“We got another one, Harry,” Marci called over her shoulder to the hulking bus boy coming up behind her. “At least this time they had the good sense to pay first,” she grumbled as she snatched the ten dollar bill off the table and quickly pocketed it.
Grabbing the patron from under the armpits, Harry hefted him out of his seat and began to drag them to the back. “I never will understand why these people insist on eating all of it,” he thought to himself as he deposited the man’s dead weight in a heap next to the dumpster. “At least I only have to bring them this far,” Harry thought to himself. He couldn’t imagine what it was like for Dan-O, whose responsibility it was to take them the rest of the way, usually to the city dump or the river.
It had been like this for years, patrons would come in for a bite, some would leave with a doggy bag, some would leave in a body bag. Harry had a sneaking suspicion that the ones who ended up toes up were not as random as the rest of the restaurant staff would have him believe. No, Harry had been paying attention and those who unknowingly ordered their last meal followed a certain pattern. Take the woman last month at table 14. She had given Marci a hard time about her soup being too cold. Her last words had been, “I want my soup to be scalding hot, do you hear me! Scalding!” Then there had been the man two weeks ago who had only spoken Spanish and somehow still managed to argue with Marci over the onions in his salad. He should have just said “gracias” and eaten the damn things. Too late now.
Both customers had received gracious apologies from the restaurant manager and a complimentary dessert, their specialty in fact- a slice of the Killer Cake. And, just like the dozens before them, their eyes had bugled greedily as the giant slice of chocolate cake arrived, glistening with rich and ooey sweetness… and just enough poison to choke the life out of them.
Back inside, Harry tried not to think as he cleaned up after the restaurant’s latest victim. Bussing the table he thought back to the first sorry sucker he had the misfortune to watch die. It was a quiet night, they usually were, and Harry had only been 16 at the time. He remembered being so terrified, so paralyzed with disbelief all he could do was stare at the dead man doubled over in his booth, he hand still clutching the fork that had fed him his own demise. He had wanted to run to the police, he had wanted to tell his dad but guessing at his thoughts the manager, Derek and Marci had gotten to him first. Next thing he knew he was in cold storage, his head pounding and a simple message written in ketchup on the floor next to him- Talk and you’ll get your just desserts… and clean this up when you’re ready to get back to work.
Dumping the last of the night’s trash in the dumpster, Harry tried not to look at the distorted mass of the dead man and quickly returned inside to lock up. Pulling the locked door closed behind him, Harry began to walk to his car, turning once to look up at the florescent letters of the restaurant sign. Flashing boldly beneath the sign was smaller one that read “Home of the Killer Cake!”.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: I always thought it was amusing, the names some establishments gave their ‘signature’ desserts. “Death by Chocolate” and “Killer Cake” are two of my favorites, for both their terrorizing names and their pure yumminess. Tonight Andy and I decided to share a slice of the Killer Cake and I’ll be honest, I felt like dying on the ride home thanks to that little overindulgence. The thing is still sitting like a chocolate brick in the bottom of my stomach, like consuming a delicious paperweight.
TWO: While at dinner, there were several interesting patrons sitting around us, including the woman who wanted her soup ‘extremely hot’ as she mentioned over and over to the server in a not-so-nice-tone. Then there was the couple across from us who had to bail early thanks to what I assume to be morning-sickness for the woman who we all know is pregnant thanks to her over-excited boyfriend.
Love & Squirrels.