NPR logo The Red Lion

The Red Lion

For the fourth round of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction that contain each of these words: "plant," "button," "trick," "fly."
Two men at urinals.

I stood in the line to the bathroom. There were two young men in front of me, both exchanging odd sideways glances. Both swayed and held their beers like canes.

The one with a very strong scent asked the one with a poor attempt at a beard, "We know each other, right?"

"I think so," said the beard.

"You knew Mattie, right?"

"Yeah. What's your name?"

"Pat. I had long hair."

"Oh yeah, now I know you. You did have longer hair."

"And you didn't have a beard."

"I'm working on it."

"I wish I could do one, I just can't seem to grow a solid patch."

In all honesty, neither of them looked like they could grow a solid patch. I stood in the line, awkwardly eavesdropping. I didn't want to listen, but I had no choice. At that moment, three men exited the restroom, so myself and the two guys in front of me entered. They went straight for the urinals and continued their conversation. I, however, took the stall.

I stood in front of the toilet, not really having to go, but just looking for a place to get away for a moment.

"So I saw Mattie the other day," said the smelly guy.

"Oh yeah?"

"He still works at —"

Some guy entered the bathroom loudly, and opened the stall door behind me. "Oops, sorry, didn't know it was occupado," he said, backing out of the bathroom. I didn't even look back at him.

"Oh, I got him that job there," said the beard.


"Yeah, but I got fired right after he started. For stealing shit. I was in jail for a while," he said with a chuckle.

One of them flushed. Then the other one flushed.

"I hate how they don't have drink holders next to the urinals in bars," mumbled the cloud of cologne.

"The trick is trying to button your fly with one hand," said the beard, with another drunk giggle.

"See you around," said the guy trying to get the attention of every woman in the bar.

"Yeah. Tell Mattie I said what's up," said the thief with a bad beard.

"Will do."

I finally started to pee. The two guys left the restroom.

As I buttoned with both hands, another man walked in. He farted, and I washed my hands and left.

I walked slowly out of the bathroom and to the bar. I was stalling. I ordered a beer that was darker than coffee. I needed to be filled up with something. I tipped the waitress an extra dollar and walked back to the patio.

She was sitting alone with her gin and ginger ale, smoking her cigarette while texting somebody.

I sat down and it took her a moment to finish her phone business. When she did, she took a sip of her drink and looked straight into my eyes and said, "I've been cheating on you. I'm not sure I love you anymore."

She put out her cigarette in the plant next to our table.

I replied.

She stared.

"I hate how they don't have drink holders next to the urinals in bars."


I didn't know what else to say.