As a rule if you have to explain a story you probably have a problem with it-like it’s not ready to be told yet.
However, I’m going to explain this one for a very good reason.
I wrote it as part of a project at the Soul Food Cafe. Recently I was reading through the older work that I’ve done there and I came across this story- and liked it. I liked the way the characters played off of each other and I liked the feel of the Diner in the middle of nowhere.
To wrap this up, this story is my very own version of Frankenstein’s Monster and being that Halloween is coming I thought I would done some edits to try to help it stand on its own. There were about three ‘chapters’ before this one and almost as many after it, so if you feel as if you’ve walked in on the middle of a conversation, you are right.
So in the Spirit of that, please come along with me to
The Fork In The Road
I am traveling through a place called The Valley of The Bones in a bright red jeep with my friend who was stitched together from body parts stolen ( it’s not like they give them away you know ) from a cemetery by his parents and until very recently was hiding in a house owned by a crazy man who killed his wife and in the end had a famous poem written about them by a famous writer with a drug problem.
What will appeal to the public now days is getting to be very predictable.
Anyway, back to my story:
As you can see I guess my friend’s parents really wanted a kid.
I’ve always really wanted a dog but look- unlike some people I have limits for what I would do to get one.
My name is Sunny Longyear and friend’s name is:
” Milo. After all of these years I still can’t believe your parents named you Milo.” I make sure to snort and laugh extra loud- even though this stopped being funny about 600 miles ago.
” And I can’t believe you had parents. With you I see some sort of spawning scenario.” Milo is shading his eyes- I guess the light is hurting them.
Good I thought to myself.
That spawn comment was mean.
” Hey. That’s funny. You want to hear something funnier then that?” I ask as I reach into my under the driver’s seat where I store important stuff like breath mints and lip gloss and my Pez Dispensers.
” Well, this is not a magical journey-” I say as I pull my favorite sunglasses from under the seat and toss them on Milo’s lap. ” This Jeep is not magic. We are getting low on gas.”
” I know something funnier then that.” Milo tells me. Didn’t hear what those people were saying when you told them where we were going? Oh no wait. You couldn’t have. You were- oh how did you put it- you were resting your eyes on the bar. … Let me refresh your memory, they told you to not drive through the Valley of the Bones, they told you to stay out of it, they told you it was a stupid, stupid idea. So what did you do first thing this morning?”
” I bought this jeep and stocked up on Pez and Water. But I forgot to find a Valley Of The Bones map. My bad.”
“As a rule Milo, I think it’s a dumb idea to buy a car on the fly. But what I really like about this vehicle, no matter what it’s faults will be down the road is this- it doesn’t talk.” I point out to Milo then I turn on the radio. ” It does that instead. Pretty neat- don’t you think?
” What am I doing here?” Milo looks like he’s about to jump out of the Jeep and take his chances with the a giant scab of land called The Valley of The Bones when we go up and over a hill and there right in the middle of the road- is a Diner called.
” The Fork In The Road.”
There are gas pumps out front, an old fashioned Soda Pop Machine with motor that was working extra hard because of the heat and a tin sign that was being pushed back and forth in a breeze of wind that was not there.
” Well. This is convenient.” I say to Milo.
” Yes. It is.”
” We should probably just keep going.” I say.
” I think so.”
” Pump or Pay?” I ask
Milo reaches over and I hand him some cash and then he goes, all alone to
The Fork In The Road.
After what seemed like hours ( you stand there and pump gas in over 100 degrees, I promise you that minutes will indeed turn into hours and hours in a matter of seconds ) the Jeep’s tank was full, I wanted to leave and I could see Milo through a dusty window talking to a woman in a yellow and white dress with a cap on her head, and I’m not thinking waitress when I see her- I’m thinking
and on the heels of that thought I start to see keys…keys and locks and doors that only lock and open from the outside and then I run straight into the diner before I can change my mind.
Milo is looking at the Woman and the woman is looking at him and the Diner is cool and dark. There is only one table and two chairs in the entire diner and the menu on the wall behind the cash register says:
Welcome To The Fork In The Road
breakfast served all day long
Brother I think to myself as I read the sign -would you like some crackers with that CHEESE?
” Hey Milo, did you pay up? We have to go…”
The Waitress ( Nurse, it’s a Nurse but I won’t let that thought live in my head for to long ) says to me while looking at Milo ” You’re friend was asking me if we had a map. Of course what you need in a place like The Bones is a guide.”
” Really.” I practically shout at Milo’s back hoping that will make him turn around.
” This one, ” she says to me ” stinks of the grave and one doesn’t have to look very deep to see how flawed it is.”
“It- he has his moments.” I say as I try to figure out why she thinks Milo is a guide.
” He’ll do in a pinch…but…”
” Time to hit the asphalt Milo, let’s get a move on- ” I grab Milo’s arm and pull him away from The Waitress ( Nurse ) and when I look at him I can see his glasses are off and…
” You took his eye! You sick piece of work, give it back!”
The Waitress pulls a lace hanky from a pocket in the front of her apron and she dabs the corners of her mouth with it and then she delicately folds it and puts it back.
If she burps, I’m going to pull her heart out of her chest with my bare hands I think.
Instead of burping she says:
” Leave it here. Leave it here and I will guarantee your safety anywhere in this Valley- even beyond it. I can do that. Let’s sweeten the deal- being as you were kind enough to make a delivery to my establishment- I think that is in order. Let’s say I’ll even find something more proper to guide you. What do you say?”
” I say that the day I need help from a nasty grave robbing Ghoul that’s the day I go back to my house in the suburbs, paint it pink, get married and get a dog named Spot. That’s what I say.
Milo. Door. NOW.”
I reach down and grab my sunglasses off of the floor and as I do I catch a familiar scent coming up from the floor.
I know that smell, I used to smell it everyday for over 20 years at work at the Funeral Home.
I know that smell.
It’s embalming fluid.
The Fork In The Road
the diner that serves breakfast from dusk to Dawn
reeks of it.
Milo and I are standing next to the Jeep I have named Tomo and he’s saying we need to just get in drive and I tell him, ” I know how to get rid of that thing. ” I say as I point to the diner.
The Waitress is in the Window looking at us and by the time the sunsets she will be on the in front of the window and by the time night falls on The Bones she will be out on the road doing what Ghouls have always done.
” She took your eye and ate it Milo.”
“Well, technically it wasn’t my eye to begin with.”
You know- Milo does have a point.
” Look. Just tell me. Why do you want me to let it live. Just answer me that. That Ghoul is one nasty piece of work and if this place were to burn to the ground with her the world would not miss either one of them. In fact, it might just be a better place for it.”
Milo gets into the Jeep and takes the sunglasses off and as he wipes the dust off of them with the tail of his shirt he says, ” I don’t think either one of us are in a position to say who lives or dies in this world. I think we should leave that to the people who actually live in it.”
He looks right at me and I look into Milo’s empty eye socket and I agree.
I climb up into the jeep and turn the key.
And then we drive away.