The story so far, unedited because I wanted to get content on here and then edit after. Get some feedback. It’s also unfinished so if you don’t like spoilers don’t read, but if you, like me, friggin’ love a bit of literature then scroll on down! (Main pic is closest thing I could get to what the cafe looks like in the story)
She was taking her god damn time. Tight skirt, hair in a bun, humming to herself with a pen behind her ear. Like butter wouldn’t melt on the hot crumpets he was so hungrily waiting for.
The diner was quaint, slightly grubby and rough on the edges and with a distinctive 1950’s feel. Square tiled flooring, high stools with red cushions and a music box out toward the front, where a dime could play you a memory you thought you’d forgot.
Jazz, blues. He liked that kind of thing. Something even older was whining from the old girl, something by Bing Crosby. He didn’t mind. It was relaxing.
The waitress behind the counter took her sweet god damn time but he didn’t mind. Today, this afternoon at a little gone 2 o’clock as clearly read on the clock above his head, there was nothing to do and no where to go.
Connor was home free. Like the bird, after the fact.
The day was clear. Bright blue skies and golden rays of sun shone through the windows, shredded into dancing slits through the horizontal blinds. A light breeze blew in from somewhere, caressing the blinds and sending the beams of light dancing across the red and white tiles.
Connor leant his chin on the heel of his hand, elbow slumped on the counter top, watching in a daze. The faint whiff of bacon and eggs unfurled almost teasingly within his nostrils, tickling his senses and turning he was met with a beautiful young woman, with a smile full of pearly whites.
“Here ya’ are cowboy. Can I getcha anymore motor oil?” She slid across toward Connor a plate laden with his greasiest favourites. His stomach gurgled and he smiled back at her.
He noticed her chew on her gum, watching him serenely as if nothing was happening between those ears of hers and then she frowned. Furrowed her thin little eyebrows at the silence, his lack of response. It was unnerving to have some bearded guy stare at you after you asked him a question. Especially one with an eye-patch. She dismissed any pirate jokes on the spot.
“Y’know… coffee?” She offered, placing her tiny hands at her waist, just above the apron, her well groomed fingers tapping against the hip bones. She was a slender beauty that was for sure.
His deep, rumbling voice crept slowly from between his bushy bearded lips and his eyes squinted against his smile. “Why not.”
Nothing to lose. Connor was home free. A glorious sunny day had to be appreciated. Had to be toasted to and so a cup of Joe seemed appropriate. He would eat his eggs and pancakes, wash it down with the coffee and maybe have one of those delicious blueberry muffins he saw under the glass dome, on a dish at the end of the counter.
Connor picked up his knife and fork, deciding to pause to admire the plain, stainless steel craftsmanship. Nothing pretty, just thought he would look. Who really admires cutlery anyway? For some reason, Connor felt that everything deserved his attention. Every little thing and every little detail. From the waitresses hair, to the clock on the wall and the fly on his boot.
The fork held down the sausage, took it hostage and the knife slid down against the fork, slicing through, clean and crisp. The crispy pork skin crunched beneath the cut and the meat steamed as Connor rose it slowly to his lips.
Before he could pop it into his mouth, the waitress was back with the coffee and was smiling broadly just as before. Her thin red lips peeled wide, her hazel eyes glinting against the light dancing between the blinds. Each glint, sparking and ricocheting off the metal legs and poles of chairs and stools.
The diner was blinding light.
“How’s the breakfast hun?”
Connor smiled, his dark eyes squinting again beneath thick brows and a navy ball cap. He waited a moment, just in case she chose to speak, then popped the sliced sausage into his mouth and chewed. The waitress waited.
He felt the mushy pork slide down his gullet, followed by a gush of hot black water from his mug and smacked his lips. The waitress, who watched with wide eyes and a heart full of hope, leant in slightly so as to catch his critique.
“Hmm,” he said finally. “Real good.”
She beamed at him, spun a 180 and almost skipped back to the kitchen. Her movements stopped just as quickly and the waitress span back to face Connor, peeling something off her uniform and sticking it on the counter, just above his plate.
Connor was chewing on some egg as he peered down at the sticker. A name tag, it said Gloria. Her name was Gloria. Connor looked up from the sticker, swallowed his egg and smiled.
“Nice to meet you Gloria.”
“My name is Gloria,” she announced as if she hadn’t heard him, still grinning oddly as if she was high on cocaine or something.
