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Three Customers

Tom observed proudly how the hundred-thousandth chicken left the parking lot.  

   "Excuse me, could I have half of that one on the top right?" A croaky voice said.  

   Shaking his head, finishing his internal celebration early, Tom the chicken turner looked down from his place in the white and red trailer. He had bought the trailer and its facilities twenty years ago from an elderly gentleman. It would help him finance his education. 

   "Cedric, how nice of you to drop by. Absolutely you can," Tom said, smiling at the sharply dressed youth in front of him.  

   "Tell your mum hello from me." 

   Tom winked. He took down the juicy, dark brown chicken from the top of his rotary, cut it in half and packed it in the red paper that had become his signature around town.    
   "She told me you are going to Abalworth University now?" 

   "Yes, it is going to be great," Cedric said.  

   He was dressed in a dark suit and black, shiny shoes. Tom looked at his watch. It was Sunday.  

   "Did you come from Church?" He asked while he handed the young man his chicken. 

   Cedric nodded.  

   "Alright then, have a nice Sunday. And don't let the professors get you down over at Abalsworth. Education is not everything, you know. 

   Tom winked again. He himself had spent two years there. The smile that always accompanied his winks cost Tom more work than usual.  

   The fifth customer of the day arrived only ten minutes later. Tom rubbed his hands with satisfaction. Today was going to be a good day. And why should it not? After all, he had spent twenty years working on his reputation as the best roasted chicken trailer in town.  

   "Tom? You here? That is awesome! I have not seen you for what? Five years? Still rolling with the old chicken trailer I see?" 

   Tom had to put on his glasses before he recognised his best friend from primary school. After the childhood they had spent almost entirely in each other's company, Dan had left the town to study abroad. Tom's mother had told him that Dan was doing something with finances now. Judging by the expensive-looking wristwatch he wore, Dan was doing well.  

   "Yea, you know me, I would never cheat on our home town," Tom said with another wink.  

   "How are you doing?"  

   They spent the next five minutes talking about their lives. More about Dan's, really. He was married, had two children and worked with banks. Tom told Dan about his hundred-thousandth chicken.  

   "Could you give me one of those?" Dan pointed at the smaller chickens to the left.
   They were younger and their meat was much more delicate than normal chicken. It was a great choice, Tom thought. He could have told Dan much about the preparation process of these kinds of delicacies. However, he said nothing, packed the treat in his signature red paper and watched his old friend enter the blue luxury car he had arrived in.  

   At ten o'clock at night, Tom started preparing his trailer for close down. He took down the last two unsold chickens from the roast and slammed them on the wooden cutting board. Several pieces of bone, meat and skin hit his face.  

   "Take care not to squash the birds. I was hoping you still had one for your mother and me."  

   Tom's father stood in front of his trailer, looking at his son with concern. 

   "I am sorry, it has been a rough day," Tom said.  

   "Did you make it today?" His father said. 


   "Your hundred-thousandth bird. You told us last week that it should be today. Your mother wouldn't rest until I came down and asked you." 

   "Oh, that." 

   "Yes, you know how she is. She has told everyone in our building that today would be the day. So, was it?" 

   "Yes," Tom said. 

   The smile that spread across his father's face, illuminating the elderly eyes behind the clunky glasses, almost brought tears to Tom's eyes.  

   "You did it, Son. We are so proud of you. Who bought it? Was it someone we know?" 

   Tom looked down at the two birds he had almost crushed.  

   "Tell you what, Dad, why don't I close up here and then bring these two birds over to you and Mom? Then I can tell you all about it. I feel like celebrating tonight." 

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