Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing a Story of Taste

February 23, 2021
mandyevebarnett


Although the six week writing course has ended, I still have a couple of stories to share. Using one sense, primarily, we had to write a short story using three images. This story is taste! I hope you enjoy it.

Vomit and Chewing Tobacco   – TASTE

It’s a normal Sunday afternoon for me, sitting in the far corner of the launderette, people watching. Harried women with pesky children, older men or couples, and the singles file in and out, filling and emptying the machines in a robotic manner. Eyes are avoided, conversations whispered, distance kept. They are in close proximity within this humid box but worlds apart. Everyone is watchful of a cycle ending and a chance to grab a dryer. Children given candy to keep quiet but the treats, explode their sugary high, amplifying the agitation and boredom. Bundles of multi-coloured fabric stained, torn and discoloured enter the cylinders accompanied by the granular soap powder or brightly coloured tabs. The dispersed powder hovers in the air, you inhale its bitterness. A child takes a tab and pops it in his mouth, mistaking it for a candy. A mother distracted, until he presents a foaming mouth and the pallor of sickness. A spew of vomit gushes forth, its soapy, sugary and bile contents assaulting the child’s taste buds and the nostrils of everyone in the enclosed space.

An urgent plea for water to wash his mouth out, a dirty t-shirt used to mop up the child’s spilled stomach contents. Taste receptors react to the inhaled odour forcing some to exit the launderette before retching themselves. I place a handkerchief across my mouth, scented with lavender. A trick my grandmother taught me as we walked the old canal path many years ago. The putrid rotting debris small permeated the air and stuck in the back of your throat. I turn slightly to one side to check the VCR is still recording. The little red lights flashes on and off. This event will make a great scene in my next book.

I look up to see a Stetson wearing middle aged man enter, he looks around the crowded room with dismay. He is carrying a large black bin liner in one hand and a cell phone in the other. His black and white shoes are stylish and slick. His mouth is in constant motion, chewing on something. Is it gum? He doesn’t seem the type. He walks to the garbage bin and spits a brown substance. Is that chewing tobacco? I didn’t think people did that anymore. This is too good a chance for research; I have to talk to him. Turning the VCR slightly, I amble towards him, fashioning a half smile.

                “May I help you, Sir?”

                He looks at my grey tinged coat, which used to be white and the name tag.

                “I haven’t done this before, how does this work?”

                “I’m happy to help, follow me.”

                I take him to the farthest end of the launderette and open a machine, instructing him to put his clothes in the cylinder. Then continue to show him the process. I can smell the tobacco on his breath, his clothes, and his hair. It invades my senses, hanging at the back of my throat. It is a combination of nicotine and surprisingly mint. He smacks his lips and a brown glob rests on his lip. I stare, he smiles.

“Care for some?”

“No, thank you but can you tell me how chewing tobacco tastes?”

“Well, firstly, I’m using dipping tobacco, most people don’t know that. As for this one I’m chewing, it has mint in it but others have fruit flavours and the like. It has a taste of its own, sort of a mixture of what a cigarette smells like, and some have a chemical after taste and others a natural one but with a burning sensation where you place it. It makes a tobacco juice inside your mouth.”

“Well, that is interesting. Thank you for explaining it to me.”

“Thank you for helping me with this. Not something I ever do but my assistant went down with the flu so here I am.”

“You have an assistant?”

He leans down to lower his voice.

“Sure, I’m on tour and living on the road means usual stuff like laundry has to be done at places like this. Sally, bless her, normally takes care of everything for me.”

“May I ask what you do on tour?”

“Sure, I’m a country singer, not a real famous one but I make do. We’re just passing through to the city for a show. I can give you a ticket if you want in exchange for your help.”

“That’s very kind, I would like that.”

I hold out my hand to shake his and he places two tickets in my palm.

“Oh, I won’t need two, one is enough.”

“No sweetheart to bring with you, eh?”

“No, it will only be me.”

“Okay then. See you tomorrow night. Use this slip for a VIP pass.”

At home that evening, I review the tape. It captured the child vomiting and the country singer’s entrance and spitting. Both events will make for great additions in my current novel.

In other news I have gained a freelance client and will be ghost writing a business book for them. It is always exciting to start a new project.

Let me know what you think of the story and also what book(s) you are reading. Remember to always leave a review.

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