“Yeah..” Connor laughed and went back to his food. That fucking bitch was craaaaaaazy.
She did her weird little spin again and pranced off to the kitchen to clean up.
Connor managed to get some alone time with his food, so he devoured it and finished his coffee. He put the china down onto the counter top gently, slumped on his raised stool, the tips of his boots touching the tiles and he listened to what sounded like a bird.
Not a tweeting. Not a whistling or chirping sound. It wasn’t a song, like the music on the machine that had just cut out. It was a cry. A war cry and a scream. A wail of death, of hunger and of festering flesh in the hot arid sun. The buzzards screech came louder after Bing Crosby sang his final line, and suddenly Connor didn’t like it at all. Not one bit.
Turning on his stool, he stood up. Full intention to put some music back on to drown the harking sounds away, to put him back at peace. Enjoy the sunshine. Maybe even watch Gloria for a moment or two. Glorious Gloria. She had a nice ass, he thought.
The man, Connor, was a full height, maybe something over 6. Maybe a bit under. His long thin legs in light blue jeans gave that illusion and atop he wore a plain brown shirt, rolled cuffs to the elbows. Nothing was matching, but Connor was not a man of trend. He was a man of function. The clothes fitted him fine and served their purpose and that was where the story ended. With a receipt in the trash can and not a glance in the mirror.
Connor was half way across the diner, already fishing for a coin in his jeans pocket when a shadow filled his eye on the far left corner. Turning to the darkness, he saw a figure, silhouetted against the sun in the door way just before the bell chimed and the man, old, crossed the threshold.
The light remained behind and his features and appearance became clear to Connor. He had noticed the old man, but the old man hadn’t noticed Connor. Instead, he was smiling across toward the waitress, Gloria, and already spreading his arms wide as if to hug her from across the way.
“Eh, Gloria, ‘ow’s my girl!?”
The waitress beamed that smile of hers, each veneer glinting the sunlight back toward the old man. “Ey Marko! Can I getcha the usual?”
“You bet. How’s the kid?”
The two had completely blanked him and Connor stood rooted at the spot, in the middle of the Diner, curiously watching the exchange between the two.
Gloria swatted a hand through the air as if to kill a passing fly. Instead, she opened the side of her mouth, made a ‘eh’ sound and slacked hard on the gum to create a clicking sound.
“Ehhh, kids are kids. Got me Mom lookin’ after ’em. Ow else can I buy them toys and put them through school?”
The old man slid his fat arse onto a red stool and sighed as if the movement was a great effort and the day had been long and hard.
It wasn’t even noon, Connor mused.
“Good girl, ya a girl Mom to them kids Gloria. I keep tellin’ ya, screw what these saps are sayin’ and hootin’ their mouths off all day. You are a good Mom to them.”
She passed him his cup of coffee which he ignored and laced his fingers together, smiling at her in the way a Father might do. Or maybe a pervert, who was he to tell? Gloria liked the kind attention from the sweet old man, and as Connor finally unstuck himself from the floor and headed to the music box, his dime paused over the slot, so that he may hear more of the conversation first.
Gloria sniffed, Connor turned. She was crying, a single tear streaking black mascara down the left side. Like ink. “Oh Marko. Wa-da-ma gonna do?”
They stared at each other and Marko leaned in and put a hand on hers. “It’ll be ok.”
Feeling awkward now, sensing their stares might fall to linger on the back of his head, Connor rose his index finger up and let the dime slide home, tinkle through the machines mechanisms and clicked a button at random.
The Who – Who Are You?
Gloria and Marko turned to stare at the music machine. Then they turned to stare at Connor. Gloria smiled meekily, wiping the tear from her cheek and sniffed, moving back to the kitchen to busy herself again.
Marko kept on staring, until finally his wrinkled face wrinkled even further, creating a sort of smile which looked half assed and slightly out of place. Maybe he was shy? Maybe Marko didn’t like other guys?
Connor made his way back to the counter but did not take his stool. Instead, he sat back down on the red leather cushion, looked up at the clock, out at the sky and then over to the old man named Marko just 2 stools to his right.
“Howdy there,” Connor chuckled.
“Nice choice son.”
“What brings you to Gloria’s Diner?”
Connor sipped at a second cup of coffee that had appeared before him. Both men paused briefly to smile at her before returning each others exchange. “Not much..”
