SPIKED BLACK TONGUES AT THE INDIGNANT CAFE BY MARK McKEE
When the waitress came I told her I would have the double Crayola
burger with extra magenta. She said okay and scurried behind the counter
to place my order. While she was gone and the crayons were simmering I
decided I wanted to be a giraffe. So I became a giraffe. I had a long black
tongue with little spikes at the end and I scuttled behind the counter
to bite the waitress. She screamed. Then she decided she didn't want to
be a waitress anymore; she wanted to be a ballerina hippo. So she became
a ballerina hippo. She did pirouettes between the aisles, saying, I'm a
ballerina hippo, I'm a ballerina hippo. I used my spiked tongue to turn
more patrons. Some became mailboxes, others became clouds. There was only
one unchanged person in the cafe. The cook was so irritated at having to
take and prepare orders, he called the local animal control and zoo keeper
and the waitress and I decided we weren't so keen on being giraffes or
hippos anymore. We decided, PDQ, to be plain ole humans again and I went
back to my table and she donned her waitress frock and we both pretended
like nothing had happened. The cook was still pissed. He couldn't change
into anything at all.
The Millennium Falcon was gassed up and ready to go. The cook got on
board, took the controls. He had a vendetta against the waitress and me.
He sent burly men to wiretap our phones. He listened in on our conversations.
He fitted the Millennium Falcon with nuclear warheads and a bomb-bay door.
When next he heard us speak the warheads would drop. Since we were home
when the burly men tiptoed in to install the wiretaps, we knew all about
them. We didn't speak on the telephone. Instead I went to the cafe and
ordered a double Crayola burger without yellow and the waitress brought
it to me without a word. We spoke with our eyes. They said things words
couldn't. The cook watched us warily. He thought we were planning something.
The Millennium Falcon grew rusty due to inactivity. The cook never pulled
it into a garage. It sat outside. Rain pelted it; snow, sleet, ice. Even
the melting sun. The Millennium Falcon was tired of being a spacecraft.
It wanted to be a real falcon. It turned into a real falcon and flew away,
taking the nuclear warheads with it. The cook was pissed.
While I was having lunch one day, the falcon flew into the parking lot
of the cafe. It walked in through the doors. It wanted to talk to the cook.
Look, it said, I'm not so keen on this kind of freedom. Being able to fly
wherever I want to, it's not my bag. I have trouble deciding. It was much
easier when you told me where to go. I didn't have to think. I liked it
better that way. Would you take me back?
The cook said he would and then he eyed the waitress and me with an
evil gleam. He had a plan.
The other patrons were tired of the cook's behavior. Since he began
the vendetta his cooking was shabby. You burned my toast, one of them said.
You burned my eggs, cried another. The cook did not care. He was more interested
in killing. To his credit, the patrons continued to patronize. We'll leave,
some of them said. Go then, said the cook. The patrons did not leave. They
liked where the cafe was. If not the food.
The cafe was tired of all of them. The bickering. The people who were
different kinds of animals. The spacecraft that became a bird. It was all
screwy to the cafe. Deep in its rafters the cafe had a plan. While it was
closed for the night the cafe found a magic marker tucked below the counter
and brown paper towels fastened inside its bathroom. The cafe wrote a note
on the paper towels. Closed, the message read.
The cook was astonished. The spacecraft was astonished. The waitress
and I were astonished. All the patrons were astonished. We stood in front
of the cafe staring at the message written on the windows. There was a
huge padlock on the door. It was held in place with a heavy chain. None
of us could get inside to daydream.
With a newfound sense of camaraderie we began to look around for a new