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Location: marengo, il, United States

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Midnight in Midland

That blond kid has a smart-alecky attitude, so I never did cotton to him one bit. But the customer is always right, my manager keeps saying, so anytime he comes in here and sits down I’ll cook his eggs up however he damn well likes. I don’t care. As long as I don’t have to sit and listen to his stupid damn nonsense, it don‘t matter to me a hardly.

This place is always jumping. Who would think that so damn many people could get so damn hungry at three in the damn morning anyway? But somebody did and they though it was a good idea, that’s for sure, and so they built this place and all, but I really don’t care about that. At least I got me a job and I don’t have to sponge off Joe.

Joe pays the rent, but he won’t buy one damn speck of food. He don’t keep nothing around his place, I swear. Every cabinet in his kitchen is empty. I know ‘cause I went looking through all of them. What a prissy-assed cheapskate he is. I can’t say I blame him though. I’d probably get tired of feeding a bum like me too. What can I say but I flat don’t care.

Anyway, so he comes sashaying in here one Saturday night, this blond kid. I don’t know his damn name and I don’t care to know what it is either, but the joint is packed already, plus I got me over a dozen tickets hanging over my grill and it’s already hot as hell back here where I’m at, when that front door opens up and Mr. Smartass comes waltzing through.

Crap, half these hungry jerk oil-field roughnecks are crazy as bedbugs, if you ask me. Most of them work way out yonder in the boondocks for weeks at a time, and none of them never takes showers from what they look like. And you know the way they go about and carry on in here? Why, you’d think you was working in some low-class cathouse bar overseas. Good Lord have mercy, I talk rank but these goons would embarrass the whole fucking fleet over there. And some of them sitting up in here smelling up a booth with some of the ugliest damn women I ever saw in the entire state of Texas, too.

But me, I’m glad to be standing here at my grill with my back to the whole damn lot of them, so I really don’t give a shit. And if I could get that goofy-ass manager what hardly ever shows up to turn up the juke box so I didn’t have to listen to their garbage mouths, well, damn! I’d be son-of-a-bitching rapturous, if you know what I mean.

Crap, I don’t care. Flip my bacon over and time my waffles to come out like I like them. They don’t like that, then hell, send it back and I’ll damn sure make it crisp for you, honey. If that’s what you want then I’m happy. I don’t really care.

I must be still upset about that crazy puke-stain blond idiot, ’cause I can’t get him out my head Here’s what he did. I seen him because, well like I told you already, this place is crazy on weekends, so every time that door opens up I turn and look over my shoulder to see who comes and goes.

Trust me on this one…some of these clowns look desperate as shit, so you never know if one of them might be getting ready to stick up the joint and rob the damn place like a crazy fool. Not like it’s ever happened before, but you never know. Hell, I don’t care. Let them take the whole damn store. It ain’t my money no ways. Me, I’d grab a knife and sling it at the dude without thinking, most likely. It gets hectic here and I don’t got time for no bullshit.

But that kid strolled in so I seen him right off. You know I kept a close eye on that cocky little bastard too, you can damn well believe that's true. Yes sir.

Now you know what he done next?

Well the door closes shut right behind him, but then he decides to just stands there for a minute like he owns the place, and he don’t move or nothing. He’s just looking. There was some old couple paying their ticket up at the register, and Darlene, she had her cash drawer open trying her damndest to make correct change for this old man and his old lady, and all the while he’s just standing there by the door watching.

Now me, I’m thinking crazy shit like, naw, he ain’t going to do nothing that damn stupid, is he? But still you can’t never tell. The counter next to the register is slap-full with other loud mouths so he ain’t about to sit there, but personally I don’t care where that smart-ass sits as long as he don’t sit in that one booth behind me.

I got me four burgers in the middle of the grill that ain’t ready to flip yet, and I got maybe six over-easy eggs going over to the right, and somebody had ordered scrambled, so I got my spatula ready and waiting, and I’m leaning on the cool edge of the grill the whole time I’m watching that sneaky little buzzard. Then that old slow couple finally leaves, so Darlene turns around and takes off for the back room, most likely to have her a smoke and leave me up here to handle all this shit.

That blond kid, he steps aside to let them two old people get by, acting all polite. Then the door swings shut behind them soon as they go out. The diner, it keeps up a steady buzz when all of a sudden that stupid little blond-headed kid shouts out louder that any damn redneck I ever heard.

“You lousy son of a bitch!”

All the noise stopped right there. That diner got quieter than a graveyard for a second, and then the rest of what happened looked to me like it all took place in slow-motion.

He whips out a pistol and fires off three shots, Bam! Bam! Bam! at some guy sitting there at the counter.

Well, that ain’t exactly right, come to think about it.

For a split second right after he yelled out what he did, but just before he fires his gun, one customer sitting at the counter jumps up and goes flying out the front door, lickety-split. I guess he seen the gun before I did, to be honest.

So now here we are, ever damn one of us in that little diner not moving a muscle, and them three pop-shots is still playing in my ears, but none of us says a word. It was kind of like a dream , the way I remember it, what with him standing there holding that gun and blue smoke floating in the air and the door swinging closed behind his back. I remember next that Darlene stuck her head out through the back-room door, but she stopped right there.

I couldn’t see the guy that got shot but every head in the place were looking in the direction of the floor. Hell, I didn’t know who the dead guy was anyway. Just another roughneck, I figured. But I tell you what…after a few seconds of all that crap and then the quiet spell, that fucking idiot laying on the floor stands up and laughs, and then when that blond mother starts laughing his ass off too, like he was the funniest trick since Kennedy got put in the White House… well, the place comes unglued at all that.

Man, some other guy at the counter that wasn’t able to get up in time to run…or hell, maybe he never saw the gun to begin with, eating his damn hash browns -- I don’t know and I really don’t care…well, he decides to stand up then, and let me tell you what. He grabs that little blond fuck by his front shirt collar and picks him clean up off the floor, and then he says as loud as the kid had yelled in the first place just how he felt about the whole incident.

And I ain’t stretching the truth about none of this here crap, either. You don’t believe me, hell I don’t care.

But he hollers right in that kid’s face that it wasn’t a damn bit funny, that joke you pulled, and you know what he says back? That blond kid never said a damn word one, that‘s what. And I think the whole diner agreed with the other guy on that fact, buddy. I know I damn sure did, but crap, I don’t give a damn. I have to go back in tomorrow night and work because that dumb-ass manager switched me with another cook, that dumb fuck that up and quit without even a how-do-you-do, so now I don’t even get my damn day off this week.

Like I care. At least I get to eat.

5 Comments:

Blogger Gone Away said...

Brilliant, Harry. Been trying to keep up with you, posted three times in two days and I'm exhausted. Got nothing left. And you still keep pumping em out, getting better and better. I don't know how you do it. But I know this: I'm not trying to stay with you anymore. I'm sticking to my pace and just gonna wave as you go by. What the heck engine have you got in that damn van anyway?

7:07 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Pfft...this old thang?

7:11 PM  
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