Lime Green Buddha Part One
As Featured in the February 2012 issue of EFiction magazine
I thought the original version of this was a little long for one HUB, so I've decided to serialize it into two. Please check the link at the bottom of this HUB to read the exciting conclusion!
The following story contains some images which may be objectionable to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.
There’s a little Asian goods store across the street from my apartment. I walk by the shop everyday on my way to work every day and every day I see this lime green Buddha Ash Tray happily smiling at me through the store front windows. I'm drawn by the rotund belly and jovial face of the Buddha.
This afternoon after work, I go into the store. A little bell on the door announces my arrival. I’ve never been in here before yet it seems familiar to me. Wood carvings of the Yin and the Yang. Posters of dragons. Of dogs. Chinese cookbooks. Japanese cookbooks. The lime green Buddha.
“Can I help you?” I turn and see a very pretty girl. She’s Asian. She has long black hair, fleck-less brown skin, small lips, a button nose. She’s very petite. Her name is Lilly, according to her name badge.
“Huh?” I stammer.
“Can I help you? With something. Are you looking for something?” She smiles. She’s beautiful. There is warmth in her smile.
“Huh? Uh, yeah. I wanna buy this Buddha here.”
She grabs it gently from its window display, brushing my hand with her hips as she does. She takes the rotund green figure and walks him to the checkout counter. “Anything else?” She asks.
“No, I don’t think so?”
“No, nothing else,” She rings me up, wraps the Buddha up neatly and picks up the pen from the counter and writes something on my receipt before she shoves it all in the bag and hands it to me. “Have a nice day. See you again!”
I walk out the door, a little bell on the door announcing my departure.
I couldn’t tell you why I bought it. I don’t smoke and I’m not drawn particularly to Buddhism or to Asian art in general, yet, here I am, walking up three flights of stairs to my apartment, holding a plastic bag which contains a lime green Buddha ash tray. I enter my apartment, kick off my black and white Chucks, toss my jacket on the tattered red patent leather love seat and take the Buddha out of the bag. I carefully unwrap it and set it on the center of my glass coffee table. The table is littered with finger print smudges and food stains.
Inside the bag is a receipt for the Buddha. It cost me $20. On the back of the receipt is a phone number for Lilly. She must have put it on there when I wasn’t looking because I didn’t ask for her number.
I know it's her number because beneath the seven digit number is the name 'Lilly'. I'm glad to see her number and I decide to give her a call.
The phone rings four times and then her voice mail comes on. “Uh, hi, Lilly, this is uh, James. You, uh, put your number on my receipt. I’m the guy that bought the little green Buddha from you. At the store you work at. Anyway, I’m calling because I assume you want me too because you gave me your number, so, uh, call me back if you want too,” and I give her my number and hang up.
It’s now six in the evening. I called Lilly about an hour ago and now I’m in the kitchen making dinner. I can't cook in a messy kitchen. The kitchen is the only room in the apartment where nothing is out of order. I’m making wild trout stuffed with corn bread and wrapped in bacon with a side of cheesy Brussels Sprouts. I’ve just decapitated the trout and gutted it and split it open. Now I’m rolling it in dried corn bread batter and also stuffing it with the batter, with white onions, with lemon wedges, with garlic, with chives. I do this to a second trout and I lay them both in a frying pan greased with peanut oil, where I then wrap them with bacon strips on either end, sear them in a pan for a minute on each side and then place into a baking pan, greased with shortening and olive oil and then shove into the oven and bake at a low temperature. I am just starting to prepare to steam the Brussels sprouts when my phone rings.
“Uh, hello,” I say.
“Who is this?” I have the phone resting between my neck and shoulder blade.
“This is Lilly. From the store. You called me.”
“Oh, yes. Yeah, I called you. You wrote your number on my receipt.”
“Ya. You did. You don’t remember?”
“Not really. Sorta.”
“Sorta? Do you do this sort of thing often?
“No. Not really. That was my first time.”
“Okay,” I shrug. “So, why did you want me to call you?’
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
“Do I think you’re pretty?”
“Yes. Do you think I’m pretty.”
“Yeah. I do. I do think you’re pretty. What are you doing?” I throw the sprouts into the steamer and walk over to my apartment window. I live in an 800 square foot studio apartment on the 3rd floor of the Drake, which is an old apartment building with a manual elevator, oak staircase, skinny hallways and low ceilings. It was built in 1908. I often stand at the window and admire the view. I can see the whole city from here. Two of the seven bridges of Portland. The Portland Building. Mt Hood. The Columbia River. I look down and I can see white oak trees. Maples. A traffic jam. A pot dealer. Lilly. Standing outside the Asian store at the bus stop.
“I’m waiting for the bus,” she says.
“Do you like fish?”
“Do I like fish?”
“Yes. Do you like fish? I’m cooking fish for dinner. And Brussels sprouts. Would you like some fish?”
“Are you asking me to have dinner with you? Fish?”
“Yes. My girlfriend is out of town and I’m lonely.”
“I have to go. My bus is coming.”
I look out the window and see that the bus is not coming. “That doesn’t answer my question,” I say.
“Fish isn’t my favorite. Why did you call me if you have a girlfriend?”
“The fish is really fresh. I caught it this morning, actually,” I lie. It was actually purchased yesterday from the fish market across the street from my work. It was probably alive three days ago.
“Where do you live?”
“I live across the street. In the Drake. If you look up you can see me. I’m on the third floor. I'm waving,” I wave and she looks up but I don’t think she sees me. “I thought you said your bus was coming?”
“Not my bus. I was wrong.”
“Do you want some fish?”
“I thought you said you had a girlfriend,” She pauses and I hear her sigh. “Which apartment is yours?”
“I’ll buzz you in.”
Find out what happens between Lily and James...
- Lime Green Buddah Part Two
Part Two of a two part short story about a one night stand
all rights reserved. Copyright Justin W. Price July 2011.