The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Untold Tales from The Diner

See, this is how stories get started:

It was early morning, so early the “Open” side of the open/closed sign hadn’t lost all of its warmth from having recently faced inward to the diner’s interior heat.   I found myself at the counter in my usual seat – one slot in from the far end of the row – where I began nursing my miracle coffee.  I call it “miracle coffee”, because I had no memory of it appearing before me.  It just suddenly… was.  From where I sat, all the smells of the menu as they were being started for the three early patrons reached my brain with delicious effect, bringing me into the world of waking, and possibilities.

Right about the time my ears started sorting the staff chatter into intelligible words, the second cook came in, a bit late and bustling.  Her energy was a fresh spark to the kitchen, an energy that had already drained from the early crew, succumbed to the dull mechanical plod through the morning tasks that follows the false vibrance of First of the Morning Energy.

And so there was coffee.  And smells.  And chatter.  And suddenly, I was awake.

As she donned her apron and slid into her work space with a double-tap of her spatula on the edge of the stove, she suddenly asked the early cook, “How did you get to work today?”  It seems his usual car wasn’t outside.

“Oh”, he said matter of factly, “I drove that little red car out there.”

“Who’s car is it?” She asked, as if on any given morning he might have brought just anybody’s car.

As he began to explain, he turned away, and in a mild panic I lost contact – couldn’t make out what he said.  I will never know whose car it was, nor how he came to be driving it.  

Another person might find this to be a loss of closure.  Another person may find themselves unacceptably dissatisfied and filled with a burning desire to ask, to know, to figure out all the juicy details of such casual handling of transportational  trauma.  Another person may languish in unrequited curiosity.

But not me.  

They say that to a writer, there are no bad experiences, only “new material”.  I embraced this principle, and in embracing it, was instantly flooded with with possible alternate endings to the tale.  In one, he was a kleptomaniac car thief who just used whoever’s car he could find in any given morning, quietly returning it at the end of the day.  In another, he worked nights as a repo man.  The scent of story endings rushed through my head like a flash flood in the desert, and I basked in it just as I had been doing just moments ago to the scent of the menu being cooked up.

My own breakfast arrived, pushing out the other olfactory possibilities.  Food must, in the end, be eaten.  And stories must eventually be told.  But this one… I think I’m going to hang on to this, like a surprise dinner, a snack I forgot I had on some dreary day when I find myself hankering for “a little something “.  Maybe, on some spiritless and lonely morning, it will be the only thing my mind finds when it reaches into itself for sustenance.  Maybe, as has happened before, the remembering will become in its own time part of the story.

Either way, I intend to be well-stocked for the lean times in my mind.  There’s a decent chance that you’ll hear about it.  But you’re just gonna have to wait, and in the meantime have only its scent to remind you of the possibilities.


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