Monday, June 8, 2015

There Is A Place...

In my seven decades of life, I have learned two salient facts: the world is not safe and the world is not necessarily sane.

There is a place that looks like a restaurant affiliated with a well-known chain of fast food eateries, but that is only an illusion. I believe that the souls trapped in Purgatory come here to experience a brief respite from their penance.  

They sit and stare at the grimy walls reduced to a shade of burnt umber. Occasionally a stray napkin, a morsel of food, or a ripped piece of paper from a straw may drop from their nerveless fingers to contribute to the litter that peppers the greasy floor.

There is no conversation. The only laughter is an occasional humorless rasping bark swelling up from an internal monologue. The individual tables may have one or more customers, but they all act as if condemned to solitary confinement and eye contact never occurs.

They are not safe. They are not necessarily sane.

I look down at my hands with surprise that I cannot see through them for in this restaurant of souls it is I who feel like a ghost, an intruding revenant in a world where I am neither welcome nor acknowledged.

In the corner, a middle-aged man in shorts and t-shirt with a slogan faded to illegibility shouts two-digit numbers at the wall before him.  

In the corner, a young girl with hair black as the Abyss worries her drink, sucking on a straw.  As she tilts her cup, I see it is empty and moments later, she returns to her imaginary beverage.

An elderly couple sits at a table staring through each other. Each has taken a bite of their food. Both have been chewing without swallowing for the past five minutes.

At the soda dispensary, a man stands watching the beverage fill his cup, his face filled with wonder at such a miracle. When full, he drains the cup dry and then refills it again. As I watch in amazement, he does this ten times in a row and as I flee the restaurant, he refills it yet again.

I know, Gentle Reader, what you are thinking. I know this author. He writes short, dark pieces for entertainment, and if that is so, you are correct. My stories are nothing more than entertaining lies that hide a darker truth.

But not this time. This short work of 434 words is not fiction.

In my seven decades of life, I have learned two salient facts: the world is not safe and the world is not necessarily sane.


  1. The advantage of eating alone is you know you're the craziest one there.

  2. Did you enjoy Voltaire's "Candide" already?

  3. Actually I read that many years ago. I should reread it again.

  4. I read it before and it still creeps me out.