“Really now?” The old man chuckled, even wheezed a little and he too took a swig of his motor oil. Allowed it to course through his body and grease up the old cogs and bolts. “Not on some quest to kill the dragon and save the princess? Lost? Amnesia? Running from the law? You a criminal boy?!” he laughed again.
Connor joined him, shaking his head a little, removing his cap to rub his hair and ease the pressure from the scalp. Placing it back on, adjusting it for comfort he looked back at Marko.
“No. No. Nothing like that. Just passing through. I’m home free.”
“I’ just joshin’ with ya. Home free?”
“Home free,” Connor repeated, holding the mug before his lips, looking through the steam at Gloria as she busied herself.
1st EDIT: The look between the two men held for an uncomfortably long period of time. Connor was oddly still and with a look of misplaced serenity on his face. Marko’s brow furrowed with each second and he laced his fat fingers together like a set of bars.
“Where did ya say ya were from again?”
“I didn’t, Columbo. Your lace is undone.”
Connor turned away, gazing now very intently into the tiles of the wall opposite before it became the empty space merging the kitchen with the front counter. It meant Connor and Marko could peer through the aluminium shelving and watch Gloria fuss over small bits and things between getting them refills. Marko shrugged off the strange response from Connor and looked down, spotting the laces dangling pathetically over his left boot.
Wheezing, the Texan Mr diabetes of 2014 hunched over his protruding cut, split in half by a thick black belt, and sweated all over the floor trying to re-tie his laces. Connor turned to look over his cup of coffee and smiled a thin, amusing line. One that portrayed sickening revulsion and amusement for this pathetic fucking creature. This globular of lipids on legs, with barely a hair of hair. You see, Connor was in shape, with all his follicles nicely nourished. Strong, powerful, and intelligent. Gloria found him attractive.
He knew she found him attractive. Not this pig shit fucking lump of scum.
“Connor? Connor?” The dull echo bounced inside his head, a large an empty room with tall white walls filled with perfectly shaped picture frames. Each neatly in line. The voice echoed again. “Connor? Connor?”
He snapped to, the echo forming itself into a crisp and light voice from between Gloria’s plush red lips. Connor stared a little before shaking his head. One of the picture frames in that tall white room swung suddenly, held diagonally by a single hook. Out of place. Out of place.
Marko let out a thunderous staccato belt which cut right through Connor and shocked even Gloria. He slapped a hairy hand onto the counter and reeled. “Fuck, ain’t you a sight. What was the occasion, you look hung over as shit.”
The Who had finished on the jukebox and silence fell. Connor rubbed at his head and smiled at Gloria. “Yes. I think I’ll have another. Just the one more before I leave.”
“Where you headed?” She smiled, Marko fumbling with something in his pockets and not paying any attention.
“Er, just out, you know. A road trip. Yeah. A road trip. How about that. I mean why not right? I’m home free?”
“Sure!” She beamed dumbly, not a single fucking synapse in her head firing off.
The sun was dipping more now, the glare hitting Connor’s left eye. Wincing he turned in his stool and decided he would put on another track to fill the void. Marko watched him stand, his non-fashion-conscious clothing fitting him very well. A coin tinkered into the machine and something by Aerosmith came on, giving Marko another grin.
“Fine taste son, that’s two in a row.” He called across the diner, his voice echoing slightly off the bright metal framed chairs and windows. His articulated tone was unnatural and fell on Connor uncomfortably. This fat arse hole was mocking him.
When he moved across the diner again, almost in slow motion it dawned on him that’s exactly what he was doing. Came in without invitation, breaking his peace. Stole his conversation, rudely interrupting and now sat there in his junk, gut squeezing against the band, grinning dumbly at him. All a ruse.
His eyes squinted and focused on that grin of his, the crooked yet white teeth. The teeth swam suddenly and blurred, the lines filling with the edges of the other teeth. Soon his entire mouth was filled by bone, pearly white and hard. Grotesque and monstrous it spilled out and consumed his face, the cafe and soon everything around him. The tall white walls re-appeared and so did the pictures.
Connor reached out at one of them, his finger tips brushing the wooden frame of the nearest and felt it wobble. Nervous he stood back and watched it grow still. Annoyance flared within him like a spicy venom, twitching his joints, a spasm in his muscles and he curled his bottom lip. As he did so, another frame twitched and swung on its hook.
“What’s up? You ok?” the fat Mexican called. “You staring into space son? Fuck, Gloria, I think we got another crack head here or something. Look at him!”
