appliances; he always had, especially to his mother's detriment when he disassembled something she needed more often than not during his youth.

He loved electrical things enough to make specialty parts in a hurry for well paying opposite coast and international clients. Sometimes he loved them to detriment of sleep and appetite; he loved the part he had just made that much. He loved electronics more than people, as electronics never berated him for his odd ways and people almost surely did.

Well, people except for her. She had never really spoken to him though, more so the other way around. After eighteen years of unrequited love, longer than he knew what love was, she disappeared, even though in his mind, he had never existed as far as she knew. Now, mid-twenties, he could not remember how long it had been since last time he had seen her. Silently, he cursed himself for not speaking to her in grade school, then middle school, then high school, then college, when he had the chance.

Wilbert Martin Powers really had not meant to faint that day at college, the last time he had seen her.

He never meant to faint period, but he always did when he was overwhelmed, or almost when she spoke in his presence. When he awoke in the dark, on the college lawn and next to some hedges, he knew she was gone and had not even seen him.

In fact, no one had seen him faint, and no one realized he was not around. His lifelong one-sided Juliet had only accidentally bumped in to him, almost running, and then continued on. He would have bet money that she did not know his name. That was also the first day he heard the rumor, but he knew it couldn't be true - well, not entirely true.

The last time he had seen her was the closest he had been to her since Language class in fifth grade.

He had fainted that day too, but at least the school had called an ambulance. That was the day they started calling him "WiMP" and it continued even now that he was halfway to fifty, some of his more evil ex-classmates still lived around the area. This was his hometown though, so he chose safety over friends and a new life. At least he always knew where he was going around the sparsely populated town, he really only went to the supermarket, hardware store, and deli.

With little time in social context, he managed to keep the taunts, and faints, to a minimum. It wasn't that he was unattractive, in fact the opposite, and it wasn't that he was a 'loner' intentionally. Wilbert was just a super smart nerd with a speech impediment and glasses. So much so, that even the small children in his neighborhood called him 'the stuttering dork' and egged his house every Halloween and Friday.

Wilbert set the now sealed box off to the side, checking to make sure his soldering iron, and other tools and gadgets were off. Double checking the address on the package, for shipping, he flicked the lamp on his work bench off, making his way towards his home and away from his little shop at the back of the house. He took a deep breath of fresh, late summer air as he walked through his over groomed yard, and past his in-ground pool, proud of his hard work here as well.

Wilbert waved to his only friends along the way, his neighbors, the Evans's, sitting on their screened-in porch, a short distance above, and past, his privacy fence. They were a nice and wealthy retired couple, and he was always happy to help them when they needed it, free of charge.

He was equally as well off after his parent's accident, even more so since his small business had taken off well from an after school hobby. Wilbert set his own hours these days, so he was always around to help the neighbors -- friends - whenever he could, or if they asked.

The couple returned his wave, the gray man throwing out "Glad you're done Billy! You shouldn't work so much, lad! Honestly, Billy, two days straight?! You need to find a good woman! It worked for me!" He kissed his equally aged wife as he finished hollering. The pair of retirees returned back into their wicker and comfortable silences after sensing Wilbert was not in the mood to chat.

He clearly smiled at the older gentleman and continued walking through the well lit landscaping, but he knew "Old Man" Evans was correct. Right now he loved the idea of a shower and the thoughts of food more than his benevolent electricity, and conversations about women, so he decided to skip an attempt at a talk with his best, only, and understanding, friend, other than Mrs. Evans and Lumpy.

He made it to his deck at the back of the house before he remembered the note he had written on Sunday night, after he shaved last, just before bed. The note attached to his fridge that read "you only have beer and milk in here, so go shopping tomorrow before you start on the new contract."

"C-crap-p-pola," he said to himself, the only person he tried to speak with often, as he ran his hand through his side-parted blonde hair, absently smoothing the calic at the back. "W-what t-t-t-time is it? ...E-e-excellen-ent," Wilbert said as he checked his watch, "8-8:3-3-30, I've g-got t-t-t-t-time, b-b-b-but-t I-i c-can't-t-t ss-shave if-f I'mmm g-gon-na m-mm-m-make it."

As he ran in to the house and towards the shower, he was trying to figure out the last time he had been to LaVino's Deli, two blocks away, when it wasn't lunchtime.

"Has to be like two years, right?" He was gargling water in the shower when he spoke the answer to the thought, and it was not clearly. It had taken him that long to figure out, when Penelope Alvarez disappeared from his life, through the fog of mind and memory and the shower.

***

The sound of the bell on the closing door finally snapped Penelope out of her daze, causing her to look up. It was just in time to see the back of the young man's head, his blonde hair, and his ass in his cargo shorts. She was the sexual type, and a stunningly attractive flirt to go with it, but she had been alone since the rumor, and now found herself staring at every ass, even the bad ones, without saying a word.

It was really all too much for her, being so pent up, and any chances at sex or relief were only with those dirty sleaze balls that clearly believed in lies. So she had zero chances. Maybe if she had a car, she could get away, but she left her father's house with nothing but clothes and a few dollars for a gross motel. Going from nothing to extreme poverty took this long; the car would have to wait.

