A JUKEBOX AT EVERY TABLE… a Drabble for FriFic
A telephone rings on the Northside of Chicago…
“Hi, Cheryl, it’s Ethel.”
“It’s December 21st, I assume you want me to help you with your Christmas decorations again. Why can’t you do them early like everybody else? I’ve still got shopping to do.”
“No, no, I’m done with them. I’ve got a hankering for a chili dog, and there’s a new place in Cicero I want to try.”
“For God’s sake, Ethel, just go to the Devil Dog on the corner. You know how far Cicero is, right?”
“Yes, but this place has a jukebox at every table. And, there’s a WalMart next door.”
“Oh… okay, I’ll go.”
Roger Bultot’s photo reminded me of fun times and good eats in the past and prompted the girls to take a trip. Thanks to Rochelle for prompting me to write a story.
And now Dear Readers, it’s time for another installment of Fiction Relay… The Continuing Saga of Suzi. To see where we last left Suzi and Sam, go to Deliah’s Blog and catch up.
And now, back to the story…
“We need you.”
Their fear permeated the room, and slammed into Ephraim like a freight train full of bad memories. He had not dreamt of this meeting, in fact had not thought of them for some time… until tonight… and sure as hell did not need to ask how they had found him. They had that ability, as did some of the others.
This was not the assured Daniel he remembered, now holding out the photograph with a tremble. And little Suzi, well she wasn’t little anymore.
“Take it, please. They’re coming.”
Ephraim knew the photo was taken at the orphanage Mr. Sanders had founded in Kentucky. One look and the past flooded out of the image. The five pals growing up together. Raised in the restaurant, then split up to work in different areas of the business. Some climbed the corporate ladder, while others like Raj still tended the fryers.
He was correct in his investigation of the crime scene at the diner. It made perfect sense now. Melissa had been in Research and Development at the time. News of the theft had been suppressed those many years ago. They had all suspected, as she would have had access to it, and then she disappeared.
The gristly murder of a little known short order cook had taken a familiar turn when Ephraim found out that Gino had been turning out fantastic tasting, although familiar, fried chicken. A taste of herbs and spices spilled on the counter confirmed it. But, how had a nondescript diner like Maisy’s landed such a talent? The answer hit home like a 100 pound bag of flour when he discovered the identity of the owner. Melissa. She held the secret to Gino’s success with the bird, a secret stolen years ago, and just now surfacing. But where was she? The outline on the floor, was that her? He knew it wasn’t Suzi, for she was standing here before him. With Daniel. Surveillance photos, taken by Corporate, had placed Suzi as a waitress and Daniel, now called Sam, as a much too frequent diner at Maisy’s. Ephraim suspected Sam had been enlisted to track down the stolen secret recipe. So who had it? Melissa, Suzi or Sam? And what of Raj, could he be far behind? These questions raced threw his head as he looked at the photo.
A quiet knock at the door.
In case you would like to start Suzi’s story at the beginning… The Fiction Relay Homepage
Noted romance novelist Dawn is up next…
I was recently invited to take part in a Fiction Relay, by The Reclining Gentleman. I had come across a chapter on my friend Chantel C’s blog, and liking these sorts of things… (One of my favorite books is Naked Came the Manatee. The first chapter was written by Dave Barry and the last by Carl Hiaasen, with eleven mystery writers in between, each inserting their own hero into the story. It was pretty wild. But I digress)… CC had written part 2, so I clicked on part 1 to see how it started. I had seen The Reclining Gentleman’s avatar (silhouette of a reclining gentleman) before, maybe you have too, and even read a few of his posts, first on Madison Woods’ Friday Fictioneers, I think. I complimented him on the relay idea, and his story, which brought about an invite to take part. After the usual “I’m not really a writer” BS, I decided to try it… and accepted. While I patiently waited, Delilah finished part 3. Here is my part of the ongoing story. You might want to first read the 3 chapters before mine, links at the bottom of the page… feel free to join in… I don’t think TRG will mind, drop him a line.
“What the Hell!” Startled from his rumination, the cigarette flew from Gino’s lips, creating an arc of sparks and ash across the stained tile. He ground it out, sending a glare at the new waitress.
Melissa caught Suzi, to save herself, wondering how Sam had rattled her so quickly.
“Who is this guy?” hissed Suzi.
Melissa uncoiled herself with pats and straightens. “Oh Hon, you’ll get to know him soon enough.”
“But, he knows me, he knows all about me. What does he want?” With hardening face, Melissa told her to fill another cup and finish her tables.
The booth by the window was empty.
After wiping the tables and refilling her station, Suzi got to experience the highlight of servers everywhere… counting tips. ‘This might not be such a bad job after all’ she thought, pocketing her day’s take. For a coffee shop, they added up. ‘Too bad Sam took up a booth all day. What was his deal, anyway?’
Melissa gave her a good-bye peck, “See you in the morning, and don’t you worry about Sam.” Gino just shot a black look, from behind the pass thru.
It was gray out, rain threatening, as Suzi scurried thru the early after work crowd, heading to her subway. It had been a busy day, she should have been exhausted, but her mind was full of questions, fueling an epinephrine release. Wanting to be home in her apartment behind a locked door, Suzi didn’t mind admitting, she was shaken by this Sam guy. Thoughts pounded her brain. ‘They told her she’d be safe coming to a big city, blend in, disappear. So, how does he know her, and what is her special ability? There is no possible way he could know about the Gold Club.’
She picked up a ‘Lean Cuisine’… Butternut Squash Ravioli… for later. Not as good as Gino’s cooking, but it will do, her Microwave du Jour. On top of the ‘Sam Thing’, Suzi could not figure out what she had done to offend the cook. She had been pleasant, complimenting him on his dishes, even tried to flirt a little. Maybe that’s how he treats the new girls. Another question for Melissa. And, after the Sam one, and The Gino one, comes The Uniform One. Thank God she didn’t have to wear it home. She knew it was a diner, but it wasn’t Mel’s Diner for Christ’s sake. Rocky Road ice cream for dessert… she deserved a treat tonight.
A guy, in a battered Panama hat outside the market, seemed to be staring at her. She thought she had seen him on the other side of the street, walking even with her, and thought, ‘you don’t see that kind of hat too much in the big city’. He looked away quickly, and when she exited, he was gone. Laughing it off, ‘I must be getting paranoid, Sam’s henchmen are everywhere’.
The entrance to the subway couldn’t come soon enough… to disappear in the depths with the crowd. Descending the stairs to the platforms below, she scanned her pass and pushed thru the turnstile. Her red hair slapping her face as a train whooshed into the station. Still a thrill, taking the train, nothing like that in Florida. It was then that she saw him.
To be continued…
Fiction Relay -Part One by The Reclining Gentleman
Fiction Relay- Part Two by Discovery
Fiction Relay- Part Three by Woman Who Writes Stuff
Dawn will write Part Five