Aphrodite (... with a side of fries)

 August 16, 2013




It’s been a long day so far.


I’ve spent the morning supervising the IT aspect of a multi-department, three agency disaster simulation.  Three long hours later I’m going to lunch, alone, and find myself at Krystal’s at the 49 / 59 interchange because that’s what lizard brain wants.  I take off my Ray Ban Aviators and put them in their protective case.  I hold the sunglasses case in my left hand, along with my softcover copy of Charles Bukowski’s “The Pleasures of the Damned” which I’m about halfway through.


Krystal’s and Charles Bukowski.


I head towards the entrance to the restaurant.  A loud buzzing sound from my right and the squeal of rubber on dark black hot asphalt grabs my attenion and I stop as a white Toyota Yaris pulls in quickly in front of me, narrowly missing me by an arm’s reach, and parks in the handicapped spot near the front door.  A white guy, late 20’s, gets out and stretches, talking on his cell phone excitedly to someone named Lamey.  I know this because he calls this person by name several times during the conversation.  Yaris Guy has thick hairy arms, bright yellow shirt, head covered in a blue bandanna, beige shorts, ankle socks and old dirty sneakers.  Tattoos cover his arms, badly rendered tattoos, the kind of tattoos that you get when you have to balance your mediocre, often sporadic income between ink, liquor, smokes and pot … and ink comes out with the short straw each and every time.


I glance over his car from rear to front.  I glance to make sure that they have a handicap sticker or tag because old habits die hard and nothing pisses me off more than someone who isn’t handicapped parking in a handicap spot just because they are too damn lazy to park two spots over and walk a little farther.  He doesn’t have a handicapped tag or placard on his Toyota, no he’s just lazy or he’s one of those people who think that it’s okay to park in a handicap spot if you’re just going to run in and be right back out. 


He doesn’t look like a Yaris kind of owner, he looks like he’s driving the Yaris as some form of court mandated punishment because the size of the car and the size of the driver, plus what the driver looks like, is reason enough to smile.  This guy just reminded me of the circus, when that clown drives into the center ring and gets out of the little itty bitty car.

Court mandated punishment.


Sixty days in a Yaris, no time off for good behavior.


I can think of all kinds of crimes against humanity and nature that this mongotard might have committed, most of them involving handicapped women in wheelchairs or farm animals that had gotten stuck in a wood fence.


Yaris Guy still hasn’t seen me or noticed me.  He’s too busy talking to Lamey.


“Well, you know how it goes, Lamey.  Three hammers or a two liter … it’s all bronze to me.”


I have to stop because I’m not sure what I just heard one human being say to another over a telecommunications device.  Yaris Guy walks into Krystal’s in a fast step usually reserved for those about to crap their pants.


It’s all bronze to me.” I mutter, thinking that I’ll have to remember those words as a catch-phrase to use at some time or the other.


I sigh and step inside Krystal’s.


Cool air conditioning.


Unpolished chrome.


The smells of menu-selected fast food.


The pervasive stink of the human race.


There’s not many people seated in the dining area.  I’m the second in line at the register, behind Yaris Guy.  The Yaris Guy in front of me is bouncing up and down on his feet.  There’s a problem with his order, he doesn’t care, as long as he gets food he’ll eat it … or so he loudly proclaims.


“If you shove it in my face I’ll eat it.” He adds, laughing all by himself.


I sense an innuendo.


I think the uncomfortable look on the young woman’s face behind the register says she sensed it too.  She hands Yaris Guy an order number, it’s one of those stand up plastic things that you place on the edge of your table so an employee can bring you your food and be able to find you in the throng of human cattle that generally fills this place.


“Ok, Lamey.  I’m back.” Yaris Guy says into his cell phone as he takes his drink and sits down.


“No!  It is not the same!  Show me a dozen and I’ll float your rainbow.” Yaris Guy says loudly into the cell phone.


