The King and Five Cans of Beans by Andrew Stancek

June 12, 2016

I don’t see why I had to be the one.

The whole town’s in our store for the Big Sale and I’m stacking cans of beans. I don’t see him until he’s up close, the white suit, the grin and cow lick. He speaks in the Hound Dog voice, with that accent. Just from the air around him, I know. The real thing.

“Can you give me ‘bout five of them cans, Jim? Real good price you got on ‘em,” he grins and I stare, all shook up.

“I know, Jim, I know. I’m in the grave. But in the evenings I miss burgers and fries and at night the girls and a good tune. So I go for a walk now and then, for a sizzle with a hot tamale. When you’re the King, you get perks.” The store rings with that voice, but they’re all deaf, filling carts with canned pineapple and applesauce. “The beans, please, Jim?” he says.

No one will believe for a minute, and I don’t want to be the kook who’ll next see green Martians. I put TV dinners in the freezer, help pack; I’m fine with that. But I saw him, handed him five cans. Leaving the store he drops something, and I think good luck charm, but a kid kicks it and it rolls and is gone. I could look in the garage for my old Gibson and amp but what’s the use? I’ll just go back to the beans.

Andrew Stancek entertains Muses in southwestern Ontario.  His work has appeared in Tin House online, Every Day Fiction, fwriction, Vestal Press, Pure Slush, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Camroc Press Review, among others.  He’s been a winner in the Flash Fiction Chronicles and Gemini Fiction Magazine contests and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.