[WP] “You dropped this.” A stranger hands you a folded piece of paper, and vanishes into the crowd before you can say that it isn’t yours. [Link to post.]
“It’s not…” I yelled after the person, but I lost track of them in the crowd. “mine.” I shrugged, looked down, then unfolded the paper. It turned out to be a flyer for a local Chinese restaurant. I flipped the sheet to check both sides, but there were no other marks. “Musta been trash,” I thought to myself, then I took a step toward a nearby trash can. A coupon on the flyer caught my eye and my stomach growled. “Chinese sounds good,” I said as I checked the address on the ad. The restaurant, Donna Chang’s, was a couple of blocks around the corner.
The sun hung loose
in the sky and day was beautiful. Slight breeze, not too hot, not a dark cloud in sight. I decided to stroll the long way to the restaurant. I was in the heart of downtown on a Saturday late afternoon. The streets and shops overflowed with patrons, but everyone focused on their own business. As I passed an alleyway I heard commotion and warning shouts of “Hey! Whoa!” followed by a louder “TOMMY MOVE!!”
A small boy sat atop a tricycle staring up at a piano trying to fit into the side of a building coming loose from its straps. I didn’t realize I was running until after I had the blonde boy in my arms. After I grabbed him I tripped and stumbled, but managed to keep him safe. The piano flattened the tricycle seconds after we were clear. The boy’s father, a well dressed man, appeared at the exit from the building, and continued to run toward us.
“TOMMY! Are you okay?” The boy nodded and stood up, brushing dust from his pant knees.
“Yeah! This guy saved me! It was great!” Tommy pointed at me, still on the floor. I chuckled and accepted a hand up from his father. He introduced himself once I stood up, dusting myself off as well.
“Thank you so much,” he wrapped his arm around Tommy’s shoulder. “I don’t know what we would’ve done if you weren’t there.” He looked up at the side of the building at a woman wearing an elegant black and purple dress, then waved. “My wife fainted the instant the piano came loose.” I reached out and mussed Tommy’s hair.
“I’m glad I could help.”
“Please let us do something to thank you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold and silver pocket watch to check the time. “I have an appointment shortly, but maybe dinner after?” I waved him off.
“Nah, Im just glad he’s fine.” I looked at Tommy. “Probably not a good habit to be playing under piano movers, eh Tommy?” I asked with a chuckle, he nodded enthusiastically. “Besides, I’m already headed to eat.” I pulled the flyer from my pocket, surprised that it was in there. I thought I lost track of it, but I must have shove it into my jeans during the commotion. It came out all wrinkled and crushed together. “I got a coupon.” I laughed, then cringed to myself when he pulled the trashed flyer from my hand. He looked it over, then handed it back. I hoped he didn’t think I was hinting at a monetary reward by mentioning the coupon. “Well, good luck!” I waved at them to end the awkwardness, but he stopped me with a hand on my shoulder.
“I won’t forget that I owe you.” His grip on my shoulder firmed, extended his arm at the elbow in a formal handshake and locked his light brown eyes with mine. “The Flight stands with you,” he added with a stiff nod.
“Well, good luck!” I said again, and waved my way out of the alley. I tried to figure out what he meant, but no matter how much I tossed it over in my mind, I didn’t get it. I did end up walking two blocks past the restaurant though, and had to turn back. By the time I turned around and reached the restaurant an elderly Asian woman stood at the window pulling the lead on the ‘Open’ sign to shut it off. She saw me approach.
“Closed. Special reservation,” she waved me away.
“But I have a coupon!” I pressed the crumpled flyer against the glass window. It was silly, but my mind had yet to recover from the falling piano. It felt like I really needed the normalcy of using a coupon to ground me after the weirdly weird day I’d had. She must have taken pity on me, because she moved toward the door, unlocked it, then waved me in. The first thing I saw was a big table full of men, I guessed they were the special reservation. I took a step toward the other end of the restaurant, away from them, but the woman stopped me.
“I don’t want to bother your special guests,” I said, trying to free myself of her guiding grip.
“You special guest too!” she said. We reached the table and I was surprised to see Tommy’s father sitting in one seat at the far right. He nodded at me. The woman spoke, pushing me forward slightly as an introduction.
“Today we have an emissary from the Western Dragons,” she said. Then she pointed at Tommy’s father and introduced them going clockwise.
“The Royal Flight.” After Tommy’s father she pointed to a man wearing a black leather jacket.
“The Blackwings.” Then she continued through the rest.
“The IceWyrms.” An older Asian man that I initially assumed was her husband.
“The Forest.” A young woman wearing a silky green scarf.
“And, The Red.” A poised woman wearing a blood red business suit.
“Whoa, I think I’m in the wrong place guys. I just wanted to get some Sweet & Sour chicken, I didn’t plan on joining any clubs.” I put my hands up in the air with a shrug and a step back. “No problem though, I’ll just go somewhere else.”
“But your invitation?” the woman that made the introductions asked.
“What invitation?” I asked
“The coupon,” Tommy’s father said. I pulled it out of my pocket, surprised it was still in one piece.
“Yeah, it’s just a coupon,” I said and handed it to the woman. She held it up to me and pointed to a spot on the paper.
“Can you read this?” She asked. I nodded.
“Yeah, $4.99. Dinner entree with steamed or fried rice.” She pulled the paper from my face then walked a circle around me eyeing me up and down.
“Where did you get this?” she asked me. I shrugged.
“Someone gave it to me on the street thinking I’d dropped it, but it wasn’t mine.” She smiled at me.
“Okay, you can go.” She walked me out, but grabbed a card as we walked by the register. “Sorry for confusion, please come back when we are open to the public.” She put a full punch card in my hand. “On the house.” Then she shoved me out the door and locked it again.