Meatloaf and Mayhem at Priscilla’s Roadside Diner

by Craig Hartranft on October 31, 2015

in Crime Fiction, Fiction, Mystery and Suspense, Story Ideas

{ This idea came to me from my love of cooking, notably my recipe for classic American meatloaf. A lovely blend of three meats. The start didn’t even grace one page, but I liked the idea. Returning to it, like often happens when I write, I didn’t know where it would go. After a day of writing, I found Rimmon to be evil, really evil. Psychopath evil. Then I thought: small space, localized universe, a small group of players, and one psychopath. Maybe I was channeling some Stephen King. Why not? }

Inside a Diner

“How’s the meatloaf,” Kinley asked Rimmon, the man looking for a good meal and a place to sleep. Kinley would cover the first right now, the other in time. The large man, in worn gray overalls topped by a road weary canvas duster, scooped another piece of the loaf to his mouth.

For Kinley, the meatloaf was the best thing on the menu, the go-to diner dinner for the hungry man, day or night. It was made with a combination of lean beef, pork, and veal. The proper portions were half, one quarter, one quarter of each meat, respectively, with those special ingredients that bind everything together and make every slice tasty. Served with a sauce of cider vinegar and ketchup. Some brown sugar in there too.

Kinley was sure of it, though Priscilla never divulged more than the meat combination . It was his favorite item the Priscilla’s menu. Side of mash. Side of peas. Push them all together, if you wanted to be hillbilly hungry. Whatever. Give him a glass with two ounces of Rebel Yell bourbon, small dash of water, and Kinley might even go for a second helping. Damn, he loved Priscilla’s meatloaf.

 

It seems his new friend Rimmon liked it, too.

“Well?”

“Well what?” Rimmon said. He had two more bites with mash potatoes on top.

“You like it?”

“Yeah.”

His response surprised Kinley. What the hell was wrong with this guy? Give the guy a ride and a free meal of the best meatloaf in Custer County, hell, east of the SusQ River, and all he says is, yeah.

“Man of few words,” said Kinley.

“Was that a question or a statement?” Rimmon said reaching for his bottle of Budweiser. He swigged and turned to Kinley. There was a slight smidgen of mashed potato on his mustache.

“More of an observation, friend,” Kinley.

“Just wanted to eat in some peace. Haven’t had a good meal in a day or two. Probably more.”

“Well, you’re wearing some of it too.” Kinley rubbed above his upper lip and nodded to Rimmon. “You got some mash there.”

The large man rubbed his moustache with the paper napkin. Kinley was surprised he didn’t use his hand. He said, “Thanks.”

“It’s nothing. Listen. I’m gonna hit the head.”

“I’ll be here.” He gulped at his Bud again as Kinley rose. He said to him, “You mind if I have some pie and coffee?”

“Not at all.” He cast a nod to Alice, the counter waitress. Kinley said, “Give him whatever else he wants. My tab.” He moved on to the bathroom. Alice strolled to Rimmon.

“What pie would you like? We got peach, apple, some apple rhubarb, and key lime, though that’s mostly fake key lime stuff,” she said, chewing on a piece of mint Trident. “Oh yeah. I think we got a piece or three of lemon meringue, too.”

Rimmon looked up from his plate, with a bit of loaf and mash remaining, and said, “I haven’t finished my plate yet. Not ready for dessert.”

“That’s just fine. I could get it for you awhile, if you like,” she said.

Rimmon said nothing, just looked at her as she tapped on her order pad. She was a tall girl, late twenties, with blonde hair pulled up, but bangles hanging at each temple. Her skirt was short, her white sweater, tight and thin.

Rimmon said, “You’re a pretty girl.”

“I get that a lot,” she replied shifting the gum to the other side of her mouth. “You want pie or not, fella.”

Rimmon sat up straight at her tone and stared hard at her. Alice flinched, her shoulders falling back as she felt herself wanting to take a step backward. He said to her, “Apple. With some black coffee.”

“Sure.” Alice turned quickly on her heels and walked quickly to the triple tier pie carousel and the Bunn coffee dispensers at the far end of the diner counter. As she did, she heard him say, “You wear to much make up.”

She didn’t stop walking, yet still muttered, “Asshole.”

Kinley emerged from bathroom to find Bernice, the waitress working the booths on the outside perimeter of the Priscilla’s Roadside Diner, waiting for him. It was a slow night. Mondays always were. She only had a few tables to tend to. A teenage couple, having fries and milkshakes. Two over the road truckers eating burgers and downing their third Cokes for the caffiene and the long night ahead. And Ms. Mosley in a booth, one away and downwind from Rimmon.

Ten years older than Alice, and working at the dinner since she was fourteen, Bernice was short and round, her girth measured from the top of her chest through the thickness of her thighs. Her hair was dark and short, and she had a perpetual pencil tucked behind her right ear. She liked those soft paperback word search books that they sold across the street at Lucky Dan’s Grocery and Ammo.

“Your new friend stinks, Kinley,” she said to him.

“Yeah. He does have an odor about him.”

“Some of the other diners have noticed.”

“If you mean that snotty old Ms. Mosley, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass. She’s always whining about something or someone, and it’s usually always somebody not in her presence.”

“Yeah, well. She’s a regular.”

“Regular pain in the ass, you mean. You know it. Comes in here three four times a week in the evening, orders her dry white toast with marmalade, black Ooo-long tea, reads her National Enquirer, and then tips you a quarter for your trouble.”

“So she does. I’m a waitress. I have to put up with a lot of shit, twenty-four-seven, including yours Martin Kinley.” He grinned broadly hoping to take some edge off her.

Bernice managed a smile. “Can you just get him out of here and on his way. Like sooner than later, before Mosley does or says something stupid to him.”

She cast an eye to seventy-something widow with a tight gray bun of hair on her head and her pink blouse buttoned up to her chin. A small gold cross dangled on her chest.

Kinley followed her eyes, but turned back to Bernice and said. “I will, but the man’s hungry and tired. I found him on 88 about ten miles outside of town walking at a snail’s pace and carrying some crusty heavy looking backpack … he remembered the previous hour …

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