Connor was stood rigid in the middle of the diner, eyes rolled up partially, staring at Marko’s mouth, his own opened slightly to let the air suck in slowly. The walls vanished, the blinked and shook his head.
“Sorry, sorry I er…” he looked at Marko and then at Gloria. The sweet and beautiful woman who had enjoyed his company, savoured his charm and looks but whose face was now plastered with confusion and a little fear.
Fear… he remembered that look.
A thin and lizard like smile slithered across his lips and he bowed his head, opening his arms as if in celebration. “Sorry again, I was just reminiscing about something sad. The song triggered it and I er… lost myself.”
e’d done it, bought them faith. Marko looked convinced as did Gloria and after a little stare of curiosity from the chubby Latino, Connor sat back down at the stool and continued grinning into his empty coffee cup. There was a silence that settled then. Yet another. Not the kind Connor had yearned for before but the itching, chaffing kind that was driving him mad. Driving him fucking insane. Choke on your fucking bile and blood Marko you cunt!
“Why are you smiling?” Marko asked.
Connor couldn’t contain his frustration and anger then. “What?”
Marko raised an eyebrow, mimicking Connor and slapped his hand on the counter and opened it in protest and reason. the body language of a politician. Politicians were full of shit and sought to create ploys for their agenda, Connor knew. This bastard was doing just that. “You said the song reminded you of something sad. Just confused why you’d be smilin’ is all son… Bit odd.”
“Not odd.” he said.
“It sure is… never mind,” he added noticing the very strange expression spreading over Connor’s rugged features.
Gloria went to fill Connor’s cup then and saw his face too when he looked up at her. She paused and pretended to be doing something else. The movement was awkward, she half stumbled and walked over to Marko instead, filling his cup with the black ooze.
His anger flared then. Another picture frame tilted on its hook. The walls shrunk in on him and a half dozen more swung uneven against the whiteness.
“Want to know what I found funny? It’s the irony, you see. The irony of all of this.”
When Connor didn’t continue Marko hovered his lips above the lip of his cup and frowned. “What irony?” He slurped loudly. How fucking typical. His thick pink worms pressing down on the china seemed to squelch.
“This. Us. You and me. I’m home free but it’s almost like full circle isn’t it.”
As if on cue, the distant sound of police sirens screamed and Connor’s jolting movement signalled to Gloria and Marko that there was something not to be trusted about this man. A run-away? Convict? Instead the smile grew wider and the picture frames began to move and rattle on the walls. The white of his teeth consuming his face, the walls squeezing closer.
“Er… I’m not following?” The song on the jukebox began its final repeat of the chorus toward the end and Connor stood to approach the man. “What are you doing?”
“Why did you come here Marko? You broke my silence. I was home free. I was home free.”
“I don’t… hey what are you doing?!” He stumbled from his stool as Connor gripped the man by the collar of his jacket and Gloria screamed. She reached for the phone and her trembling hands dropped it. He turned to her, wrestling Marko in his vice like grip. The smile pasted permanently on his features now, frozen like stone.
“Don’t worry Gloria, they’re coming for us now. Listen…” The sirens grew louder, their whirring bouncing across the long road that split the surrounding tundra like grey ribbon. He turned back to Marko and laughed, spittle flying and landing on his face. Connor was much taller and stronger. “Marko, why did you come here?!”
“I don’t get…. I… ouch!” he cried as Connor tightened his grip.
“Coffee! I came for coffee!!”
He was deafened then by an impossible quietness and Connor was within the white walls, watching in slow motion as a picture at the very highest point, the ceiling beyond view, came spinning down, crashing to the floor in a burst of wooden splinter and glass. He felt himself sucked back, a tight pull from somewhere behind his navel and he was in the diner, looking down at the bloody face of Marko, the man crying. Confused, he realised he was on the floor of the Diner, the song had finished and some of the stools had been knocked over. Blood stained Connor’s knuckles and Marko was whimpering.
“Why did you come here Marko. NO FUCKING LIES!”
His answer was unintelligible due to his grip, so Connor loosened it for him to speak and confess.
“G-Gloria… Gloria… I c-c-came to see… Gloria,” a cocktail of blood and phlegm oozed from his mouth down onto his fat chin so Connor punched him. Reached down, grabbed his left hand and raised it so that it hung between both their faces. “I don’t under-” he began to wheeze but Connor suddenly roared with a deafening volume that caused Gloria to scream from her hiding place.
