Tommy came home for lunch break every Monday through Friday at 12:00PM. The meat packing plant was a 13 minute bike ride from his house, and if he pedaled really hard he could make it in 11. This left Tommy with 28 minutes to enjoy his lunch. Today was Wednesday and he was running several minutes behind his normal schedule. His shoelace had come untied while riding his bicycle and it tangled up in the gears. It had taken Tommy approximately 3 minutes and 30 seconds to untangle the lace and another minute to tie his shoe. He tied it in a double knot. By the time he arrived at home he was very hungry and was looking forward to the meatloaf sandwich his mother had promised him at breakfast. He would only have 22 minutes and to enjoy it.
A lot of people might find it strange that at the age of 44 Tommy was still living at home, but he didn’t care what other people thought. When his father passed away 27 years earlier, Tommy didn’t have the heart to leave her. When anyone asked, he would always reply, “Why would I move out? I have free rent and the best roommate in the whole world.” When Tommy put it like this, no one asked any more questions.
Tommy locked his bike to the banister along the front steps of his mother’s house as he did every day. He took the 6 stairs leading up to the porch 2 at a time. After all, he had to make up for the 3 minutes and 30 seconds he had spent untangling and tying his shoe. When he arrived at the front door he noticed that the white paint had started to peel. On Saturday, after sleeping in to 9:45 AM, he would repaint the door .
Tommy fished the old skeleton key out of the front pocket of his size 42 slacks and inserted it quickly into the lock. As he turned it to the left and heard that satisfying clack that doors make when their locking mechanism is working just perfectly, he smiled to himself. Even if he was running behind schedule, life was pretty darn good.
“Mom, I’m home!” he shouted. “Sorry I’m late. You’re not going to believe what happened!”
He walked into the kitchen expecting to see his mother standing at the counter, just finishing up his meatloaf sandwich, but she was nowhere in site.
“Mom!” He yelled again. “Where are you?”
There was no response.
Tommy walked into the living room, starting to get irritated as he already only had 22 minutes to enjoy his lunch and that time was rapidly decreasing. Then he saw her. She was face down in the center of the living room. Not moving. Not breathing. He rushed to her side and rolled her over on her back. Her cold dead eyes stared up at him. He took a deep breath in and out before speaking.
“Mom,” he said, “I thought you were going to make me a meatloaf sandwich for lunch today. You said so at breakfast. I would appreciate it if you hurried. I only have 19 minutes to eat now and then I have to get back to work.”
The corpse lay still in the center of the living room and Tommy stood back up and began to pace back and forth trying to figure out what he was going to do. He had never made a sandwich before, but it couldn’t be that difficult. He had watched his mother make thousands of sandwiches in the past.
Tommy went back into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Sure enough, he found the meatloaf wrapped in cellophane and the bread was where it always was, in the bread box on the counter. He opened the drawer next to the stove and found a butter knife. He took 2 pieces of bead out of the bag and set them on the counter. He unwrapped the meatloaf from the cellophane and cut off a big piece. He smiled as he did this, thinking to himself, ‘Mom would never let me have a piece this big.’ He put the giant piece of meatloaf on a plate and then put the plate into the microwave. He rotated the dial on the microwave to 2 minutes. As the microwave hummed, be began to smell the delicious meatloaf. Tommy sure was hungry. He spread mayonnaise on the bread and then added a liberal amount of ketchup. More ketchup than his mother would have allowed. He then took the steaming piece of meatloaf out of the microwave slapped it between the two pieces of bread and took a big bite.
Tommy looked at the clock on the wall. He would have to eat quickly if he was going to make it back to work in time. After all, he only had 13 minutes now before he had to get back on his bike or he would be late. He finished the meatloaf sandwich and opened the refrigerator for something to drink.
Tommy grabbed the gallon jug of milk and twisted off the blue cap. He drank directly out of the carton. The cold milk tasted better than he ever could have imagined. It tasted way better than it tasted out of a glass. ‘From now on,’ Tommy thought to himself, ‘I’m always going to drink out of the carton.’
Tommy had finished his lunch in record time and was out the door with 3 minutes to spare. He skipped down the steps and unlocked his bike. With a full belly, and a smile on his face, he road leisurely back to work.
