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Sal’s Diner


Sal, convinced that everyone was out to get him, sat at the counter and ordered a cup of coffee from the waitress who was shaped like an orange with another orange on top of it wearing a blue apron.  He noticed that her skin was covered in decades of black heads caused by the flaring grease fire roaring behind her since the 60s.  She brought him the coffee and it was too hot; he knew she was trying to burn his mouth with the scalding hot liquid.  He asked her for those little pre-packaged cones of half-and-half with their tips flattened.  She pointed toward the little metal pitcher of cream, but he demanded the flattened little cones.  She rolled her eyes and took her time bringing them over.  She asked him if he was going to order anything, but he wasn’t sure yet so she would just have to come back in a little while.  He just wanted to drink his coffee and be left alone.  

At a booth, Michelle picked at the end of her scrambled eggs and wondered if the zombies came if they’d be the fast, strong zombies or the old, slow, weak zombies.  The difference affected her whole plan for dealing with them.  If they were the predictable, slow zombies, then, hopefully, she would have an easier time dealing with them.  You could basically run past the slow zombies, you just had to be careful that you didn’t run into a big group of them.  And, really, as long as you had a gun and plenty of ammo, you would be ok.  The fast zombies, on the other hand, were an entirely different story.  She knew that if the fast zombies came that she’d have to be able to run, something she’d always hated when she was in elementary school.  With the fast zombies, it was all about holing up in some fort type place with lots of supplies and tons of ammo with fiercely restricted access until the zombies decayed into whatever zombies decay into.  Zombie puddles.  The fast zombies may be strong and agile, but they were still dumb, and she knew it.  She spread some raspberry jam on her toast and took a bite and wondered if, when she became a zombie, if she’d be a fast zombie or a slow fat zombie.  The thought of being slow and fat even in death was so depressing she poured extra syrup on her sausages and ate them, but didn’t feel any better.

Sal sipped at his coffee and looked around the diner to make sure no one was looking at him.  Next to him was some old redneck looking guy with a beard.  At the end of the counter were two teenaged boys who looked like that hadn’t slept in days.  In the far booth there was a group of old ladies eating and talking about whatever the fuck it is groups of old ladies talk about, bridge or doilies or knitting or grandchildren or something.  Sal didn’t really want to know what they were talking about.  It wasn’t going to be something exciting.  In another booth there was a fat girl eating sausages.  She was alone and Sal wasn’t surprised, that fucking lard ass.  

Betsy, Helen, and Sheila had just killed their husbands and, after breakfast, were going to drive to Mexico.  Betsy was complaining about her french toast being mushy, but Sheila told her that she’d be complaining if it wasn’t mushy.  Helen waved at the orange-bodied waitress and asked her for some more ketchup and the waitress brought a new bottle and Helen thanked her and put more ketchup on her eggs.  Normally she didn’t like putting ketchup on her eggs, but today it just seemed right what with Marcus dead and chopped into bits in her trunk and all.  The girls had decided to take Helen’s car since it had plenty of room in the back for whoever had to sit back there and plenty of room in the trunk for the corpses of their husbands.  Betsy rubbed one of her sausages in the pool of pancake syrup on her plate.  

Albert loved the feel of the silken panties he wore against his testicles and thighs.  His pancakes were nearly gone; he really liked it when you could get chocolate chips and bananas in pancakes.  His mother used to make pancakes like that for him when he was a child, but he’d never been able to reproduce them in his adult life.  While in the army, he had worked in the kitchens, but that was mostly bulk cooking, if you could call it that.  There was never much room for experimentation or little bits of excess like putting bananas and chocolate chips in pancakes at the same time.  Some people thought that the combo was too much—some said overwhelming—but he thought it was just right.  He also liked to wear women’s panties while he worked.  It made him feel powerful to have such a sleazy secret when people came to his shop to get their cars fixed.  He couldn’t wear normal panties since he was such a large man, but old lady panties fit him just fine and were easy to get and cheap.  He wondered what kind of panties the old ladies at the other table were wearing and if they were as delightfully naughty as his.

Tony and Teddy sat in silence and ate their breakfasts dispassionately.  They could barely bear to look at each other and neither had much appetite.  Tony sat shuffling around the hashbrowns on his plate with his fork.  Teddy sipped on his iced tea.  Tony reached over for the salt and accidentally touched Teddy’s hand and made eye contact with him.  They both looked away quickly trying to act like their eyes had never met.  Like the sweet, soft touch of the other’s skin was alien, forbidden.  But they both knew that they were lying to themselves; they’d never be able to forget what had happened last night.  They’d never be able to forget the heat.

Michelle looked at the two high school boys and thought about how she’d like to take them home and teach them what it meant to be with a real woman and not those finicky, young trollops she had no doubt they’d been out with the night before.  She imagined that she would just walk over there and introduce herself and tell them that she did something romantic for a living—like a nurse or a model or a hair dresser—and they would both be smitten with her and she would tell them that there was plenty of her to go around and she would take them to her her car and then to her home which was a beautiful beach front mansion and she would seduce these two innocent looking boys and shower them with gifts and money and cars and they would love her.  She would talk about her indiscretion at brunch with her friends and they would laugh and tell her to be careful but not really mean it.  One of the boys, the taller one with the curly hair, caught her staring at him, gave her a puzzled look and turned away.  She knew that he wanted her, secretly, but could never admit it to himself for fear of discovering that he’s not as much of a man as he thinks he is.  

Betsy picked up the tab and told the girls it was her treat.  She stood and walked to the register on the counter by the front door and paid with exact change and then left an extra dollar on the table for a tip.  Sheila ate her last piece of bacon and the three ladies left the restaurant.  She thought about Lawrence and the look in his eyes when he realized who had killed him.  While planning the murders, she thought that might be the part that would haunt her for the rest of her life.  Instead, she relished the look of abject terror on his face when he turned around and saw the face of the person who had shot him through both of his lungs.  The rifle had still been smoking as he vainly tried to grab for it, but his strength had left him and he fell to the floor spitting up blood all over himself and the cheap, cracked linoleum floor he’d refused to fix.  Sheila had felt a wave of resentment when she realized that she’d have to clean up after the bastard one more time, so she drew a little flower in his blood on the floor just to cheer herself up a little.  It worked.

Teddy sucked at the last drops of his iced tea.  He couldn’t bear to look at Tony.  He tried to speak but couldn’t find the words.  

Sal finished his coffee.  He asked the waitress how much it would be and she told him and he told her that it was fucking robbery no one ever paid that much for a cup of coffee but he put his money on the counter anyway and picked up a newspaper someone had left and walked out of the diner.  In the parking lot he saw two of the three old ladies shoving something into the trunk of their car and thought nothing of it.  

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