I think my human translator is broken because this is the second thing that Yaris Guy has said out loud that made absolutely no sense at all.  I follow him as he grabs a few napkins, a straw, some condiments then sits down.


“Welcome to Krystal’s.  May I help you, sir?” the young black woman behind the register says cheerfully but it’s a fake kind of cheer, it’s the forced kind of cheer that a steady minimum wage paycheck buys from someone who is doing the best that they can until a better job comes along.


So it is my turn.  The young woman behind the register takes my order.  I keep it simple.  I notice that Krystal’s has a new 44 ounce sized drink called “The Roadie” which I guess competes with the only other 44 ounce sized drink in town, Sonic’s “Route 44.”  I opt for the new size drink with my meal, sweet tea, thinking that my own supply of tea back at work is depleted, it would be a waste to make a pitcher of sweet tea and have it go bad over the weekend and Krystal’s usually has great sweet tea.  Usually.  Today proves to be the exception, much to my chagrin, and as I take my first sip of my brand new Krystal 44 ounce “Roadie” all hope that I’d have enough tea to float me through the afternoon vanishes like piss down the drain in the shower.


Oh, well.  Beggars can’t be choosers and it’s better than not having any tea so …


The young woman hands me my debit card, a receipt and a plastic number to put on my table, “22”, white numerals on a self-standing red background.  She tells me that she’ll bring my food out to me if I’ll just have a seat.  Like a good customer, a well trained customer, a veteran fast food purchaser, I take my number and sit at the table next to Yaris Guy.


“There’s at least sixteen to the dozen, God as my alibi.” Yaris Guy says.


And sit.


“Lamey!  Listen to me!  This is gonna be smoother than velvet on sand paper so don’t screw it up.  All you got to do is find the straight bend.  What?!  No, that’s a unicorn shit excuse if I ever heard it and you know it.”


There are six other people in Krystal’s at this time.  Four turn and look at Yaris Guy when he says “unicorn shit.”  I smile.  I have added so much to my cached vernacular in the last ten minutes … I’m seriously struggling, mentally, to find a use for the term “unicorn shit” because that’s just way too good to ever let go.  I drop my mind to neutral, crank back my own entropy as far as I can and just … sit.


And then I remember that I have my soft cover copy of Bukowski’s “The Pleasures of the Damned”.  I crack open the book, find my bookmark, and start reading.  I get through three poems, two long and a short;


“When you wait for the dawn to crawl through the screen like a burglar to take your life away.”


“The talkers.”


And …




Still I sit, waiting.


Yaris Guy sighs heavily.


“Lamey.  You’re yanking my goat, man.  Don’t do me like this.”


I read …


“Advice for some young man in the year 2064 A.D.”


“Ice for the eagles.”


“Girl in a miniskirt reading the bible outside my window.”


I am God.


I am God and yet I have no food. 


I look around.  There really aren’t that many people here and Krystal’s doesn’t have anything on the menu which takes a blue ribbon chef to create.  I read another poem, a sad poem;

“Hell is a lonely place.”


One of the employees calls out a number.  Yaris Guy motions that the number belongs to him.  The employee thanks him greatly for spending his money here.  Yaris Guy gets his food, gets up, walks out, gets in his Yaris and leaves.  He’s never stopped talking on the cellphone since I first saw him step out of his Yaris.  He leaves, with the cellphone still glued to his ear.  I look around again and realize I am in company that is less than normal.  There is a disturbing, emaciated old man sitting to my left.  He eats his Krystal’s in nibbles.  He eats his fries one at a time, slowly grinding them down like a Number 2 pencil being shoved into an electric pencil sharpener.  He ordered a shake as his beverage, what flavor I can’t know.


I sit, my mind in neutral.


Overhead Marvin Gaye is crooning out the lyrics to his 1982 hit “Sexual Healing.


Get up. 


Get up. 


Get up.


I sit, observing.


