Subject: Wow! This fiction sure does SUCK!
Date: 07 Oct 1998 00:00:00 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mumthra)
Organization: MotPU: Where Binary Moodswings are ALWAYS on the Menu
Okay, okay. This one's a re-write, but most of the guts remain the
same. It has another ending tacked on that pleased me to no end
yesterday and inevitably made me think, WOW! I SUCK, today. Here's the
permissible remarks for your cutting and pasting enjoyment
[X] Wow! Don't ever quit! You're going to write better fictions any
minute now if you just keep at it! In spite of the deepest affection
that I feel for this story, I found the above a little confusing. It
is no doubt because I am not quite clever enough to understand it, but
I thought you might like to know that it made me scratch my head and
want some drugs right here.
[X] Wow! What the hell's the matter with you?!? Why do you ask what
anybody thinks when you don't care! I can't be objective about this
stuff because I think you're just SWELL!
[X] I loved it, and I'm not just saying that because I'm some kind of
He wasn't hungry; he would be less hungry soon without eating a
thing. Navigating the two-lane road with precision, he moved his
eyes in a regular and rhythmic pattern: rear view, front,
speedometer, side mirror, horizon. For variety, he checked his
gas gauge periodically to confirm that it was still hovering near
He was oblivious to the drifts of leaves that tried to tickle the
underside of his car, to the big mammals that chewed in his
direction as he passed. He was thinking of the mirrors, and when
the midday sun emerged, he patted his empty pocket and thought of
Gravel crackled under the tires as he pulled the car up to what
promised to be a Country Store. He had his doubts. The building
looked disused. The adjoining garage's windows were obscured by
grime. Two large, old fashioned gas pumps stood watch in the
front of the store, and they did not appear to be operational.
The big wooden door under the Country Store sign stood open,
although it was not particularly inviting.
He entered tentatively. Two ancient women sat in comfortable
chairs talking to The Price Is Right on a television, which was
remarkable for its vintage, volume and antenna. They greeted him
with surprise when the screen door slammed decisively, only
adding to his sense of having wandered into a stranger's living
"Are you lost? We had maps, but now we don't," offered the nearer
of the two. Her tone was helpful and he had to smile. She looked
as if she might get out of her chair, if it became necessary.
He started to motion for her to stay seated and to explain his
need for sunglasses when a gargling noise erupted from the floor
nearby. An agitated toy poodle galloped toward him, its eyes set
on his ankle. The helpful lady scooped the dog into her arms,
rather athletically, he thought.
"He's stone deaf. Yelling doesn't do a bit of good," she
explained very loudly. "Daisy won't listen to me, but I keep
saying there's no joy for a dog that can't hear and can't run
around," she continued in a confiding tone. "My sister's hearing
isn't what it used to be, either."
Daisy cut her eyes toward them, as if to belie her sister's tale.
"Don't talk his ears off! Give him the cigarettes!" she declared.
He scratched his eyebrow, completely unsure of what to say. He
settled on, "Sunglasses?" but Daisy's sister shook her head and
struggled the dog into a back room and closed it behind a door.
"May I look around?" It seemed like the polite thing to do. He
found a great many gaps on the shelves, and some curious, dusty
sections, including a comprehensive selection of gourmet
mustards. Near the front was a rack of yellowed newspapers that
bore a date from almost exactly ten years before. The continuous,
muffled barking and the blaring of the Showcase Showdown
discouraged any further inspection.
He bought one of the old papers from Daisy's sister, who had no
comment except to look at him sharply over the top of her
glasses. Tucking the paper carefully under his arm, he mumbled
his regrets and tried not to run out of the store into the once
again cloudy daylight.
Rather than continue on course, he pulled into the diner's
parking lot across the street and parked between a pickup truck
and a weathered, windowless van. As a contrast to the store,
the diner looked fresh and frequented. Its weary patrons ignored
him, but the waitress came to the counter as soon as he sat on
"I'm sorry, hon," she said, "but would you mind not sitting right
there?" He blinked at her as she continued, "You see, the
regulars here know that we don't use that stool--out of respect
for Daisy. See, it was her son's spot."
"Sun spots? I don't understand what you're talking about," he
could see her displeasure as she pulled herself up from her
conspiratorial slouch and folded her large, hairless arms across
Her words registered, but he didn't want to move. He decided
on another approach as quickly as possible. "I was just over
there, and I'm curious about Daisy and her sister. Do you know
what happened there?" Everything about their place announced that
Something Had Happened, he thought.
"Well, yeah, I know what happened," she paused and sighed, "You
really wanna know?"
"Yes. Yes I do."
"Well," she said again, getting comfortable, "I wasn't working
here then, but I heard about it. All about it. See, Daisy and her
sister used to do good business over there. They had the store
and the garage, with the pumps and all that. They did alright.
"Their husbands have been dead forever, I guess, but Daisy had a
son. they both just adored him-- maybe too much if you believe
some people. But that doesn't mean that there was anything
unhealthy, you understand." He nodded to show that he understood.
"Just they loved him a lot.