“LOOK AGAIN MARKO! LOOK AT YOUR FINGER!!! WHAT DO YOU SEE?!”
Marko suddenly knew and it all made sense now. He began to cry there, to sob on the floor in his own scarlet and white karma, a fool on the floor straddled by a psychopath. The sirens were almost upon them and Connor knew he would not have long. He leant in and pressed his wet lips against Marko’s ear and whispered gently, stroking his sweaty hair and he pushed him hard against the floor. “You’re a married man Marko. You’ve been coming here to see Gloria for quite some time now haven’t you?”
“N-no… just…” Another picture frame fell and the look in Connor’s eyes scared the man into truth. “Yes… yes.. a while. I’m s-s-sorry! How… how do you know… I don’t know you I mean? Who are you? W-w-who are y-“
Connor paused then, his fist raised in mid air, ready to strike this fat piece of fucking pond scum. A traitor, a cheat and a fucking waste of blood and organs. The sirens were upon him and cop cars in their dozens flew around the diner in a wide circle, tires screeching as they braked hard, cops and SWAT piling out of their vans and squad cars, taking positions behind opened doors and the trunks, weapons raised.
This was it.
Connor stood then, smiling and slide a knife from his sleeve, pulling Marko to his feet and raising the blade to his white, wobbling throat of fat. A hostage. He ignored the cries and pleads of negotiations from the loud speaker, his eyes squinting from the flashing glare of red and blue as the lights bounced around the diner, reflecting sharply off the aluminium and glass.
“P-p-please… Please…” he sobbed as Connor dragged the fat cunt behind the counter, passed a shaking Gloria who he commanded to follow him least he spill Marko’s life before her, and backed further into the kitchen until they were out of sight.
Sergeant Johnson swore into his loud speaker and looked at his officers and the SWAT. He signalled and a dozen of them approached the diner slowly. Johnson first in line, his shaking, sweaty hand clasping the handle of the cafe door and pushing it slowly, easy, until they could creep in. Breaths held, their booted feet breaking light and quietly against the tiled floor. “Don’t screw up now Johnson, don’t you do it.” he whispered to himself, the beaded sweat on his brow finally dripping into his eyes. He blinked against the salty liquid and pressed on, confident, trained and relentless. A trained protector.
Connor had backed into a storage cupboard, large for the three of them but when he dropped Marko to the floor and turned around to face Gloria, knife held in his right hand, he found that he was back in the white room. Gloria was gone. Marko too when he turned and the knife was no where to be seen. Glancing down at his hand he watched in confusion as a red stain began to appear in his palm, spreading like a blotch. An ink stain consuming the cotton of a shirt. The fibre of his flesh.
He looked up then and gasped, the paintings all around him falling. Crashing about him, spraying sharp debris in all directions, something ricocheting and cutting him. Connor flinched and cried against the carnage and put his arms over his head to shield himself. They seemed to fall for a while, every single one until the chaotic sound of smashing frames ended with a tinkle of stray glass and Connor looked around him, the floor covered in ruin. The white walls bare.
Spinning on the spot, surveying the destruction he moaned and heard the noise echo odd against the walls and then he saw it on the far side. A hole. A hole in the wall! He ran to it, tripping on the pieces and fell against the white render, cold beneath his palms and finger tips. Blood smudged it then, smearing pink as he clambered to put his eye to the gap.
And he was suddenly a child, screaming.
Connor watched in horror as the young man battered and mother mercilessly, turning when she was a bloody pulp and exacting the same project on his dad and then his sisters. The sight caused Connor to gag and retch, the sound of caving skulls and cracking bones too much for him but he couldn’t stop but watch and stare.
When the killing was over and tears ran like red rivers down his cheeks, Connor gazed in terror as the killer stood and turned to him and smiled that smile. Like looking in the mirror, and Connor screamed as he watched himself wave within the bloody room and walked out from the door, kicking aside their ruined corpses.
“No!” he screamed. “Nooooooooooooo!!!!!”
Sergeant gave the signal to the SWAT and they kicked the cupboard door when they heard the scream and Johnson jumped into the doorwar, gun raised and froze. Rooted to the spot. His gun drooped from its aim and he fell to his knees, the officers behind him coughing, some throwing up and others swearing blindly.
“Oh my god,” Johnson spoke. “What have you done….?”
© Jason R. Vowles 2014