The Quality of Mercy

by Bethany W. Pope


The heat beat from the pavement, sweat smeared my face,
How could I be my best? I carried the four
Enormous orders; five burgers, three large French fries
Gallons of Limeade dripping in their paper jugs. The crab,
Or so they called it, came in cakes. I flew on my
Dank skates, pulling up by the cracked window of
The thirty-year-old Cadillac. He opened the pane. I
Handed in the change I owed, then shrieked my fear
At the man who took it from me. His mummified face,
Terribly like leather from a bog, held still as I
Apologized. I pushed the dollars into his
Necrotic hands and pocketed my tip like a slug.
Seven minutes later I was still scrubbing my hands. No
Wonder I feared disease. I was too worn down to be kind.


Bethany W. Pope

The Quality of Mercy by Bethany W. Pope first appeared in Issue 2 of Bare Fiction Magazine (April 2014).