"He stayed and worked in the garage--ran it really--by himself
after his dad died. His name was Louis, and he was a real good
mechanic, not really bright, but a good man to have around when
things went wrong. Everybody liked him, at least that's what they
say now. Anyway, Louis used to come over here every day and have
the same thing for lunch every day: coffee, grilled cheese on
white, and a piece of apple pie if we had it. Every day he was
here, ate his food, smoked his Luckies, sitting right where you
are now, and he kept to himself unless somebody talked to him
first. He was kinda shy, I guess.
"Well, one day Louis was crossing the road when he was hit and
killed. He should have seen that schoolbus, I mean, they're big
and yellow, ya know, so everyone wondered how it happened. I bet
those kids had nightmares for years afterward. Anyway, some
people said that they thought Louis must have had something big
on his mind, like maybe he'd gotten himself engaged, secretly,
and didn't know how to tell the old ladies. Somebody--" she
glanced at the other customers, "Somebody even said that they
thought the he told them he was going to leave and his mother and
his aunt made it happen somehow, but I don't believe that for a
"They've never been right since it happened. They locked the
garage, left everything the way it was and just locked the doors.
Isn't that creepy? I think it is. Donny told me that when he was
younger, he and some of his friends were back there and one of
them rubbed on a window to get a look inside. He said there were
tools and oil pans laying around. it wasn't messy but just looked
like they really did just leave it exactly the way Louis did.
"It just makes you sad. Doesn't it?" She shook her head looking
down, while he nodded looking at his hands on Louis's
counterspace. "Listen," she said, "you can sit there if you want.
They won't be over for anything again today, I don't think." She
straightened up and asked, "Can I get you anything?"
He felt obligated, just as he had about the musty newspaper that
he would probably never read. "Well, okay, what's your special?"
She smiled and a giggle darted behind her eyes. "Grilled cheese
with chips and slaw. Honest."
"Oh boy. How about chicken salad? Do you have that?" she nodded
and he agreed to accept a slice of tomato and no extra mayonnaise
on his sandwich.
She refilled cups for the other customers at the counter and then
placed a cup of coffee in front of him. He decided not to point
out that he hadn't ordered it. When she came back to set out a
napkin and silverware for him she noticed the coffee anyway and
asked him if he had wanted it.
"No. But I must just look like a coffee man," he said.
She seemed to find this very funny. "Sometimes I wonder about
myself." A bell clinked behind her and she half turned and
scowled over the kitchen counter. "You don't have to do that,
Donny. You know I hate that thing."
"That Donny," she said sliding his plate in front of him, "He's
going deaf, so naturally he thinks that everybody else is too."
He thanked her and wondered why deafness seemed to be so
prevalent at this little crossroads. He picked up his sandwich,
looked at it, and restrained a scream. It was grilled cheese. He
dropped it back on the plate as if it were burning him because it
was burning him. The cheese that stuck to the webbing of his
thumb was branding the tender skin there. He dismounted the
stool, and sent the silverware flying as he shook it out of the
rolled napkin in order to free his hands of the seething orange
The other customers glanced at him briefly, looking every bit as
bored as they had when he had entered. The waitress rushed toward
him with a glass of ice water and ordered him to stick his hand
in it, so he did. With his free hand, he pulled out a fold of
bills and extracted a ten with his teeth.
"You don't have to pay," she said, "but I did tell you not to sit
there, ya know." He extended the bill toward her anyway until she
accepted it from his mouth.
"Keep the change," he said and cradled his wounded hand out of
the diner. In his car, he awkwardly started the engine with his
good hand and waited for his heart to slow to a reasonable pace.
A tap on his window prompted him to lower it.
"Are you okay?" the man asked. "You look a little green."
"I'm alright," he replied. "Did you SEE that? That was
just...just too much. Nothing like that has ever happened to me
"What? You never got the wrong order?" the man scoffed, "Donny
does that to everybody. You could have asked for PANCAKES
and you would have ended up with grilled cheese. The regular cook
is off, so Donny's back there, but he only knows how to make one
thing." The customer removed a cigarette from a crumpled pack and
wagged it at him for emphasis. "It's their little game, see?
Wherever you sat, it would have been Louis's spot. They never get
tired of it."
He could only stare as the man replaced his cigarette pack in his
shirt pocket. The pack appeared to have a red bullseye on the
front, but what that suggested was on the impossible side of unlikely.
The man smiled. "Watch out for that bus."
"Right," he said. He brusquely thanked the man and backed the car
He struck a curb first, he thought, but then the wheels were
falling entirely too far on the other side, as if it
were a cliffside curb. Did anyone bother to put a curb against a
cliff? A loud alarm sounded--a train whistle?--and seemed to go
on for a very long time before he heard something take a monstrous
bite out of the back of his car.
His head snapped forward at the end of a spin. His eyes stared
for a full minute before he could focus on the view in front of
him. It was a giant bumble bee, black on yellow, fuzzy and huge
in his field of vision, and it's printed name was HOOL BU. Then,
it was only dark.
He awoke again to the senses of motion and pain, a bag of clear
bee venom hung over him. He heard a confiding voice, "...hit one of
those things? I mean, good grief, they're big and yellow and all."
"He's coming around," buzzed a bee in a human suit. "You're going
to be just fine. Can you tell me your name? We know you can
speak. Just try."
"Hool Bu is beautiful...I am Hool Bu...You are beautiful too..."
Emancipate a comma! Evict mental ergonomics!