My mother said I don’t stand a ghost of a chance. It’s the same thing she used to tell me when she was alive, walking around all gussied up with an ultra-miniature schnauzer hanging from a gold chain leash around her neck, the long white gloves covering her elbows so know one would see her psoriasis and the schnauzer skirt all sequined out as she sat at the bar in the Palm drinking a Heinie with a straw waiting for the next Good-Time Charlie to walk in buy her a martini and escort her into the dining room for some oysters, sardines a poivre, and steak tartare while my father manned the Halal hot dog cart on the street looking in the window knowing my mother would take one bite of the Crème Brule and then go upstairs to Good Time’s room and take the mint sitting on the pillow and bring it home for him.
I didn’t know what I was going to do with the Halal hot dog cart my father left me when he skipped town. I got to keep the location outside the Palm restaurant. My mother had the shawarma cart right next to me that she never knew my father owned. Her business was brisk as she posed all gussied up with an ultra-miniature schnauzer hanging from a gold chain leash around her neck and long white gloves covering her elbows so no one would see her psoriasis and the schnauzer skirt all sequined out. Good-Time Charlies came and went into the Palm—some solo and most with dames on their arms and stogies in their mouths. One of the solo Good-Time Charlies with a folded newspaper tucked under his arm whispered to my mother and she handed me her shawarma knife put the gold-chained leashed schnauzer around my neck and arm in arm walked into the bar looking like a high class hooker but I was okay with it because I knew I was going to find a mint on my pillow when I woke in the morning.
Business was brisk as I manned my Halal hot Dog, shawarma, and Schnauzer cart outside the Palm restaurant. I had started the night with a half-dozen uber-ultra-miniature Schnauzers dangling from gold chain wrap-around-the-belly leashes next to the lamb for the shawarma and at the far end the kosher hot dogs boiling their skin to splitting and unlike all the other hot dog cart guys I let my customers condiment their own dogs so I had to keep re-filling the bowls of chopped onions, kraut, and sliced tomatoes. I was down to my last Schnauzer and saw that my mother and father were second in line behind the guy in the tux and his babe whining how she wanted a doggie and not a hot doggie but one of those cute curly-haired ones. My mother waved to get my attention and reached between the couple and handed me a stack of twenties and as I took it she yelled, “For the Schnauzer” and I yelled back “You don’t have a ghost of a chance” and then my father tapped tuxedo guy on the arm and when he turned around my father opened his jacket to show him the gat in his shoulder holster and he said to the couple “Blow” and inside the Palm the couple went. When I finally got a break, I looked through the Palm’s window and saw Tuxedo guy and his dame sitting at a table with my parents eating and laughing and the uber-ultra-miniature Schnauzer was walking around the restaurant, carrying a wrapped mint in his mouth, being ignored.
Paul Beckman’s fourth flash collection is Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press), was a finalist for the 2019 Short Story Indie Book Awards. His stories have appeared in the following publications as well as many others: Spelk, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, Thrice Fiction, and The Lost Balloon. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly at KGB’s Red Room in New York’s lower east side.