Amy failed to gain the attention of the man who ambled towards the buffet tables. It wasn’t entirely her fault, either. Deft attention from her attempts to be heard and while the man traipsed onward with gluttonous lust. She could tell he heard her. His eyes, black specks under folds of cheeks, darted to her and then forward and Amy knew that glance, that stride proceeded by an annoying smile that gnawed her patience. It wasn’t from lack of trying; or at least that is what she will tell her manager when this customer—a gargantuan who was both bulbous and menacing with size and speed—went for seconds without even finishing his first plate.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said again with a voice that trembled with annoyance. “You’ll have to pay extra for not finishing your first plate.”
He grunted something and Amy guessed it was a disregard to Putnam’s Pit and Smoke policy.
“Sir, please,” she tried once more. “Can you stop for a moment?”
The threshold separating dining room from serving station was breached and all Amy could do was trail behind as the man continued to ignore her requests. How she hated the lack of recognition. The blood raised within her like raising magma ready to lurch from an active volcano. Her forefinger twirled with a yanking motion at strands of hair that escaped her ponytail. She wanted to scream.
Then, she stopped.
Oh no she thought with sudden fear Bill looks pissed today. Acknowledgment sunk in at the imminent verbal lashing she would receive as her boss motioned with a short wave that beckoned in frustration. Her steps looped between children clamoring towards the dessert bar and their parents’ cacophony of concerns; don’t take too much and you’ll rot your teeth sung from behind. She stepped behind the server’s station and to Bill Putnam’s presence.
“Amy, what the hell is going on? Why are you touching your hair on the floor?” His gruff tone was merciless. “Your customers are asking for you—do I need to serve them, or can you do the job?”
“I am sorry Bill, but I saw this man,” she turned and pointed to her customer who tonged ribs high atop his plate, “leave his plate of brisket and sides barely touched. I tried explaining the rules to him but he just ignored me. It wasn’t from lack of effort, trust me. I’ll get right back to my section.”
His furled brow relaxed and clenched teeth broke into a reassuring smile, easing Amy’s palpable nerves that tensed her core like full-body restraints. Bill’s touch was honest with appreciation and he squeezed Amy’s shoulder, looking down at her sapphire eyes.
“Thank you,” he said. “You always follow the rules and for that I want you to give those customers a free dessert round on the house. I’ll take it from her, Amy. You did good.”
Amy did as he said. She scurried away with her diligence rewarded and Bill approached the man. He pushed his wiry frame upwards, standing tall but still meager compared to the troublesome lunch guest.
“Sir,” said Bill. “I don’t take kindly to those ignoring my servers. I may just have to ask you to square the bill and leave.”
The man gave Bill Putnam the same recognition as he did with Amy.
“Did you hear me, sir? I don’t want any trouble.”
“I heard ‘ya, but know there is no need to throw around empty threats,” said the man with a low, nonchalant twang. “I haven’t even found what I like yet.”
Chubby hands brought hot ribs to the man’s slobbering mouth and his lips smacked, spewing grease and bits of meat over the sneeze guard. A couple dawdled away while their mutters of disgust lingered.
“I’ll have none of that, sir. Best you leave now.”
The man dumped the remainder of his plate to the floor and grabbed handfuls of boned-in chicken breasts. Bill attempted to intervene and was slapped with a quick, sticky palm across the face that sent him straight to the carpeted floor. Silence seized the buffet section and crept into the dining area like frozen twilight.
“Someone call the cops on this psycho,” Bill ordered to whoever would listen while standing to his feet. “Goddamn asshole just assaulted me.”
A lackluster toss sent the pan of sauced fowl aside and Bill felt himself shrink at the sight before him. The man began to grow. It was a subtle shift underneath stretched polo and blue cargo shorts followed by a sound like someone churning butter with horrendous pulls and pushes of the plunger. He grabbed a half-pan that overflowed with charred steaks and angled the metallic tip of the corner to his mouth, jerking and jerking forward as crisp bovine fell into his mouth.
