What stirs between the entities of luck and misfortune? This is the story of a post-grad’s determination to live her dreams; Through tarnished mishaps, she must pick herself up and polish herself off—again and again.
(Need to catch up? To read the first installment of “The Hollow Copper,” click here.)
With a throbbing jaw, Copper picked up the pennies and carried herself along on the sidewalk—luckily, the bus stop was close enough to be in view. There was no time to wallow, recount the madness that had ensued. Wallowing got you nowhere, and besides, she had escaped—the mugger hadn’t been able to snatch her handbag. Still, he was a moron for trying and even more of a moron for hitting her. As she stood at the bus stop, the previous events began flood in, swelling her mind with woe.
It wasn’t long before the bus whined and wheeled its way up; the sharp scent of diesel reached and burned Copper’s nostrils. She climbed the steps and dropped her coins into the bin; she spotted a window seat. Good. Copper sat with the intention to give her bag a firmer grasp; this put her mind at ease, but a sudden stirring eroded these efforts.
“I saw the whole thing.”
A rough, male voice echoed throughout the bus. Could this guy be talking to me? Sitting in the seat across from her, she could see that the voice was coming from a bald man, dark-skinned and long-legged; his limbs were lazily sprawled out on the other seat.
“I said, I saw the whole thing. Pretty bold move right there.”
Copper’s eyes darted in embarrassment.
“Uh—it was nothing.”
“You’re a survivor. I can tell.”
A surge of confidence, buried deep in her psyche, must have caused her to sit up—eyes included. She, then, noticed a crescent-shaped scar on the man’s right cheekbone. It gleamed, just like the wild, boyish eyes that twinkled above it.
“I thought no one saw—how’d you know?”
“I was over there—across the street. By the time I could get over there, that idiot hightailed it. I’da taken him out, if I was closer.
The bus grumbled and slowed, as Copper glanced out the window. Time to get off.
“My stop,” she gestured and stood.
“They call me Zayne,” he slyly smiled.
“Well, take it easy, Copper.”
The bus coughed and wheezed—and, whined, as Copper exited and entered the faceless blur of the city crowd. Threatening, dark clouds began to expand, just before Copper reached her destination. Metallic red and grey letters, DINO’S DINER scowled down at Copper, as she walked in the restaurant. An irresistible smell of coffee welcomed her, while yet another workday’s wave of sour-smelling grease wafted toward her, curdling her stomach. She snaked around the counter and pushed the swinging doors open, revealing the minuscule kitchen. She grabbed her dingy apron from the hanger, and then tied it around her waist. Before she could find any comfort in the fact that the area was vacant, that scrawny figure sprang up.
“Whoa. Er. What a nasty bruise. What happened to you? You fall? Got in a fight? Wow!”
It was Martin—9 o’clock—getting ready to wash dishes. She’d thought he couldn’t possibly be any more annoying than he was last week, when he went on and on about what had stained her blouse. But. No, he—he’d topped himself with his current behavior—carrying on with questions. What was this? An investigation?
“Well, hello to you, too.”
Martin threw up his palms and opened his mustached mouth to speak, “Easy, easy. Just checking on you.”
Copper sighed and finally spit it out, “A mugger punched my jaw on the way to the bus stop. Happy now, detective?
“Ouch. Tough break. Bet it scared the wits right on outta you, didn’t it?; Back in Puerto Rico, I took ’em out left and right. You glad he didn’t sock your other jaw, aren’t you?” He paused, “Hey, who you calling detective?”
With that, Copper had left the kitchen and was on her way to greet the first customer of the shift. Over the low chatter of the handful of diners, Copper could hear distant thunder fussing outside. Passing munching and sipping patrons, she made her way across the room to one beside a window. Peculiarly enough, she could see that the customer’s entire face was obscured by a menu. Hesitantly, Copper approached the figure; the day had been too rough not to be cautious. There was no telling who was hiding behind that darn menu. What else could go wrong? In a muffled and jittery tone, she mustered the courage with a cheap greeting, “Welcome to Dino’s Diner. What would you like today?” The figure sluggishly lowered the menu, and Copper could feel her gut sink, when her eyes settled on what she saw.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.