Friday, April 30, 2010

After Hours at the Surf & Turf Express

Wayne lay face down with his fingers interlaced behind his head.

So this is the way it ends?

And the men in masks yelled out commands. They demanded money, more cash. They screamed and yelled and fired bullets into grease-stained ceiling tiles.

Maybe if I could just reach up and grab the fryer basket? Maybe I could toss it into his face? Maybe? No, don’t be stupid. The other dude would just shoot you. But maybe it could create a distraction? Stop it, Wayne! This isn’t a movie!

Wayne heard Jill the cashier whimpering next to him. He knew why she cried. She had a baby at home. She would be wondering if she would ever see her baby again. She wondered who would take care of her baby. But the gunmen ignored her fear. They ignored her tears.

It’s not like the movies. I might die right here, right now. There is nothing here. No hope. No choir of angels. No music. No light. There is only desperation and greed.

One of the men held a gun to the manager’s back. “Unlock the safe!” he demanded. The manager complied. The men took out a black plastic deposit bag. It was thick, but not too thick. It contained perhaps two thousand dollars in assorted bills and change.

So, this is the cost of my life? The cost of all our lives combined? This is all we’re worth? A few thousand dollars? What are dollars? Meaningless. Paper symbols of imagined wealth.

And then the men with guns left. They walked out into the parking lot, leaped into their car, and drove away. Jill’s tears became tears of relief. Wayne stood on shaky feet.

I think I’ve had enough of the fast food biz. I think I’ll take up another line of work. Something safer. Maybe I’ll be a rock star? If nothing else, music will be there with me. I’ll make my own choir.

*Inspired by an actual robbery at Long John Silvers as reported by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips ( Many artistic liberties taken, only bare facts used as inspiration. Soundtrack Recommendation: “Watching the Planets” by The Flaming Lips, from the album Embryonic:*


  1. Oh this was quite good. Liked how you presented the story through Wayne's internal monologue.

    The last paragraph was wonderful.

  2. LOL - he stands to make a lot more "paper symbols of imagined wealth" as a rock star, anyway! Enjoyed the way the short, sharp way the story's told mirrors the brief, traumatic moments of the robbery. Could really feel the staff's relief! Good one.

  3. Okay, this is a nice piece. The ping-ponging from narrative to introspection worked because you balanced it out. Even better you took some creative nonfiction license with ol' boy's experience.

    Like the Flaming Lips, by the way.

  4. As always, nicely done TJ.

  5. Aislin -- You're right. I think he's done considerably better for himself since he left Long John Silvers. :)

    Thanks for all the kind feeback, folks!