A Krystal employee, a black woman, sits at the table to my right.  She has a tray of food.  It must be her lunch break.  She rocks back and forth in her seat as she sits, it’s an almost spastic motion, almost like I’m watching someone laugh out loud in a completely silent film.  It’s almost as disturbing as the old man to my left.  I turn to look back at him.  He’s taking nibbles out of his Krystal burger, slow, methodical nibbles, like each bite is his last.  I start to try to think of his life, his childhood, where he might have been born, of his life in general, what did he do as a career, all the things that might lead up to him being here, right now, in this place at this time and I grow bored with the mental exercise before I even get a good start at it.


My mind is in neutral.


Someone calls my ticket number.


My mind is in neutral.


Someone calls my ticket number … or I think they call my ticket number.


I look up.


Nearly ten minutes have passed since I placed my order, according to my watch and the time stamp on the receipt.


The young girl who took my order brings me my food, four Krystals, no cheese, no onions, no pickles, just mustard and a large fry.  She forgets to take the plastic order number off of the table meaning that her mind is elsewhere as well.  Maybe that’s why my food was delayed, perhaps everyone in Krystal’s, even me, has our mind somewhere else, in neutral, in a better place than here.


I realize that I don’t have any napkins or salt. 


I get up, take the order number back to her, grab three napkins, wonder why I always take three napkins when the most I ever use is just two, and get one pack of salt.  I sit down, put one napkin in my lap, put another napkin near my food for my hands, bow my head and say grace silently.  Halfway through grace I realize that I have a routine that I follow and my thoughts wonder back at how long I’ve followed this three napkin routine … I can’t remember when it started.  It’s odd to have a routine for eating, it’s almost like being preprogrammed and that bothers me in just a little way.  When did I start that routine?  How long has it been going on?  Then I remember that God doesn’t like grace with interruptions so I finish saying grace, tabling the self-introspection of my routine and decide just to eat and enjoy my meal.


I pick one of the Krystal burgers out of the cardboard container and use the last of my salt to try to give it some discernible flavor.  Salt may not be divine but it does either hide or make up for a multitude of culinary sins.  As for the Krystal burgers, I gave up long ago trying to figure out what kind of meat the square slices of dark gray food product are.  Sometimes, if the mustard isn’t spread far enough across the surface of the meat I can see a purple splotch or two, like someone dropped a permanent marker on my patty after it came off the grill. 


Krystal calls what it serves “meat” … I’m supposed to be reassured by the health inspector report on the wall which has a big “A” on it, a sheet of paper in a frame that was probably bought at the local “Everything’s a Dollar” store.  Regardless of what Krystal’s uses as “meat”, I resign myself that it is now my lunch and just enjoy it.  Some things in life it is best not to think about let alone dwell on for any real length of time …


The first Krystal burger is finished as overhead, Marvin Gaye finishes crooning out the lyrics to “Sexual Healing.”  I remember when that song was brand new; 1982.  I was 13 years old.  I didn’t care much for it as a teenager mainly because it was an R&B love song and love seemed a rare commodity in my teenage years therefore any song that dealt with that emotion was just a reminder that I had nothing to celebrate.  Two points hang in memory regarding that song.  The first point I remember is that some jerks at my junior high once tried to call the local radio station, WHSY 104.5 FM and dedicate that song from my friend, Jack, to me, hinting at a possible homosexual relationship between the two of us.  The only relationship that Jack and I had was a relationship like Chris Makepeace and Adam Baldwin shared in the 1980 movie “My Bodyguard”.  Jack was always getting picked on by the bullies and I was always there to try to get him out of trouble, often taking his place when a fight was about to break out.


