Fan Death

This is a short piece I did for my writing group. Here was the promt:

An elderly man, frail but mentally sharp, who seems to be in unfamiliar territory, is sitting at a bar near a young loudmouth who is bragging about how he is not afraid of something that has the neighborhood scared. The bartender is a good-natured and middle-aged woman who would rather the loudmouth didn’t start anything.

And this is what I wrote:

A young man sat on the bar stool next to Daniel and announced, “Koreans are idiots.”

In any social situation, this would be an awkward phrase, but in a bar at the edge of a bustling Koreatown, the statement nearly constituted a call to action. Daniel glanced around to see if anyone had heard, but other than the bartender, there were only a couple disinterested old men, about his own age, playing mahjong in the corner.

The middle-aged Korean woman working behind the bar gave them both a nasty look.

Trying to indicate to the woman that he did not know the man making the offensive statement, Daniel went back to his crossword.

“They’re afraid of fans,” said the young man. “They believe that if you fall asleep with a fan running in your room, you’ll suffocate before morning. Fan Death, they call it.” He turned to Daniel, “Have you ever known of a person killed by a fan?”

“I suppose anything’s possible,” Daniel said, trying to be judicious.

The bartender slapped the bar and let go a torrent of her native language with enough force to push Daniel back an inch on his bar stool. She slapped the bar again for emphasis.

“Well,” said, the young man, “nice talking to you, but mom says I have to get back to work.”

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