No one, Really. By Randal Houle

Meet Tom. He seems very middle-of-the-road, average. He works at Walgreens on the corner of Lake City Road and 145th in Seattle. His till is never off by even a penny. He greets every customer with the same inflection, offers the daily special, and then rings up the purchase. “Our daily special is two for five dollars…” There is no conviction in how he presents the options. If you say yes, he’ll ring up the purchase as if it were completely your idea. If you say no, he continues as if the conversation never happened.

After work, Tom dons a pair of large headphones that play Gregorian chant to drown out the city while he takes a bus during the wet months. In the summer, he walks the three miles to his one bedroom apartment. This summarizes Tom’s life for the last ten years.

“Our daily special is two cookies for three dollars.”

Go ahead, ask him something. “Are they any good?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tried them.”

You pick them up and add them to the lot. Good job.

Later, Tom ends his shift. As he passes the counter with the cookies under the sign “Daily Special,” he swipes a package and slips it in his pocket. The checker doesn’t even notice. She never looks at Tom.

The next day, Tom fails to show up for his shift and no one remembers the last time they saw him.


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Filed under Randal Houle

12 responses to “No one, Really. By Randal Houle

  1. Unexpected ending, leaving the possibilities wide open. Well done, Randal.

  2. I feel sorry for him. He’s all alone, and no one remembers him, even when he does something wrong. I wonder if he did it just to see if anyone would notice?

    Good story.

  3. Lovely. Unexpected, but perfectly done.

  4. This leaves me so sad. There are so many people like this in the world. Peace…

  5. Randal Houle

    After my wife’s sadness over this story, and the above, I have decided to write a series of stories featuring this character. They should start appearing after next week’s “Animal Behvior.” Stay tuned.

  6. Some wear their “Freak-Flag” openly and some keep it well hidden. Looking forward to see what happens to Tom next.

  7. Fragile and unexpected details weave throughout this, You do have a complex and sad character here, Randal. If you do create more stories (please do!) I think there are some lines here that you could omit, like:

    “This summarizes Tom’s life for the past ten years.”

    Not sure if you need this if we get different snapshots of his life in future 52/250 snapshots?

  8. Pingback: Week #35 – Loose connections | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  9. Kim Hutchinson

    Nice portrait, Randal. Love the ending!

  10. Glad he finally broke out of his mold. Hope he managed to find a bit of happiness in life.

    Welcome to #FridayFlash.

  11. I like the tone you have used here. It reflects the ten years of monotony he has suffered. I hope he finds his way….

  12. Pingback: Flash Favorites! | Wink/Nudge

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