In hindsight, I guess to the small minded mentality that most bullies had, that kind of relationship was homosexual in nature … one guy taking up for another guy who couldn’t, not at all like walking around with five other guys to give you support and talk you up because you couldn’t stand on your own alone.  The DJ was smart enough not to air that request during the hour long late night dedication and the only way I found out about the submitted request was one of the jerks told me about it the next day at school.  The irony of the situation was lost on him, completely and that guy went on to have three failed marriages, two kids by two different women and a career as a used car salesman who migrated between major car dealerships and minor used car lots.  I know this because about fifteen years ago I ran into him again, in another Krystal’s, on the other side of town, as coincidences go.


He recognized me and acted like I was his long lost friend.


He wanted to talk.


I listened.


His stories were boring.


He gave me his business card.


It hurt not to laugh out loud at how his life had turned out.


Karma is a real stepbitch.


That’s one memory of the song that I have … the other is the fact that two years after the song came out Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father in the family home over an argument about some business papers that had gone missing.  Marvin Gaye had a lot of good music and I really liked his earlier work in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s but I guess I have this image of him not with a microphone crooning out some smooth R&B but of his last few seconds of life seeing the man who had brought him into this world raising a gun and taking him out of this world.

Marvin Gaye is replaced by the Gorillaz and their catchy hit “Clint Eastwood.”  It’s kind of a sudden gear change to go from Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” to the Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood” and the irony wasn’t lost on me.  Clint Eastwood, “Dirty Harry”, carried a .44 magnum revolver and dispensed justice left and right with a raspy voice blown through a snarl.  Marvin Gaye, killed by a handgun wielded by his father.


I’m happy, I'm feeling glad
I got sunshine in a bag
I'm useless but not for long
The future is coming on
It's coming on
It's coming on
It's coming on


I pull my second Krystal burger from its cardboard carton and remember that I don’t have any more salt.


I need more salt.


I get up and grab two more packets of salt, each no bigger than my thumbnail.  Why does sugar come in this huge packet and salt come in this really small packet?  Who decides that?  I think it needs to be rethought, if only for the sake of convenience.  I don’t need a lot of salt with my meal but having to tear open a new packet for every item on my tray seems to be redundant.


I sit back down, rearrange my napkins, and get comfortable.


I’m nesting.


Someone says something from behind the counter, an employee talking to the woman next to me, the Krystal employee taking her lunch break.  She says something in reply but I can’t understand what she says.  I find that strange … she is saying something, excitedly, replying to every single question that the other employee on the other side of the restaurant is asking her.  I can understand perfectly what the employee across the restaurant is asking the woman sitting next to me but here, this woman sitting right next to me, so close I could simply raise my right arm and touch her … I can’t understand a single word that she’s saying.


It’s gibberish. 


It’s like Ebonics spoken underwater by “Mush-Mouth” from “Fat Albert”.


I listen to her talk.


I replay the sound in my head or at least as close as I can to remembering what sound she made.  Nope.  I can’t make out a single word that she is saying so I ignore her and continue reading from “The Pleasures of the Damned.


The girls and the birds.




No leaders, please.




One for Sherwood Anderson.


I finish my second Krystal burger as Gorillaz is replaced with Wang Chung and their hit “Let’s Go.”


I finish “A bow wow love” …


“… we should have known.
Maybe we wanted cotton
candy luck.  Maybe we
believed.  What trash. 
We believed like dogs


That part strikes a chord in my soul, I read over it again, realize that I may be guilty of having believed like dogs believed at certain points in my life and with a quiet not to think on that more, I turn the page.


A brunette middle aged woman with two fuck trophies and a husband going bald enters Krystal’s.  She’s wearing sandals, tight jeans, a frilly black almost see through shirt, and her sunglasses pushed up on her long brunette hair.  She has pretty eyes and a really nice figure, not the usual clientele for Krystal’s which usually consists of long haul over the road truckers (who park their idling big rigs in a long line beside the restaurant) and the kind of women who try to make a living off of servicing truckers who like those kind of women and who also think that Krystal’s is high cuisine.  The middle aged woman’s husband is wearing a pink button up golf shirt with some logo on the left breast, white shorts, dark dress socks and some type of Croc wannabes that are a mixture of plastic and leather.  He walks like he’s got a four D-cell Maglight shoved up his ass and his wallet is three times as thick as mine by the bulge in his back pocket.  Either that or he’s got an ass tumor that would make Ripley’s Believe It or Not interested in including him in this year’s compendium.


