Meet, Ed. (Excerpt from September Rain).
An excerpt from chapter one of my novel, September Rain.
Forgive spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
World, meet Ed.
He leaves, turning left again and walking passed his front door to the next shop, a cheap and greasy fried chicken place called Tennessee Fried Chicken, in the heart of Islington on a cold rainy night in September. The windows are plastered with poorly made images of the, so called food that they sell within, they’ve been there so long that the colour has faded. They look as if someone just cut out the pictures from a catalogue, glued them to a base and photocopied them, because what you get sure as shit isn’t what you think you’re going to get. This food will kill you.
Carter steps in, “Number four, Ed” he says to no one, he is already fishing out his wallet to get the right change, this is the kind of place you usually see teenagers hanging out, the food is shit but closer than Macky Dee, and it has a fruit machine in the corner.
Ed, not sure if that is in fact his name or not, Carter has always just called the guy Ed because he reminded him of a school friend the day he first walked in here eight years ago. Carter waits, he knows it’ll take a few minutes to pour the greasy mess of crispy, soon to be soggy, fried chicken into a cardboard box, he looks at the message board while he waits, advertisements for a local karate school. English lessons. Royal Polish Cleaners, what ever the fuck that means, ‘does Poland have a royal family?’, he stares at it and tries to think. Carter sees Ed waiting out of the corner of his eye.
He puts the five pound note on the counter, he didn’t have the right change, and takes the new pack of smokes out of his cheap, nearly clear, plastic bag, he removes the wrapping and reads the health message on the box, “Smoking Kills” he says allowed to nobody, “Is that right?” he looks up at Ed, who isn’t smiling, Ed never smiles, but then working here why would you?, “What’s the matter Ed, you didn’t pass your customer service training yet? Crack me a smile” Ed indeed cracks a smile, the kind you pull to shut someone up about it, his teeth are a brilliant white and stand out to this dark skin and his thick black moustache. Carter thinks he’s from Pakistan but can’t be sure, Ed never smiles and has never spoken a word to him. Not a word in eight bloody years.
“Well, if smoking kills, and they write it on the box in the hope that people won’t buy cigarettes, why do they keep selling them?” not really a question to be answered in a shop that sells a different kind of death, “If they kill, stop selling them”. Ed smiles that same eyeless smile at him again, and gives a subtle nod as if in agreement. A box appears and Ed puts it into a white plastic bag and hands it to Carter then takes the fiver note from the counter and opens the till. Carter waits while Ed hands him his twenty-five pence change, he turns and leaves, “Bye Ed, see you tomorrow.”