Brolly Folly By Theresa Milstein One rainy evening, when Bree enters a bar preparing to con the other customers, a most unlikely regular threatens to expose her secret.
ree flicked her red umbrella shut and shook it to rid it of raindrops. She gazed up from the doorway of the bar to see a haggard man standing, mouth agape with a cigarette dangling from his cracked lips. “You…you…just landed here from the sky. How did you do that?” She chuckled as she leaned her umbrella against the wall. Then she entered the cave. Before she could stop herself, Bree scrunched her nose against the stench of stale beer and desperation. Recovering, she squared her shoulders and sashayed to the bar. The only woman there, she felt every pair of eyes burn through her tiny dress. “What’ll it be, Miss?” the stereotypical bartender asked, pouring a beer from the tap for another customer. He had the kind of face that invited customers to spill their secrets. Wouldn’t he like to know hers? She opened her mouth to reply when the man from outside stumbled over to where she sat and took the next stool. “I saw what you did.” Bree chuckled again, and again turned to the bartender. “You choose for me.” Men loved thinking they were in charge. When she opened her crimson handbag, the bartender waived his hand dismissively. The haggard man stood and shouted, “This woman, she appeared out of thin air, right out of the sky.” The men roared with laughter. “Bill’s had too much to drink.” “Who’s gonna take him home tonight?” “Not me. I’ve wiped his vomit out of my car for the last time.” Too drunk to be offended, he asked Bree, “Was it you who did it? Are you a witch? Or was it a magical
umbrella?” He leaned in, his breath reeking worse than the bar. “I guess you could’ve enchanted the umbrella. I bet you’re a witch either way.” “Maybe she’s freakin’ Mary Poppins.” “Something like that.” Way back when she was respectable, she had been a nanny but it paid like dreck. She held her mug up. “Cheers.” The haggard man skulked away. “What do you do?” The man, who had on previous occasions wiped up vomit, “I’m a fortune teller.” “Oh yeah? Tell me, am I gonna get lucky tonight?” Just then, Bree spied a crack of light leak into the room. An ornery woman in the doorframe looked squarely at her. Bree pretended she hadn’t noticed, cleared her throat and said, “I predict you won’t get lucky for some time. Your wife is going to be furious.” The ornery woman marched over to the man who had just hit on Bree. A shouting match ensued between the couple. The inebriated men believed she had predicted it. Soon they begged for her to tell their fortunes. When she was done, the “fortune teller” had bamboozled over $200 from the men and gotten a few free drinks. A success. When Bree stepped outside, it was dark and clear. She reached down to retrieve her umbrella, but it was gone. Surely no man, even a drunk one, would be caught dead with a bright red umbrella. Then Bree realized her handbag was no longer on her arm. Maybe she’d had too much to drink. She hurried back into the nearly empty bar to retrieve her bag holding the cash… … just as the haggard man ran off in the back alley of the bar, handbag in one hand, umbrella in the other. He floated away.
THERESA MILSTEIN has several short pieces published in anthologies and journals. While her published works are
for adults, she primarily writes for children and is active in the New England chapter of SCBWI (Society for Book Writers and Illustrators). She lives in Arlington, Massachusetts with her husband, two children, a dog-like cat, and a cat-like dog. Contact Teresa at email@example.com or visit her blog at http://theresamilsteinblogspot.com. Twisted Endings March 2013 | 5