The Daily Prompt & Eric’s Aria -Part 1 (short story)

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Daily Prompt: The Heat is On

Do you thrive under pressure or crumble at the thought of it? Does your best stuff surface as the deadline approaches or do you need to iterate, day after day to achieve something you’re proud of? Tell us how you work best.

There is most likely something that compels us to do anything. We do nothing unless compelled, be it our own compulsion or others. Certainly imposing tasks and goals on ourselves is best, but work will sometimes suffer and languish if it is not meant to please others.

My story for the day is about friends who raise the spirits and expectations of the other. It’s in two parts. I hope you enjoy.

Eric’s Aria (Part 1)

Eric had a peculiar way of lifting Richard’s spirits. It was through his actions more than his words, although, indeed his words had impact also.

Richard owned a local propane distribution business. In the winter he filled propane tanks at homes, farms, and businesses. In the warm months business was slow; it was mostly outside barbeque tanks and campers.

It was near the end of the winter; demand was low. It was a day that started lonely. None of the familiar faces were anywhere to be seen. Sometimes that is best. Richard never liked to pass his loneliness and despondency on to others. Eric was of the same sort. Eric was a farmer. He spent a lot of time alone. So it was quite natural that Richard called Eric.

“Hey, Eric. I’m flying solo this morning and could use a little company. Can you meet me for coffee?”

“How long ya before you break,” Eric said.

“It’s up to you,” Richard said.

“Half hour?” Eric said.

“Sure,” Richard said surprised it wouldn’t take longer.

“The usual place?” Eric said.

“I’ll be there,” Eric said.

The melancholy perhaps had an ending.

They met at a small diner attached to a gas station and small grocery. Two truckers sat at the counter. Richard ordered coffee for the both and the waitress no sooner poured it and Eric limped through the door.

“Gout?” Richard said.

“Beef,” Eric said.

“They say ya got to stay away from red meat,” Richard said.

Eric chuckled. “Nah, one of my cows checked me into the glass. (Eric loved hockey and was always making hockey references.)

“So that’s what the cow did,” Richard said. “How did you retaliate?”

“High stick,” Eric said. “But the damage to me was already done. Looks like I’m going to spend a couple days in the penalty box.”

“You get an x-ray?” Richard said.

“I know a fracture from a sprain,” Eric said. “In a day or two I’ll be lacing up my blades and doing laps on the pond.”

“The pond still frozen?” Richard said.

“No, Richard,” Eric said disappointed. “I’m speaking metaphorically.”

“I’m sorry,” Richard said. “I’m always associating hockey with strong handsome Norwegian bachelor farmers who take all their summer frustrations out on the winter ice.”

“Well,” Eric said. “You hit just about all of them.”

“What’s did I miss?” Richard said.

“Lonely,” Eric said. “That’s why I was glad you called.”

“Yeah, me too,” Richard said.

“Whoa,” Eric said. “I’ve never seen that look from you. What’s wrong.”

“Don’t really know,” Richard said. “Sometimes you over think a problem. There’s really no bogy man, but you convince yourself there is one; it’s dark, late, and alone. There just has to be one. And all the sudden you’re shaking. You ever get that way?”

“Yeah,” Eric said.

“What do you do?” Richard said.

(Continued tomorrow.)

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