Subject: Wow! This fiction sure does SUCK!

Date: 07 Oct 1998 00:00:00 GMT

From: (Mumthra)

Organization: MotPU: Where Binary Moodswings are ALWAYS on the Menu

Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free





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

half full.


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

the stool.


"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 apron.


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?"

he asked.


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."

Chuckling followed.


"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!