An animal trainer
“Don’t eat that!”
By Pace Rubadeau
An animal trainer walks into a bar.
“Sit anywhere you like,” says the bartender, huffing breath onto a smudged pint glass. He wipes it clean as his new customer pulls up a worn stool.
“Looks like I’m just in time for happy hour,” she says with a smile. The bartender nods his head and slides a menu across the bar.
“Indeed. Got about ten minutes left. Can I see some ID?” He drums the countertop as the animal trainer hands over her license. “Thanks,” he continues, as he flips the card over. “Huh. That’s an interesting last name. How do you pronounce it?”
“Just like it looks,” she says with a shrug. “Owls. Becca Owls.”
“Sounds like a private eye or somethin’. My name’s Mark. Mark Fields. But everyone round here calls me Cornfields.”
“And you think my name is interesting,” Becca scoffs. “What’s your story?” Mark emits a quiet laugh before answering.
“Well I used to own a food-cart across the street called ‘Get Shucked.’ Sold corn-on-the-cob. Just corn-on-the-cob. Like that Whole Bowl place. But with corn-on-the-cob. Thought it would be a good business venture with a low overhead and all, since that was all we sold.” He sighed and stared at the ground for a moment. “Long story short, my wife and I split up. She was the main financial backer of the business, so I had to throw in the towel and close it down.”
“Sorry to hear that. But why the name?”
“I just really like corn,” he replied flatly. “Anybody who knows me knows that. Shucked. Creamed. Straight off the cob. I miss the place, but…things have a way of working out.”
“Cheers to that,” Becca said, offering up a solid high-five. “Now you’re working at one of the coolest dive bars this side of the Willamette. And I’ll have you know, I have high standards.”
“Thanks Becca, that’s nice to hear. I’d like to say that it’s all because of-” he stops short as Becca moves to grab a fistful of pretzels from an adjacent bowl. “Don’t eat that!” Mark interjects.
“Sorry,” she says with a jumping blush. “I thought they were for the customers.”
“No worries,” he replied with a dismissive hand. “Those are just my special pretzels. I should really keep them somewhere else. Can I get you something to drink?”
Becca furrows her brow and takes in the menu. “Well, I’m not sure what kind of mood I’m in.”
“How you mean?”
“Whether it’s a spending four dollars on happy hour food kind of day, or spending eight dollars on a cocktail kind of day.”
“Why not both? Go for the cocktail. I’ll make you up something special to eat. On the house.”
“Well thank you kindly, Cornfields. But what’s the catch?”
“No catch,” Mark said. “Just like surprising people. I also like puppies and long walks on the beach. And doughnuts.”
“Well wouldn’t you know it,” Becca replies with a smile. “Those three mean the world to me. I’m sure we have more in common than that even. Favorite food?”
“Pizza,” he stated, with no hesitation. “It’s my go-to, be it breakfast, lunch, or late-night dinner.”
“Old school rap. Ska. And Justin Timberlake on occasion.”
“Brilliant,” she replied with a light laugh. “That’s two for two. But this is too easy. Let’s try something more obscure to find out how much we’re meant to be. Hmm. Favorite television show from say…the eighties. On three.”
“Sledge Hammer!” They both yelled together.
© 2013 Pace Rubadeau