Melissa Destiny

Friday, February 11, 2005

Chapter 2.4

“So, Suky, what should I get? Recommend for me. This is such a cool place; it looks so much like a barn.” Melissa was ahead of Lee and Suky, leaping over an oily puddle in the parking lot. The side of the barn-like building read, “You Might Consider Giving Some Serious Thought To Thanking Your Lucky Stars That You’re In Texas” in red letters on a white background, above the Goode Company logo in even larger red letters. Beneath the logo was a thick red line on which the letters seemed to be resting.

“That red line beneath the letters makes me think of a big, wet, red hungry tongue. I love how everything is red; it’s like the house of bovine blood. I guess I knew they wouldn’t have soy options; between you and me Lee, I guess I was interested in transgressing my usual dietary rules, since Dave’s not here to ride herd on me, or put his spurs on me, or however you would express that here in Texas.”

Lee was busy lifting Suky over the oily puddle. As he set the little robot down, Suky began to answer Melissa’s question: “Moist smoked duck and chicken lean toward oiliness, but thick, sweet-spicy-smoky barbecue sauce is in a class by itself, transforming the brisket into a real delicacy. Sides such as potato salad and coleslaw aren't Hall of Famers, but the soft homemade jalapeño cornbread is a star player. . . That was the most critical on-line review I found in my initial search, so I assumed it would be the most useful. Would you like me to quote from some reviews that are entirely positive and praise all the food equally?”

“That’s OK,” Melissa replied. “So I guess I should avoid birds.”

“My question when I look at these kinds of slogans,” said Lee, gesturing at the restaurant, “is what exactly is supposed to be so great about Texas? I mean, in this case it’s implied the barbeque is good, but what beyond that? The people aren’t that different from Midwesterners. The big empty spaces are similar to big empty spaces in the Midwest. The stars are just as lucky whatever state you’re in. I mean, I’m from here sort of, but I just feel kind of alienated always by these displays of local pride. Although I guess I am doing what the sign says, giving it some serious thought. . .”

“There’s nothing in Texas but steers and queers,” said Suky. “And you two are going to eat some of one of those. Melissa! I made a clever witticism by relating a relevant local saying to a contemporaneous narrative situation. Are you proud of me?”

“You two are really very similar,” said Melissa, holding the glass door open for them. She and Lee each picked up a yellow plastic tray and began to follow the other patrons toward a row of servers in white uniforms who would spoon out the meat and veggies onto variously-sized plates. The smell of the sugary barbeque sauce mixed with the piercing scent of meat so tender it could almost melt. . . Melissa felt a little intoxicated by it, as well as simultaneously a little put off. I better not eat too much meat, she thought, I haven’t been eating it, and I don’t want to make myself sick.

“That’s actually an Austin saying,” Lee was telling Suky. “Austin has a very large gay community.”

“I heard that saying before from a transsexual woman in L.A.,” said Melissa. “We were getting tested for HIV at the same place, at this roving van that happened to be in the parking-lot of the supermarket closest to my house. I had to get tested because of some umm. Anyway, everyone was negative, which made us all feel really positive. She was a nice girl; she seemed sad that she couldn’t have kids and said that men are such bastards and she looked very convincing. And she said that about Texas. She was from Austin or near Austin. She wore too much pancake make-up, just like a real small-town girl from Texas, like your friend, you know, who took all the pills. I mean, that could describe a few of your friends, but you know about the too-much-make-up thing, how she did it, layered it on, like with a trowel, no offense, whereas in California less is more.”

“I think you’re talking about Sue,” said Lee. “I think I’ll have the chopped beef on a bun; I hope that’s not too messy. You’ll tell me if I’ve got sauce dripping in my beard, right?”

“My God,” said Melissa, “then you’d look just like a Viking on a big date, except you’re a little unathletic to be a Viking. You could be one of the Vikings who spent their time describing to the boss-Vikings how supremely tough they were. You could have sung fancy songs to the butch Vikings.”

“Hey! I’m butch! This beard captures the macho of an ‘old man of the woods.’ ‘Old men of the woods’ are studs!”

“You are the most rustic of cuties babe.” Melissa turned her attention to ordering: “Can I have two jalapeno breads?”

Just then, a blond man with a long blond beard in a bizarrely shiny blue-and-silver uniform (variously sized silver stars on a blue background seemed to grow and shrink slightly as he moved) took two metal objects out of a brown fanny-pack, screwed them together, and began to shoot people. The gun-thing made very little noise, only a tiny “phut,” but when it hit someone that person froze totally still, without falling, and then massive quantities of blood began to hemorrhage out of their mouth, nose, and eyes, as if their insides had suddenly stiffened so much that all the blood was being forced out of them. As the shooting started, Suky put one hand on Melissa’s right leg and one hand on Lee’s left leg and pulled violently, causing them to fall almost instantly flat on their backs on the floor. Both of them hit their heads, and so neither saw the next few seconds in which Suky leapt through the air to attack the blond killer. There was a scream and a sound like a chainsaw and blood fountained in every direction through the restaurant.

Melissa waited on the floor, terrified, with her right hand over Lee’s chest to stop him from getting up (which was not something he was tempted to do, actually). She waited, counting to herself, “One-one-hundred, two-one-hundred, three-one-hundred.” No one else was being shot. The blood in the air must have been the killer’s. At “twenty-three-one-hundred” she couldn’t take it anymore and jumped to her feet. She was the only living person standing in the restaurant. About ten dead patrons were standing frozen, with their own blood spilled all down their faces, shirts, and pants. Neither Suky nor the blond-bearded killer were anywhere in sight.



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