So Penelope watched the ass of the blonde man disappear, around an aisle, but his face was now visible. She knew him, the odd kid from her school days, the one who fainted in fifth grade when she asked him for the scissors.

He was a smart one, but odd to her; always looking, never talking; a bad joke in motion with Alfalfa's sprouts to boot. She smiled to herself, and chastised herself for it, thinking of the day the principle had read the valedictorian speech. Wilbert ran off the stage, only moments after arriving at the podium, never saying a word beforehand.

She had felt sorry for him that day, he did look terribly nervous, almost like he was going to cry, but it was still funny in a mean kind of way. Mean especially, because many of the students began chanting "WiMP! WiMP!" as he ran off the stage, and they were oblivious to the understanding looks of the parents and administrators all the while.

As he walked through the aisles of pre-packaged gourmet foods, with Penelope watching in silence, Wilbert wished at the various items like he wanted them all, while she continued recalling what she knew about him; more pleased for the distraction than she anticipated.

The two had gone to school, and college together, memories of him always in the distance. Penelope could not recall ever seeing him anywhere else though. Vaguely, Penelope remembered hearing about the local couple that had died in an accident with a deer shortly after she graduated high school, and that they were his parents.

In the eighteen or so years of their proximity, and extended silences, it was her first attempt at his influences of personality, and the first time Penelope wanted to talk to Wilbert instead of barely asking something of him or saying nothing. He had somehow lodged in her head.

Penelope knew he was never at a school dance, never at a college party. She would know since she had been to them all. Before the rumor, she was the popular one, the first squad cheerleader one, the always invited one, and the one who always had a date with the hunkiest guys around.

Sympathy suddenly flooded her mind; she was accidentally where he had been for a long time: Alone. She continued dreaming with open eyes as he filled his taut arms with cans and bags of the various fine foods the deli offered. His muscles were flexing to contain all of the items, when baskets were but a few short feet away.

"He's grown up since school," she thought to herself, now seeing a quiet awkward man instead of a scared and fragile kid who always fainted. She also studied his profile, guessing that he worked out, but not too much, as his dark blue t-shirt fit him nicely, all the while imagining him naked.

"Get a hold of yourself, potential or not, he won't want a thing to do with you. He probably knows the rumor like everyone else. Besides, he's never spoken to you. He's just a customer," she was trying to convince herself, but failing. This was the first entertaining thing in hours, and it was keeping her feelings from hate and boredom.

He finally looked satisfied as he made his way to the counter, and the register, as if he would fall if he stopped trying. The way he carried himself and his items was pure sweet amusement to Penelope. She couldn't help but giggle at his awkward demeanor while he stared at the small can he held in one hand - the only thing not in his arms. He was fascinated by the can, as if it could fix the world.

Wilbert stopped walking at the sound immediately though, at the sound of female laughter. He stopped at the giggles that were long ago burnt into his memory. He was only a few paces from the counter when he heard it, and his jaw dropped as he lifted his head. He had found her, and he forgot where he was, and what he was doing. All he could hear was her husky voice, slowly fading into the distance.

A small can of artichokes fell from his grip, he ignored it, his fascination was relocated.

His Juliet was before him.

"You want a sandwich or something, Billy?" Penelope was smiling at him and his lack of tact, suddenly remembering the years of middle school all at once. He had followed her around even back then, always in silence, always detached at a distance. Even though he had grown up, grown up handsome and strong, the look on his face, now, was the same as it was back then.

"Billy...?" Penelope trailed off while she watched his eyes roll into his head, the mock groceries fall out of his arms, and his body fall to the floor.

He had fainted, again.

"Oh, Billy..." Penelope said as she walked around the counter to the fallen man and checked his pulse. For the first time in eighteen years, the first time of their entire non-existent relationship, Penelope Alvarez touched Wilbert Powers.

Noting that he was alive, and warm, she smiled, walked over to the door, and locked it, turning off the light for the sign as she did. For once, surprisingly glad for a slow Tuesday night and cleaning jobs finished early, Penelope quickly returned to the fallen man to try and wake him. She flipped the sign to "Closed" before she went, fifteen minutes earlier than allowed by policy when there was little business.

***

Someone was saying his name over and over. That did not make much sense to Wilbert, since few people knew his name, or cared enough to repeat it. He heard it again, like it was hushed and in another room. He was hearing it over the pain in his head and the pats to the stubble on his face.

And then his nose started burning...

Really burning...

Someone was tickling his brain with stinky fire.

***

"Are you alright?" Penelope waited until Wilbert finished blinking before she said anything.

"I-i-i, I t-t-think-k I-i-i..."

"Fainted? Yes, you did, Billy." Her face was all sympathy, angelic sympathy. "Are you ok?" Penelope put angelic concern on her face when he didn't answer, along with a slight smile, as Wilbert sat up. He was looking around while rubbing the back of his head. Apparently, he did not know where he was, or that's what it appeared to be.

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byPayDay© 10 comments/ 19951 views/ 4 favorites

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