Then he dropped the pan in his mouth. Bill Putnam cowered to the crunch as the man transformed into an abhorrent creature.
“Not bad,” said the monster. “Now let’s have some of this.”
Clothes shredded and sucked in, disappearing within grotesque flaps of skin scoured pink. The features of a human—arms, legs, head, shoulders, and belly—massed in obese standards that defied all mortal logic; nightmares would surely falter to portray the abomination witnessed today. Putnam’s Pit and Smoke erupted into a dissonance of screams and those that could flee, tried. Resistance was met by otherworldly shackles as the creature’s form sprouted lengths of demonic flesh that arrested all within.
First to go was Bill Putnam. He was chewed up and spat out like a cut of overcooked meat.
It didn’t matter who fell next, as every patron of Putnam’s Pit and Smoke perished. Lumps of gnarled half-eaten remains littered about the restaurant in bloody piles that gushed and oozed bodily remnants.
And the man vanished, still hungry for more.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017
I often put much on my plate. It is wasteful, as my attention span can only handle so much at any one point. I have started a number of projects in the past and have either grown tired of them or became bored within a short amount of time. The one constant between both of these situations is my daily struggle to finish a task before I start a new one.
ADHD can be a cruel mistress sometimes.
I feel like the man at the buffet. I sample something, enjoy the flavors, and move on to the next tasty dish without much thought of my stomach’s capacity. I just eat and eat and eat to never finish any of the meals that I begin. The man ate a small portion just to satisfy the curiosity of what it actually tastes like.
That is me, sometimes. I’ll come to an idea that I want to put down into words. The idea will excite me; at first, they’re always like this to me. Then my fervor and lust for the process takes hold until the periphery of my goal is shadowed. I tune in on only the idea.
But something happens along the way. Something terrible and shambling. Unspeakable, even.
I get Distracted Again.
In a previous story I wrote about a test subject that deals with distractions to a point–
I am going to drop some spoilers here, so be warned. Go read it if you haven’t. I’ll fill in a few lines of text so that I can give the reader time to backtrack. I’ll take this time to see how everyone is.
And how is everyone?
If you respond with ‘Good!’, then I know you’re a liar, as your exclamation was misdirected from the monstrosity emerging from the shadows of your room. It is formless and towers over the canopy frame of your great-grandmother’s bed that was gifted to you from family long seen. The thing shuffles with a pace–
–we’re going back to the afterthought now–
that consumes his body and he expires within the maze that is his room. The walls of this maze are no taller than his waist and provided Subject 32 a scope of it’s entirety. The stations within–or Variables–that he faced are ones that I know very well.
Any electronic with shit flying around on the screen gets me every time.
And so does that snowbank outside my window. Man that is high.
And so does that noise I hear downstairs in my house. Is it the washer? Or the dryer? No, I folded the clothes and there is no more laundry.
It’s the stove! I wonder if the cookies are done.
I think I am having leftovers for dinner.
Electronics are my big culprits, but as you can see, anything and everything distracts me. Maybe it’s my generation (probably) or my lack of self-control (this would also make sense) that mixes with my ADHD, but I find myself easily distracted. It’s hard to manage, and often my frail thoughts are shattered from a crippling strike.
I sometimes feel like Subject 32. I’ve always ate and taken care of my well-being, but I sometimes lose interest in the daily motion that is life.
I want to specify, as that last sentence is absolutely grim and brings about a number of red-flags. I am speaking of activities of living and interacting with others. That stuff. Now put the phone down–no need to exaggerate things here.
I also picture myself as the scientists, looking in and observing the repeat trends made. I know what I can do to alter the outcomes and all I can ever do is improve ever so slightly. And you know what, that is just fine. All I can ask of myself is that I make progress once and awhile. Subject 32 is that part of me that never wanted to continue forward and actually try. He is that part of me that accepted that things can’t change and that he should embrace–no, settle–with the now without making that effort. That’s the part of me that gives me nightmares.
And I live with him every day; through thick, thin, and those frigid places between.
John Potts Jr