This is something new here on the blog. I've not done a lot of flash fiction, or short stories for that matter, so every now and then I'll create something special for the blog.
This story features a character from my New Pulp series The Captain Hawklin Adventures. and the following event takes place after the 1937 adventure "the Shadow Men". Watch for book 7 "the Lost Land" to be released 4/14/20
By Charles F. Millhouse
August 25, 1937
There were three things Oz Lyman liked more than anything. Burgers, baseball and beer. That’s why Huffington’s Pub had been his favorite place to go since he discovered it back in nineteen-twenty-eight.
The woosh, woosh, whoosh of the four ceiling fans worked overtime amid the mixture of chatter, and the Crown City Captains’ game coming over the radio on Huff’s counter. The pub was bursting at the seams with baseball fans – men and women alike, though there were more men than women. Cheers came, when the game announcer exclaimed, “He did it again, Captains fans... Jimmy, the Dozer, Donovan has his eighth homerun this season.”
Oz tipped his frosted mug toward the radio and took a long draw from the glass. He sat alone in his favorite corner booth at the back of the establishment and watched the other patrons. Oz didn’t have many friends besides Steven Hawklin and Hardy Miller. There wasn’t a lot of time for any others, and Oz had always thought people would only want to be his friend, if they knew he worked for Captain Hawklin, so he refrained from telling too many people. With work, and the occasional adventure, Oz had barely enough time for himself, let alone entertaining more friends.
When a plate of food slid in front of him, Oz focused on the heavenly aroma of Huff’s famous steak burger and house cut fries. He pulled the plate to him and reached for a bottle of ketchup.
“Oz, look at your hands.”
Oz glanced up at his waitress, Mindy, and then back at his stained hands. “They’re clean,” he assured her. “Just stained from working with a new type of oil we are developing at...” he stumbled over his words and said, “the garage.”
“Maybe you should develop something to get your hands clean,” Mindy smiled. “What you need is a woman to come home to, she...” Now Mindy stumbled over her words. “She could look after you.”
Oz cleared his throat, and coyly looked up at Mindy. Mindy was around his age, maybe in her late thirties with dark brown hair and beautiful rustic eyes. She had lost her husband to cancer back in nineteen thirty and Hardy had been trying to find the nerve to ask her out for several years now. But he considered himself not much to look at and kept any idea of a romantic relationship out of his head.
Oz was a short man. He’d been called apish by some, and an imp by others. He had a bulldog face that always had a scruffy five o’clock shadow. He primarily wore green work pants, a grey button down and his dirty green ball cap. No woman finds me attractive, he often told himself. But looking up into Mindy’s eyes, just for an instant he wondered what it would be like to come home to her.
Oz had never loved a woman before, not that he’d given himself a chance to. The last thing any woman would want would be a dirty little guy like him – he wasn’t a price package, and he didn’t have much to offer anyone besides a room at a boarding house, that he didn’t live in. he spent his days and night toiling in Captain Hawklin’s Silver Bridge apartment, not really a place to offer a potential girlfriend or wife. Oz choked on the first bite of his burger with that thought and gulped some beer to force down the hunk of meat lodged in his throat.
Mindy repeatedly slapped Oz on the back, grabbed the cloth napkin on the table and wiped his mouth. “You alright?” she asked with a thin smirk.
Oz reached for the napkin, and grazed Mindy’s hand with his. They both stopped and looked at one another for a couple heartbeats, and then quickly recoiled from one another. Mindy smiled with her eyes and picked up his half-filled mug. “I’ll get you a refill... on the house,” she said.
Oz watched Mindy as she crossed the room and stopped at the bar. She peered back at him demurely and batted her eyes as she waited for Huff to refill the mug. The crowd cheered again as the announcer shouted from the radio and drew Oz’s attention back to the game.
The new mug of beer arrived at the table, he thanked Mindy with a silent stare and took a deep drink cleansing his palate. Mindy opened her mouth to say something but closed it when someone from a nearby table shouted, “Waitress!”
Oz watched Mindy for another moment or two and then went back to his food, his final thought as he bit into the burger, Who, would want a scruffy guy like me?
Oscar, Oz Lyman appears in the New Pulp series, The Captain Hawklin Adventures.