This is a change because the middle aged woman is really attractive.  There’s an imbalance here, the universe isn’t happy because something has been forced upon it.  Her beauty is in direct contrast to his stark lack of handsomeness and even lack of masculinity.  I find it hard to imagine him carrying his own golf clubs on the green let alone knowing how to change the air or oil filter on the late model Mercedes that they pulled up in.  I bet his fingers can dance on an adding machine, though, tap dance on those keys.  He looks like a CPA, he doesn’t act like a doctor.  I try to imagine what someone like her is doing with someone like him and then I remember The Eagle’s old song “Lyin’ Eyes” …


Yeah, I guess every form of refuge really does have its price.


The middle aged woman puts her child down next to her other child, says something to her husband and then walks past me.  I’m reminded of someone from my past, someone long ago gone, a memory of what we once shared.  The middle aged woman heads to the bathroom and enters.  Her husband and kids mill around, useless without her guidance, seemingly in a holding pattern where they huddle together near the far side of the restaurant awaiting her return.  They’re like missionaries in a den of sleeping lions, being quiet, rock still and hoping for the best.


Maybe I was wrong.


Maybe it’s not her that’s paying the price for refuge.


Maybe it’s him.


There’s always two sides to every marriage and sometimes you really do get what you pay for.  If you can’t win her with your charm and wit, you might can buy her with your lifestyle.  It’s a hollow relationship at best.  I’m musing on this as I read:


“The day the epileptic spoke.”


“When Hugo Wolf went mad …”


And …


“In a neighborhood of murder.”


Bill and Ted once opined that there was something strange afoot at the Circle K.  Something strange is always afoot at Krystal’s, it’s like a rip in the fabric of normality where all the belly button lint of the universe collects in an aggregate the likes of which can’t be good for long term exposure.


Then she appears.




And it is as simple as that.


I see this white Chevy Suburban quickly pull into the handicap parking spot just outside the restaurant doors, the same one that Yaris Guy had been parked in.  It’s like it just appeared out of nowhere and glided in for a landing.  A blue and white handicap placard hangs from the rear view mirror.


Four people in the Suburban, two in front, two in rear.  A woman is driving, a man is slumped down in the front seat, not moving.  A man is reclined in the rear seat, moving around every now and then.




She gets out of the back, left side, driver’s side passenger door, walks around the Suburban and heads towards the front door of the Krystal’s.




She is a goddess.


This is no exaggeration.


She is a goddess made manifest in physical form.


She is a curly redhead, long curly red hair hanging down to her ample, gravity defying breasts in front.  She is curvy, not skinny, not fat, she is an Amazon.  Trim, fit, almost big boned but with everything proportioned perfectly to a woman with an easy six foot plus frame.


She is the kind of woman that Boris Valljero would love to paint. 


She moves confident, determined.  She is wearing some animal print top, thin material, draped over her wide shoulders, tight tan shorts that accentuate her hips and thighs and brown sandals on lightly tanned legs with painted toe nails. She opens the front door of the restaurant, steps in and immediately heads for the bathroom in back.  There is almost an audible silence that falls over the customers and employees of the restaurant … she commands this much presence.  It’s like a spell that is cast over everyone in the restaurant.




Simply commands it.




I can’t help myself.


Millions of years of evolution kick in, lizard brain forgets the Krystal burger that he was eating and with no good manners stares, no, gawks at this red headed Amazon goddess as she turns and walks past me.  An instant instinct passes through me … club this woman on the head, drag her by her hair back to my cave and start a new race of IT administrating Neanderthals with her.  The instinct is so tangible that it is almost made physical.


