Paint Chips


I stand in line at the grocery store clutching three beers and a bag of popcorn. They are playing the Mission Impossible theme song over the loud speaker.

The man in front of me is short, hairy, from Azerbaijan, maybe. He smells like a man I met twenty-three years ago…

My Grandmother, used to go to AA. I don’t know if she still does, but, we were at AA; her, my brother, and I. There were donuts, I think. Coffee too, but I was too young to drink coffee. It was held in a church.

My brother and I were on these stairs, waiting. They were old and wooden; always leaving you with paint chips stuck to your trousers.

He looked a bit Anthony Hopkins, but fatter, with long hair, and a beard.

Maybe he didn’t look like Anthony Hopkins.

I don’t remember what my brother and I were doing; fighting, probably. This man, who didn’t look like Anthony Hopkins, approached us.

He walked right over, and pulled off his thumb. My eyes went wide, until I noticed the trick.

“It’s behind your hand!” my brother cried.

“Yeah!” I said, unsure.

He chuckled, “okay, okay,” he said. He held out his thumb to me. I grabbed it, confident. I pulled.

It came off in my hand.

The man, who didn’t look anything like Anthony Hopkins, roared with laughter. The little nub wiggled as he held it up to my brother’s horrified face. I dropped the rubber thumb onto the stairs. It rolled, gathering up paint chips.

The man snatched it up, fixed it to his hand, and walked off, laughing…

They are playing Shakira now, in the grocery store. The man, who might be from Azerbaijan, is trying to pay for cigarettes with a five-thousand ruble note. The cashier isn’t happy.

I lay my beers and popcorn down on the belt; stick my thumbs into my pockets, waiting.

13 replies to “Paint Chips

    1. By the way, I just nominated you for the mystery blogger award. If you want to complete it, the rules are on my latest blog post (don’t feel obliged to, though. I realize that they can take some time to do). Thanks for being awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much. Yes, unfortunately we both work and it takes a lot of time already to stay on top of getting a story and picture out each day. We really appreciate it but it’s a bit too much for our plate.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you! We are always aiming to keep people entertained. Glad this one hit home. It is pretty much a true story. I have always remembered that guy from AA. To be fair I think he was a friend of my Grandma’s. But it’s strange that the smell of a man all the way over here in Russia reminded me of some weird guy from central Massachusetts twenty-some-odd years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

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