A Light Caress – Friday Fictioneers

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting and for a wonderful year of leading this group. Thank you, thank you!!

Thanks also to Roger Bultot for contributing his photo for this week’s prompt. I just love diner stories.

A little sci-fi/romance this week. Sure, why not? Hope you can make sense of this.

And good news…this just happens to be my 500th post!!

diner-roger-bultot
Photo Prompt © Roger Bultot

(Sci-Fi/Romance: 103 words)

A Light Caress

His head felt foggy. Patrons shoveled food in their mouths and didn’t look up from their plates.

“More coffee?” The waitress was already tipping her pot.

Jake nudged the cup toward her and dropped a dollar on the counter.

She grabbed it instantly. He’d never seen a waitress so desperate for a single dollar bill, only she look displeased by the whole thing.

“What did I do?”

“This don’t work here. Your scan?” The waitress turned over his arm. “You need to go.”

Jake wandered the barren street, thinking only of the waitress and her light caress. He had to see her again.

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

A bit of a Charlie Brown tree this year (long story), but still shining bright with a little love and some lights. 🙂

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Wishing everyone safe and happy holidays!!

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Road Stop – Part 4 (Conclusion)

Inspired by true events. An account of four weary travelers on their journey from Southern to Northern California up the I-5 corridor and their stop at a diner somewhere along the Grapevine. 


All the soda in the world wasn’t enough to wash the french fry grease out of my mouth. Alex evidently felt the same way.

“I’m going to check out that gift shop,” he said, rising from the table.

“Finished?” I asked. He had only eaten half of his hamburger.

“Yeah.” I wanted to join him.

My mother read my mind. “Maybe we should all leave,” she pleaded. “Let’s get the hell out of here. We can pick up food in a drive thru. Get back on the road.”

“You want to?” I said, eyeing my mother.

As soon as we rose to our feet, the wait staff was pushing their way toward us. Jessica, Paul, and the old woman, all carried a plate for our table.

“Here you are, ” Jessica gently set the plate down before my mother, “Chicken, no onions.” A then a nod from Paul. Now to my sister, “Pizza with tomato sauce, no garlic. And for you, ham and cheese, no mayonnaise.” A nod now in unison from our delightful wait staff.

“Enjoy,” Paul said, in groveling, muted voice. He lives, I thought.

Looking down on my sandwich, I see an indentation in the shape of a fingernail. “I can’t do this.” I imagined my sandwich dissected and manhandled, the white cheese swapped out for yellow, still coated with some thick, white glue sauce. “I don’t want this.”

“Excuse me?” Jessica says, tilting her head.

“I don’t want this,” I whispered to myself. “How hard is it, for Christ’s sake?”

“What honey? I can’t hear you.”

Maybe it was her feigned, childlike innocence, but I wanted to blame her. I wanted to break her.

I lashed out at her, “How hard is it to make a sandwich? You have enough time to do your little dance. Can’t you make a simple sandwich? Is it really that hard? How hard is it?”

Anger engulfed me and I seized the plate and dropped it, smashing it into a thousand tiny shards. The sandwich lay on its side, unwanted and speckled with dirt. All eyes in the diner fixed on me in stony silence.

Jessica gasped, cocked her head. She was tugging at her hair, smiling slightly. She couldn’t hide that from me. With calculated force, I swept my arm across the table, sending the I.Q. game and its contents crashing to the floor. Yellow pegs rolled in every direction.

Trying to regain her composure, Jessica spatted, “Was that really necessary?”

Several employees flooded the area, scurrying on their knees trying to undo the damage.

I heard a thin wail from across the diner. Recognizing Alex’s voice, I rushed over to the gift shop with my family trailing behind.

Various trinkets and souvenirs  lay strewn across the concrete floor. Magnets, hats, glass figurines, bumper stickers, snow globes, stuffed animals, picture frames, all touting a different location and theme. A few were labeled with the Road House, but there was also the Cliff House, Lake Forest Cafe, and Rosie’s Steakhouse.

Alex stared wide-eyed out the window, his body tense and shaking. “Where is it?” he yelled. “Look, look, look,” he pointed and stammered.

We stood by his side, transfixed and motionless. Staring out the window, we saw nothing but a barren wasteland. A howling wind erupted, blowing tumbleweeds, rocks, and sand. There were no cars. No fast food restaurants. No freeway. Everything, gone.

Stunned into a speechless stupor, we watched the vision in horror. Choking for breath, I could not form any words. We began to cry, tears streaming down our face.

Jessica and her crew caught up with us, and waited in the gift shop entrance. Slowly, Jessica inched her way closer to our line at the window.