The disturbing old man to my left notices her as well.  He even stops eating, puts his Krystal burger down, turns in his chair and stares at the redheaded Amazon goddess as she walks by.  His mouth is open, an old gaping, yellow, jagged teeth filled maw with skin stretched tight around the edges.  He stares at her and stares at her.  He has just gone from disturbing to downright fucking creepy.  As for me, I want to look … I want to throw a glance over my shoulder and see her bottom as she walks away, to see her sway and shimmy because if the view from the front was anything of a hint, the view from behind was going to be fantastic.


She is a goddess.


Her body is a temple.


But I don’t throw that glance.




I don’t dare look over my shoulder at her because I really don’t want to have the same expression that the creepy old man has … please, God, don’t let me have that same expression, not at my age and not around someone so … perfect … as the redheaded Amazon goddess.  I do a mouth check, my lips are still together, maybe I smiled at her as she walked by but at least I didn’t have to pick my jaw up off the floor.  Twenty years ago, yeah, but there is something to be said about age and wisdom.


A woman comes out of the bathroom and walks past me, the brunette middle aged woman with the dork husband in pink and the two fuck trophies that still stand, huddled together near the register, unable to function without her guidance and direction.


Overhead, Wang Chung ends and .38 Special starts playing “If I’d been the one.”


How appropriate.


It’s one of my favorite songs from the early ‘80’s.  And like that the pause that had held Krystal’s in silence broke and everyone seemed to go back to business, back to life like nothing had happened.  Maybe I’m the only one that noticed this … the redheaded Amazon goddess has vanished into the bathroom.  The spell that she cast in her presence has faded and no one seems to be the wiser for it.  The old man to my left is still turned around in his seat, staring past me, staring at the bathroom where the redheaded Amazon goddess went into.

His mouth is open.


Thankfully he doesn’t have any food in it.


His mouth makes little motions like he’s saying something that only he can hear.


He continues to stare.


I go back to eating.


I read …


“In a neighborhood of murder”


“The strangest sight you ever did see …”


And …


“The second novel.”


I eat my third Krystal burger, having found the right amount of salt to give it taste.  I try to read more but it’s almost impossible with the thought of the redheaded Amazon goddess still on my mind.  It’s been about four minutes since the redheaded Amazon goddess went into the bathroom and part of me notes that is longer than it generally takes to pee.  The disturbing old man to my left has apparently come to the same conclusion as he slowly turns back around in his seat and goes back to nibbling his Krystal burger.  I guess he was waiting on her speedy turn around in order to gawk some more at her figure.


I watch the dork with the middle aged woman take his two fuck trophies and claim a table somewhere behind me, leaving the middle aged woman to do the hunting and gathering chores at the counter and as the dork passes me I think that she must have a pretty good life because the price she paid to have it was a high one if he’s really the father of her children.  Probably not … he’s probably just her meal ticket and she’s getting the most from him that she can with the least amount of effort on her part.


.38 Special finishes up as I reach for my fourth and last Krystal, salt it, and realize that I’m almost out of fries as well.  The bathroom door opens behind me and I can tell that the redheaded Amazon goddess has finally appeared again because the disturbing old man on my left puts his nibbled on Krystal burger back on his tray, looks over his shoulder, then turns almost completely sideways in his chair, his mouth hanging open again.


A hush falls over the restaurant … again.


Her spell comes back strong, forcing everyone to hush in her presence.  The only noise is the sound of the climate control system through the vents overhead and somewhere, in the back of the kitchen area an electronic beeping begging for human attention. 


She has reappeared.


Movement behind me.


She walks past, close enough to almost rub her hip up against my shoulder.  She is headed for the front door of the restaurant.


She smells of flowers.


She smells of hand soap, the pink liquid kind you get out of a dispenser that you have to pump over and over again to get anything at all to come out of it.

