Crackers: Part One.
by Lauren August.
updated: 1.11.2: 07 November 2005.
forum: night.blind: Crackers.

a collaborative fiction.

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night.blind: 01.11.1: 01 November 2005: Lauren August.


          "Pink Candy Shavers?"

          "Blueberry pancakes."

          "Massive Bukkake Facials?"

          "Three eggs with toast."

          "Dirty Danza?"

          "Three eggs with French toast."

          "Huge Fat Fucks?"

          "Shouldn't it be freedom toast?"

          "Meat Swords?"

          "Sausage links, three for a buck."

          "Gay Pass?"

          "Customer restrooms in the rear. Wait-- Danza?"

          "His First Threesome?"

          "Cold cereal with milk."

          "Porn Video Station?"

          "Not even a jukebox."

          "Sucking Cock for Monkey?"


          "Misprint. Money."

          "Sucking Cock for Money?"

          "Excuse me?"


          "Don't serve it."


          Charlotte stops and considers. The waitress had the misfortune to approach the table and overhear her reading an email, still displayed on her clam. Beryl covers her mouth and tries to conceal a guffaw. The waitress probably doesn't have a link or a clue. Spam? Don't serve it.

          The waitress has the stern, chiseled face of a monument. No, she doesn't have email. She doesn't get Spam. She doesn't serve Spam. This is Crackers, god damn it.

          Charlotte flips her clam closed, and the text display snaps off. The offending list of specialty XXX sites disappears. "I'll have the cold cereal with milk, the three eggs with French toast, and the customer restrooms in the rear."

          The waitress drops a key onto the table. The keychain appears to be a two-by-four. Someone has meticulously woodburned CRACKERS on the surface. The edges of the letters are smooth and elderly, worn that way by ten thousand truckers, ten thousand farmers. All had one thing in common. "And you?"

          Beryl smiles as only she can. "Five dollars of sausage links, please."

          Beryl smiles wider as she watches the waitress try to do the math in her head.

          "Something to drink?"

          "Maple syrup." Beryl reaches across the tacky table to grasp Charlotte's hand. "Make that two."

          The waitress scoffs and walks away, as only heartland crones can. The two young women watch her as she tears the order from her pad and impales it on the counter looking into the kitchen. The cook rips it loose and shares a moment with the waitress; they both look over at Charlotte and Beryl.

          "Get anything?"

          "Ava Scott, age fifty-four. Been working here for thirty years. She knows something. You?"

          "She can't remember her social security number without the following mnemonics: 1983, raccoons, flannel sheets, Subaru Forrester. She has a collection of ceramic clowns."

          They both look over at the waitress. She's replaced the frightening mask she uses for out-of-towners with the reassuring hometown warmth smile she reserves for locals. She knows what everyone is having-- everyone who matters. Everyone from Hitch. There's no need to treat travelers with even a modicum of respect. The sign above the front counter, NO TIPPING, dissuades politeness.

          "Think we can extract her?"

          Beryl plays with the cream dispenser. The little lid is a hungry mouth. It vomits white into coffee. Ava Scott hasn't offered them coffee yet. She doesn't want coffee or cream. She wants a robot mouth that shoots fire.

          She nods. "She'll spill."

          "Powder." Charlotte snakes out of the booth and carries the key and its chained log to the door at the back of the diner. LADIES. She wonders if she is. She knows she's not.

          Beryl wonders if she's Thelma. She can't remember which one was Thelma. That was when films were still film. All the old movies have dissolved.

          She slumps lazily down into the padded red booth, plays with the real metal cutlery and real paper napkins jutting from the dispenser. The metal of the fork is thick and strong, not the discount real metal of cafeterias, the forks that bend when wrangling gristle, the spoons so easily contorted with the faintest brush of thought. There are four place settings at the booth, and she sculpts the six unused utensils with a glance, tying spoon and fork, knife and knife. She counts the grains of salt in the shaker. She thinks out and feels Charlotte drying her cunt. She thinks out and feels Ava's hot flash. There is a clatter of plates and she knows it's on purpose. She's the eggs frying. She's the toast Frenching. Five dollars of sausage links.

