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CHAPTER FIVE
Fast Food, Fast Customers

As I walked through the pale wood door a musty smell wafted up into my nostrils. This was a delight to me, however, since it reminded me of my uncle Charles’ attic, which was full of amazing stories. And ladies’ clothes. I think uncle Charles was secretly a cross-dresser. It’s too bad he died a few years ago. I could really use a guy like him right about now. Not a guy that wears women’s under garments, but a guy who was a good listener and could provide very decent moral support. He’s the only member of my family I ever really liked.

Come to think it, if Winter could come back, who’s to say dear old uncle Charles couldn’t?

I looked up and down and saw shelves and stacks and barrels filled with books. They were almost everywhere, with just narrow paths cut out to various places, so that you didn’t have to step on a plethora of books to get around inside the store. I noticed a till and decided over there would be the best place to find the owner, or at least an employee, of this fine establishment. I wadded my way through the sea of books, and managed to ring the little bell that was sitting on the tiny counter top, and another pile of books. I heard a shuffling in the back room. A shuffling, and then what sounded like a tripping and a falling. After that there was a getting back up and a coming out to see who rang the bell. This was followed by a person simultaneously exiting and entering through the same door. That person was Len.

I wasn’t nearly as surprised as I would have been had I not just left the apartment of my dead ex-girlfriend. I was, however, rather happy to see him standing there, head as bald as ever, glasses as thick, and suit as black. I offered a hearty handshake, but was given a rather strong hug. I didn’t mind that much though. He told me that he had just moved back to the city, because he had inherited this place from an old man he had become friends with, back when he lived here. It was an okay little deal, with a bed and a stove, and everything else you’d need to live, in a little space in the back. We decided that it would be great to go out and get some lunch. We’d probably end up catching up on old times. I wondered how he would take the news that Winter had died and come back to life. I decided I’d ask him after I found out what the hell ever happened to him.

He hadn’t said anything about his letterman’s jacket.

We made our way to a nearby diner. Len said he always used to go here, back when he used to live in these parts. They had the cutest waitresses. I guessed that they must all be female wrestlers or something, but when we got in they were surprisingly small, and most decidedly cute. He must have seen me raise an eyebrow at this or something, since after we sat down he leaned over the table at me.

“I do have varying taste in women, you know. I don’t much go in for the big fucking chicks these days. Not since the whole god damn fiasco. Well, you were there. I’m sure you and Winter know all the hell about it. Where is your pale pal anyhow? Working or some shit?” He had sat back down in the middle of the second sentence, and by the time he got to the question about Winter, he was browsing through the menu. His mouth watered as though he hadn’t eaten for days, and knowing Len that just might have been true. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be paying for this meal, save a tip.

“Actually I don’t really know about the fiasco,” I said, avoiding the question. “All we found was some boot prints and a whole lot of your stuff. Which we took, by the way. Hope you don’t mind.” I glanced at my menu and decided upon a toasted tuna with a glass of lemonade.

Len put his menu down and grabbed a few little cartons of cream to build a pyramid with. After which he used a tooth pick and a salt package, both of which he got from his coat pocket, to add a little flag to the top. By the time he was done, the waitress had come and asked if we were ready to order. Seeing as how we were, we would have to put our conversation on hold for a bit. I asked for my tuna, toasted, on white, beef and barely soup instead of fries, and an extra package of crackers, in addition to the lemonade. Len asked for a chicken. The waitress asked if he wanted the whole chicken. Len said he did, and found out they didn’t serve whole chickens. He then asked for a piece of toast and some water. This caused him to have a bit of a laughing fit. The waitress rolled her eyes. After he had come to a conclusion, he glanced over the menu again and ordered a club sandwich, with fries, and gravy, with a cherry cola on the side. The waitress then took our menus and left

“I hate to see her go, but I love to watch her walk away,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye. Or was that just his glasses reflecting the overhead lights? Who could tell with him. “As for the fiasco, let’s just say that if you wrong the wrong girl then she’ll wrong you rightly, and leave it at that. Or we could say that a girl tried to fucking do me in with a semi automatic, and so I high tailed it the hell out of there,” He laughed and pushed at the bottom middle cream container. “I’m glad you guys got my stuff though. Probably sold it all, since it was a whole lot of junk, but that’s alright. I couldn’t think of a better couple to be getting rich off of my abandoned life.” He pushed again, and grabbed the cream out of its place. The tower wobbled but held its ground. Len started in on an outer one.