She peeked over our heads and said, “Uh huh. Looks like you’re staying with us for a while.”

“What? No way. We’re out of here,” I said.

“You can leave, but you’ll be back. You won’t get very far. They never do. They always come back,” she reasoned.

“We’re stuck here forever?” Alex asked.

“Not necessarily,” the old woman piped up. “Some of us are here longer than others.”

“Sometimes people, they go back. They’re only missing you see. Your best bet is try to work really hard here. Food can be quite good. Sorry, today some of the food you got was old. Our cook was sleeping today.” Jessica was rambling now. Paul looked to her to stop.

This was just a normal turn of events for them. “Maybe with you guys on board, Jessica can start doing the cooking.”

All I wanted was to be on a freeway, full of cars.

“Here you go,” they supplied us with white and green uniforms. “Let’s show you around.”

The End

photo credit: jef safi \ ‘pictosophizing via photo pin cc

Road Stop – Part 2

Inspired by true events. An account of four weary travelers on their journey from Southern to Northern California up the I-5 corridor and their stop at a diner somewhere along the Grapevine. 

Upon entering the dining area, we were greeted with blank stares and the unsettling sensation that we were interrupting something. A secret meeting, perhaps. Maybe they didn’t get the raise they were promised. Something was awry. More employees, outfitted in white shirts and green aprons, stood around in odd corners and crevices than there were people sitting at tables eating.

The lunch hour had passed long ago, but these employees looked put out and at a loss as to why we were there. They appeared to be guarding, on watch. Like gargoyles set in stone, they stood frozen, although I saw their eyes twitch back and forth between them, a coded language muffled waiting for a cue.

“Four, dining in?” A woman in her late twenties, too thin to be attractive, lunged forward from the ranks.

Tabitha, it said on her name tag, assumed the post as our hostess, prompting us out of our belabored reverie. Our stomachs were growling. We needed sustenance. We followed her to a red, padded booth.

“Paul will be your server.”  She slapped menus on the table and was gone before we could ask for water.

We breathed a collective sigh of relief as we scanned the menus with delightful approval. They were lots of possibilities here. There was every kind of sandwich, hot or cold, most with a roasted garlic sauce. I suppose it may have something to do with the agriculture in the area. Otherwise, salads, pizzas, burgers of many varieties, steak and potatoes, and a full breakfast menu available all day. Even the pickiest of eaters could indulge here.

It didn’t take long to make our decisions and we spent the next ten minutes playing what was labeled as an “I.Q. Game.”  I’m sure you know the one. The objective is to move the pegs across the board in any direction, except diagonally, removing each piece as you jump over it, in an attempt to narrow it down to one piece on the board. It helped pass the time initially, but our patience waned as we noticed only four tables with patrons, and an assembly of workers milling about. A couple of workers sat in a booth in the far corner fighting sleep and drinking coffee.

Finally, our server Paul made an entrance. He was short and stocky and his face reminded me of clown, only without the makeup. He had a bulbous nose, and two rosy cheeks, and protruding lips that sagged as though he had a permanent frown on his face. To complement his sad demeanor, he spoke nary a word.

Was he a mute performing in a fun house of mirrors sideshow? You must admit this is an odd trait for a waiter. Perhaps, he didn’t care about his tip. He merely nodded and scribbled every detail on his notepad.

First my mother Betty, “I’ll have the chicken sandwich plate with the small salad. But no onions on the sandwich, please.” It came with carmelized onions, which we all thought would taste wrong.

A nod from Paul to my sister Kristi. “I’d like the pepperoni pizza, but without the roasted garlic sauce. Just the normal sauce. Does it come with tomato sauce?” Paul nods twice. That must mean yes.

Now for my son Alex, “A hamburger, with french fries, everything on it except mustard and onions.”

A nod to me, “For me, the ham and cheese sandwich melt with french fries. No mayonnaise. Actually, just the ham and cheese. Nothing else on the sandwich.”

Paul turned abruptly and left in silence.

Kristi turned to me, “Susan, do you think he got it all? ”

“It wouldn’t have hurt to repeat it. Maybe he lost his voice. He seemed to understand it. I mean he wrote it all down.”

Cars in the adjacent fast food parking lot were emptying out. A bell rang a few times as people left, bringing in a waft of fresh cow manure. I hope it wouldn’t take much longer. We needed to get back on the road after all.

To be continued…

Dear Reader: There will be two more parts to this story. I hope you will join me for the remainder. Thanks for reading. 

photo credit: Caitlinator via photo pin cc