          Charlotte returns, swinging the keychain like a cudgel. She hops down into the booth, her legs under her. "There was hair on the seat."

          "Nebraska women."

          There are some looks at that remark. The faces are windburned and strong.

          Two twenty-somethings, pierced with metal loops and wearing fashion, 'Pods implanted and clams broadcasting, they don't belong here. They aren't from Hitch. Hitch kids grow up with the corn. Blue jeans and cowboy boots are okay. They don't laugh at country music. They drive pick-ups. Two twenty-somethings of the Privilege, they don't belong here.

          Ava slams plates of deadly comfort food to the table. She's brought two pots of maple syrup. Charlotte and Beryl will have her.

night.blind: 01.11.2: 07 November 2005: Lauren August.

          "How's Roy?" Beryl ventures.

          "Excuse me?" Ava's eyebrows bunch up into a futher frown.


          "What did you say to me, missy?"

          Beryl feigned innocense. How's ROY, Ava? she nearly screamed into the woman's head.

          Ava tottered back on sensible shoes, her apron choosing that moment to unknot and swing free. She dropped her pad, and as she bent down to retrieve it, not sure what to do or say, she saw the pile of twisted stainless cutlery on the table top.

          "You.. You girls want coffee? Sorry I didn't ask before.. I was.. I'm sorry."

          "No thank you," Charlotte warmly intoned.

          "Make it black and make it stat." Beryl bit the tip from thirty three and a third continuing cents of a sausage link.

          Ava wandered away, skipping over her usual rotation of tables directly back to the kitchen counter where the coffeemaker sputter 24/7.

          "Berry!" Charlotte scolded. She hissed conspiratorially. "You can't do that."

          "I can't? Does that mean I can get a normal people job now?"

          "You know what I mean." Charlotte used an unbent spoon to shovel Lucky Charms hungrily into her mouth. "We aren't supposed to get into their heads for fun." That statement was obscured by thirty six grainy shapes and three colored marshmallows, a heart, a moon, a star.

          Beryl finished her first sausage, paused to pinch the grease from her fingertips with a napkin. She pulled fourteen more from the dispenser so she'd be better prepared.

          Ava came back with the coffee pot. She turned Beryl's cup right side up and filled it to the brim. Beryl listened in: How the hell could she know Roy? She the fuckin whore he's been with? She ain't local-- How would she know Roy? That bastard, steppin out on me. And Beryl sent a soothing thought pattern into Ava's subconscious, a nice little program she'd written that focused mainly on kittens and lazy spring afternoons curled up with a good book on a comfortable couch. Ava smiled on the outside as her inside filled up with calm.

          Charlotte approved. She added a negation edge to the pattern: You don't know us, we don't know you, that bitch with the sausages doesn't know Roy, she didn't fuck him, you have nothing to worry about, tell us where the Grissom brothers live, tell us if you've seen any black helicopters, tell us about the caves under Hitch, you're okay, you're alright, and we're going to leave you a good tip, no matter what the sign says. She crunched another mouthful of cereal. Milk dribbled down her chin, and she reached for one of Beryl's fourteen napkins. Beryl slapped her hand away.

          "I'll be back to check in on you in a minute. Need more coffee, let me know."

          "Oh, I don't drink it." Beryl raised the steaming cup to her nose. "I just smell it. Don't you love the smell of coffee? It's like sex, but without the guilt."

          Ava just frowned and walked away.

          "We're having too much fun."

          "With this much sausage, how could we not?"




copyright 2005 Lauren August.
Lauren August:
I am a graduate student of fine arts at Western Michigan University. I'm originally from Corvallis, OR. I don't know how I ended up here, but Michigan is beautiful in places and beautifully desolate in others. I've only been published in the Western Herald, WMU's student newspaper. I've been reading Night Blind since just about the beginning, and I'm excited to be a part of it. I'm a scifi geek girl.