She is as perfect from behind as she was from the front.


Her legs, her hips, her sway as she walks.


Her figure is mathematical in makeup.


You could plot her curves on graph paper.


Three thousand years ago entire city-states would have gone to war over a woman like this.  Ballads would have been written about a woman like this, epic tales of conflict, of heroes and battles.


But that was three thousand years ago.


A lot has changed in three thousand years.  A beauty that once would have pitched city-state against city-state now does little more than quiet the clientele of a subpar fast food restaurant.  And here I sit … all the decisions I ever made, everything that I chose to do with my life and here I sit, in this Krystal’s, alone, eating substandard food because I consider it a convenience while something like that, something like the redheaded Amazon goddess, walks in and out of my life with no more concern than to relieve herself and get back on the road as quickly as possible and finish traveling where ever it is that she is headed to.


Sound returns to the Krystal’s.


The creepy old man, lizard brain and I watch the redheaded Amazon goddess get back in the white Chevy Suburban.  The creepy old man is now turned almost completely to his left, in his chair, staring out the window.  We both stare at what may well have been one of, if not the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life.

The Chevy Suburban backs out and slowly drives off.


I get a glimpse of a tag on the back bumper of the Chevy Suburban … Wyoming.


It’s not personalized.


I find that strange because a beautiful woman like that isn’t something I’d think of as ever coming out of Wyoming.  Something like that couldn’t have even stepped out of the best plastic surgery clinics in California.  No, something like her was not of this Earth.


She had been unearthly, ethereal, a goddess.


Her home had to be high atop Mount Olympus.


The white Chevy Suburban vanished from sight down the highway … and like that she is gone.


The redheaded Amazon goddess, her story, whatever it is, will have to forever remain a mystery.  The spell she cast over everyone in that Krystal’s was awesome to behold.  The only thing that I do know is that for about ten minutes one of the most perfect women I have ever put eyes on walked into the fast food restaurant that I was eating at, used the bathroom and then left with not a single word uttered.  I thought that if she was really a redheaded Amazon goddess then maybe she had simply been stopping by this Krystal’s to give the rest of us mortals her opinion on the food and service offered herein expressed with her nearly ten minute stop in the bathroom.


My head begins to clear and I frown as I remember that I have a lot to do when I get back to the office.  I have another bite left of my last Krystal burger but the will to complete the meal has vanished as well and I put the rest of the burger back down on the tray.  With no real reason to stay any longer, I get up and start to clean up my mess.  Another employee says something to the employee sitting to my right, something about the MilkQuake mixer and the employee next to me replies in the same underwater Ebonics gibberish that I can’t make heads or tails of yet the other employee behind the counter seems to understand perfectly.  The employee next to me goes back to rocking back and forth in their seat, eating their Krystal burger.


I wonder again what Krystal burgers are made of.  Maybe Krystal burgers are people, like Soylent Green.


Back and forth.


She rocks.


Back and forth.


The creepy old man turns back around to face forward in his chair.  He picks up his Krystal burger in his right hand and starts to nibble it again.  His left hand is in his crotch, slowly rubbing back and forth at the front of his pants.  Maybe he’s wiping his greasy hand on his pants.  I hope so because I know what it looks like he’s doing from here and I don’t want to think about that … not from him.


I pick up my tray and get rid of my trash, returning to my table only to get my Ray Bans case and my Charles Bukowski book.  I grab my stuff and head for the front door, stopping only long enough to take my Ray Bans out and put them on before venturing out into the hot parking lot.  Overhead, Bad Company is playing the start of their hit “Bad Company.”

I walk out into the overcast day.


Heat shimmers off of the surface of the parking lot.


It is 12:54 PM.


As I get in my work truck, crank it and head back to the office I wonder where the redheaded Amazon goddess was headed.  I also wonder if anyone else in Krystal’s has noticed that the creepy old man near the front door is playing with himself while he slowly eats his meal.