Just a short story I have been working on. Might expand it to a larger piece and might leave it the way it is. Suggestions appreciated.
Jacob sat in the corner booth of Jimmy’s Diner. He loved coming here this time of night because the place was empty and the service was so bad that he didn’t have to worry about being bothered. All that he could hear was the buzz of the neon lights, the hum of the fans over the griddle in the kitchen, and the smack smack smacking of Peggy, the waitress’s, gum.
Tonight was the third night in a row he hadn’t slept. It was the third night in a row he had spent sitting in a booth drinking coffee. The coffee was terrible but it was of the leaded variety and that’s what mattered. The Pancakes were good. It’s hard to screw up pancakes.
Peggy stopped smacking her gum and put down her crossword puzzle. She liked to do the crossword puzzles from the day before so that she could cheat and look at the answers in today’s paper if she ever got stuck. She got stuck a lot. She wiggled herself over to Jacob’s table, her bleach blond perm bobbing up and down like a buoy on a sea of white trash.
“You ready to order honey?” She asked.
Jacob looked at her and cocked his head to the side, not quite comprehending what she was saying. All he could think was that this woman must have spent hours getting that hair just right for the graveyard shift at Jimmy’s Diner where he was to be her only customer. She had made herself look like a strung-out clown just for him.
“You look very nice tonight, Peggy.” He lied, and she leaned in close, smiling like a five year olds carving of a rotten pumpkin.
“Why Jacob, I’m old enough to be your momma and here you are flirtin’ with me… Oh my, what would they say?” Her words wafted towards him on a magic carpet of cigarette smoke and sour milk and for a moment he thought he would be sick.
Jacob looked around the empty restaurant and fought the urge to get up without saying a word and walk out the door. But he knew that he couldn’t. He knew that as long as the sun was down he was safer “flirting” with Peggy than going into the darkness.
“ How you been sleepin’?” She asked as she refilled his coffee.
“Pancakes.” He said, realizing just now why she was still hovering around his table.
“Pancakes.” She replied and bobbled back into the kitchen.
Jacob poured sugar into his coffee. He used his butter knife to stir. He tasted it, added more sugar, stirred again and then leaned back in the booth and shut his eyes. When he opened them, he was surprised to see that someone had come into the restaurant and was sitting in the booth right in front of him. His Pancakes were cold.
From the way the man was dressed, Jacob guessed that he couldn’t be more than 24 or 25. He wore a black hoodie sweatshirt and a black baseball cap with no emblem. The bill of the cap cast a shadow on the man’s face in such a way that Jacob couldn’t quite see if his eyes were open or closed. The man’s complexion was a dark olive, although it was obvious that he was European decent, and he had a subtle smirk to his lips that suggested he knew something that no one else could.
Jacob looked at the clock. It was nearly 5 AM. The day would be coming soon and he would be able to go back to his shitty apartment, but now that the stranger sat across from him, he feared he would never see another sunrise.
“Busy night, Eh?” Jacob said, trying to break the tension, but the man sat unresponsive.
Jacob poked at his cold pancakes with his fork and even though he looked bored and tired, his heart felt as if it would explode. He imagined the look of sheer horror that would creep across Peggy’s face when she returned to find him dead, face down in the syrup. He looked at the Formica table and frantically searched his mind for a way out.
“You want me to heat those up?” Peggy asked. And just like that, she was standing next to his table. He quickly scanned the room, searching for the man in the black hat, but he was nowhere.
“Did he leave?” Jacob asked.
“Did who leave?” She replied.
“The man that was sitting at that booth.”
“Just me and you tonight sweetheart. Just the way I like it.”
This time Jacob was sick. He got up from the table and ran to the bathroom suppressing the bile rising up in the back of his throat. He flung the door open and stopped in his tracks. The room before him was pitch black. He remembered from previous visits to Jimmy’s Diner that there was a big sign on the wall that read, “TURN OFF LIGHT WHEN NOT IN USE”. He always left it on.
He reached inside and fumbled desperately for the light switch, panic filling his very being, and then something from the other side grabbed a hold of his arm. He knew this was the end. For the briefest of moments he thought about screaming for help, but as he was pulled inside, his mind followed into nothingness.
Separate names with a comma.