Don't Eat at the Hall
  Alexander Harasymiw

The day is colder than those endless nights when that former lover would steal the sheets. Our hero stumbles into the Hall and is immediately reminded by the point-teeth and sag-heads that frequent it that his past self made some horrible mistakes. Unable for the moment to console himself with his usual wine and corn-chip orgy, he turns left at a shuffle and enters into what must certainly be some kind of Oliver Twist industrial hell eatery.

Slumping into the line, he can hear the snorting and sniffing of the habitual line-dwellers, and it is deafening. One of the trolls bumps into him, and our hero offers a prayer to the god of winter jackets, which at this point provide the only steadfast buffer shielding him from a greasy and ever-looming oblivion.

His turn to order finally arrives and he gazes sombrely at the 2011 Disgusting and Edible Catastrophes Exhibition currently being hosted. A voice challenges our hero from the shadows; a terrible visage materializes before him. She looks like an old man Harrison Ford stunt double who’s suffered a horrible flame/laser-related accident.

The Jell-O monster starts in about her day, but our hero, smelling the trap, among other things, quickly orders the red stuff coagulating by the stove. She haphazardly ladles out the red; stray soups splash out of the container, making good on this opportunity to escape. One of the queue ghouls, struck by some of the red, screams and convulses at its Hiroshima heat. Our hero catches a wink as the wretch hands him his bowl, but discards the gesture for a more desperate soul to deposit.

Our hero then lines up to make his plastic exchange with a register slave. Suddenly a face, a truly dreadful form, recognizes him and talks. The one-sided conversation lasts for hours with its long-forgotten origin, rambling narrative, and lack of closure. But to our hero, the smacking lips and flailing tongue lost their immediacy some time ago. He moves closer to the end, carrying the red.

One of the robot food pimps watches intently as our hero swipes and pushes. The price is no less than extortion: twelve nights of restful dreaming, plus tax. He moves onward, towards the tables, between the heaps of spent napkins, a restless spirit looking for solace.

He hovers his bottom over one of the many sticky seats, stressing his overworked muscles. He had come to town, died on the rocks, flown and fled into the fan, tightened the belt and squeezed mercilessly, he thinks. No day like today, all days like today: the grinding face, the climbing avalanche, the push without pull, the drive without wheels; a man, some red; nothing does. He sighs and plants himself.

The spoon hovers, as it does, then slowly meets his lips, like that former lover.

“Yuck.”

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