The Jar-man by C A Middleton © 2014
It had been a long time since I’d crossed the threshold of such a garish joint. My coulrophobia and allergies to children gripped my legs. These establishments, in my experience, had their fair share of both.
I could feel the cold carving-knife of fear sawing through my guts long before I stepped with caution across the front entrance.
The doors opened as if by their own volition. That was new. I remember the heavy swing doors. At least they gave the patrons a modicum of exercise.
I crossed into the noisy room within, expecting the doors to clamp shut, trapping me like a fly.
I then moved on into the snaking queue, with my heart clattering against my ribs. The faces of the clowns daubed across the walls, and the ankle-biters bombing and screeching around the restaurant like hungry vultures set my teeth on edge. Couple it with the obvious psychology involved in the décor and furniture which screamed, “EAT QUICKLY AND FUCK OFF!” and I felt my knees clack together.
I tried to concentrate on the tinny music blaring from the speakers. But it sounded as if Mickey Rooney had one of his balls in a crocodile’s mouth, the other in the hand of a divorce lawyer and was being made to sing trance for his life. It made the marrow of my bones turn to water. The universe must offer less stressful jobs?
And then I saw her. All my anxieties flushed into the floor.
She didn’t look me in the eye as she lugged the stacked tray to the corner of the seating area, squeezed into two seats, and grazed like a furious wildebeest. Processed food and spittle sprang from her chasm of a mouth, spraying children and tables within ten yards of herself.
The manic world around me receded into yesterday’s nightmare. I left the queue and slid into the seat opposite her. She gave no sign of acknowledging my presence. It suited me.
I looked at my pocket-watch and then my notebook.
The time on the snow-white sheet read, 1324 hrs. The time on my watch told me I had 13 seconds to wait.
Opposite me, the enormous beast of what should be a woman took another burger from a closed box marked “Super-sized Big Mike!” and almost swallowed it whole. A fistful of fries followed without a pause and then two more burgers before the first eight seconds were up.
The second burger did the trick.
As if the plastic excuse for food had taken umbrage for being attacked in such a horrific fashion, it lodged in her rubber-fleshed throat.
She tried to cough. Nothing happened.
Pointless panic crossed her piggy eyes.
I watched the scene unfold, knowing the outcome, but still as fascinated.
Her shaking hands reached for a soda. She ripped off the top and poured the icy beverage straight into her gaping mouth.
It was again pointless.
The drink merely welled up behind the second burger, swished for one hellish moment, and then exited all over her tent of a flowery t-shirt.
She tried to call for help. But, with no voice, the children continued to scream and the parents cried behind their smiles.
After a few moments of clasping at the place where her neck should have sat, a look of resignation spread across her face.
She seemed to shrug, before pitching forward to crunch into the table in front of me, scattering the remainder of her food. I’m sure I could hear an audible sigh from the cleaning staff as her gargantuan arms missed the soda as they flopped down onto the table with a dull “duff!”.
I pulled a jar from the folds of my matt-black long coat and readied the way by undoing the metal lid.
From the bent over burger-whale a beautiful girl stood and stretched.
‘I feel so much better!’ She told me, like we’d known each other since kids.
‘You could’ve looked like that on earth,’ I said her with a cold shrug.
‘If I’d known I’d end up like this anyway, what’s the point?’
‘This is..’ I said and took off the lid.
Within the blinking of an eye the power stored in the jar sucked the lady’s new form inside, squealing at the pressure of the reduction. As they all did.
‘You’ll see the point eventually,’ I told her and then ticked her name off my list.
I stood and with a grateful sigh left the clowns, children and plastic excuses of nourishment, shaking the beautiful lady gnat around in the jar.
She screamed as her head bounced around inside.
Next on the list: a rich, privileged politician with a penchant for prepubescent males.