I asked him if he liked the jacket, and he said he did, and asked where I got it from. It puzzled me that he didn’t recognize it as his, but I figured not to push the matter since I rather liked it and didn’t want to give it back. He asked what Winter was up to. I figured it was now or never so I told him that a car had hit her, and she died. His cream pyramid toppled over. I told him not to worry, because she had come back to life, and had broken up with me just an hour ago. He asked if I meant that she had come to life just an hour ago, to break up with me. I said that no, she had probably been alive for a while, since she was living with a blonde named Bunni, of whose bed I had woken up in this morning. He looked at me, then up to the ceiling. I looked up, but couldn’t see what had caught his attention so. Len let out a long, low whistle.

“That’s pretty fucked up,” Len said, as he clasped his hands behind his head. “I mean Winter living with some bubbly bleached blonde? Shit, I never would have guessed.”

He was taking it a lot better than I had, and even I was taking it surprisingly well, considering. I guess it’s true what they say about the human race being desensitized by the media and popular culture. If I was a kid and had been in the presence of a dead person whom I knew, I would mostly likely have a lump in the back of my pants, and not just because I was prone to the occasional bought of rock collecting. Now, I don’t know, it even seemed natural that this should happen. Well no, not natural, but very right. The waitress sauntered over with out food. My tuna was a bit runny, but it was pretty good. Len’s club was greasy as an oil company executive, but I could tell that was just the way he liked it. Odd though, seeing a regular sandwich be all greasy. Or maybe it was odd seeing my own sandwich not greasy, considering the dive we were eating in.

“We should go see her,” Len said with a mouthful of food, the crumbs rolling down from his face. “We should go see her and sort everything out. I’m sure she didn’t mean it. She was probably just as shocked to see you as you were to see her.”

“I don’t see how she would be. I didn’t come back from the dead,” I told him. I opened two packages of crackers and crunched them into my soup. The third, I put in my pocket. Never knew when you might need a package of crackers. The soup was surprisingly hearty and hot. It seemed like it could be a meal all to itself.

“Man, that must be wild, being dead. I’ll have to ask her what it’s like. Did she see a light at the end of the tunnel? Did she meet up with a magic tree what’s fruits were her dead relatives?” Len took another munch on his sandwich. He starred off into nothing in particular, pondering death. Or at least I assume he was thinking about death, due to the questions he had just asked. It’s call an educated guess people. We all make them at some point in our lives. “Wild, daddy-o.”

I finished my soup, and started in on my sandwich, but I guess Len got bored by our lack of chatter, and he turned around to the booth behind us. There was an old man sitting there, with a grey sweater vest and a bad comb over. Len starting talking to him about death, but I wasn’t paying much attention. I wished I left some soup to dip this sandwich in. Should have thought about that before I decided to clean the bowl like a bottom feeder. I munched on the sandwich and looked around the diner. Wouldn’t this be a fun place to describe in a story, I thought to myself.

There were neon lights overhead, and they flickered every so often, but never in unison. The roof tiles had various stains, making it look like some workers had tripped and spilled coffee up there. Booths filled the wall, with the picture windows, opposite the counter. They were red and white. The booths, that is, and comfortable due to their well wornness. There were a few stand-alone tables in between the booths and the counter, with some hard wooden chairs sitting around them. All tables were white, with blood red flecks that looked like somebody had been cut up with a chainsaw in this place, and contained on their surface; One saltshaker. White. One peppershaker. Black. One napkin dispenser. Metallic. That is to say, the napkin dispenser was metallic, not the napkins contained therein. They also had your classic ketchup bottle, mustard bottle, sugar shaker, little bowl of cream, and little stacks of peanut butter, jam, and butter. It was your pretty average diner set up. On the counter there were a few pies in a display case, and some menus set up here and there. A couple of cops talked in one corner, having themselves a coffee, while another man, over in the middle tried to drown his sorrows in hash browns and toast. There were three different girls, dressed in classic pink diner attire, that you could occasionally see walking this way and that. I’m not sure where they went, or why they needed three, considering that there were only about nine people in the joint. Still, they did provide excellent and prompt service, and it was amusing to hear them yell back and forth with the guy at the kitchen. I thought to myself, that this would be a nice place to come and write. There was one lone booth over in a corner, just by the washrooms, that would suit me just fine.

Len turned around before I could really get into the ambience. “Got your little pad and pen out I see. What are you writing there, shit head?”

“Oh, just describing this place,” I mentioned, trying to hint in my voice that it really wasn’t any of his concern. I mean I love the guy, but was nothing sacred to him?

He took the hint, and dismissed in entirely, calling for the check. I should add that at this point he also got our waitress’ phone number, as it might come up again later. He then went to the bathroom and told me to follow him in a minute.

Like, I said, we weren’t going to pay for this meal.