TOF: The Truth About Fiction #5
Michael D Friedman
mdfriedman at gmail.com
Tue Jun 2 10:17:25 PDT 2015
TALES OF FICTION presents...
THE TRUTH ABOUT FICTION
ISSUE #5: "A Cup of Joe"
Written by Michael D Friedman
PREVIOUSLY: Austin Allen is driving to Fiction, Nevada to see his newly inherited estate for the first time, and also to understand what his dead parents are doing alive on the cover of the tabloid newspaper he now owns. Along the way, he's met Jamal Runningbear, an ex-NBA star on a vision quest, with a goldfish. Oh, and then there's the weird bald guys in the diner...
"It is him! Joe, it is him! Behold, the grandson, our savior!"
The two weird bald guys run up to me at the counter. They both stare at me with very weird grins. Like I said, these guys are WEIRD, man. They both have matching track suits and they both call each other Joe... way too often.
"Joe, can you believe it?" says one.
"I can't, Joe! What a glorious day," says the other.
"Can I help you?" I ask, in that tone that usually means 'I don't want to be bothered.'
They don't get the subtle vocal inflection.
"Brother Joe and I can't believe it. Is it really, you?"
"Are you Austin Allen?"
"Yes," I sigh. And I get it. These are the "Josephists" I've heard so much about. They are a cult, plain and simple. And they worshipped my father as a god-like leader. I guess that makes me God, the Third.
"You are. Joe, I told you it was him."
"Yes you did, Brother Joe."
Jamal slowly backs away from the situation. I guess things have finally gotten too weird for the ex-NBA superstar carrying a fish on his vision quest. Yeah, I'm the weird one. I'm starting to get a repetitive use injury from rolling my eyes so much.
"Are you coming into town, Austin Allen?"
"Will you come by the mansion, Austin Allen?"
"Can you give a speech, Austin Allen?"
Oddly enough, that's not me. It's my lovely Peliculas, slamming a coffee pot on the counter so hard it shatters.
"What I tell you about harassing my customers?" she yells.
"A dozen pardons, Ms. Peliculas, we meant no harm," one of the Joes says, bowing incredulously like a scolded puppy.
The two retreat to the door.
"No more recruiting in my diner!" Peliculas yells. "Now git!"
The two Joes hurriedly run out the door, while saying. "Please come by the Mansion, Austin Allen. We have many preparations to make anyway! Blessed be, Joe!"
They both pile into a SmartCar and peel out of the parking lot. Well, as much as a SmartCar can "peel out."
"Freakin' weirdos," says our waitress, calming down by stroking a stray hair from off her face. Her beautiful, gorgeous, lovely face...
I start to daydream...
"You gonna eat that?"
I wake up from a bit of a daze, with Jamal hovering over my bacon.
"Huh? No, I'm full," I reply.
Peliculas gives me a smile across the counter. She leans over and pours me a new cup of coffee.
"You're gonna need it," she says.
"You've been kind of zoned out for the last few minutes," she smiles again. "The road will do that to you. Do you have a long way to go?"
"Depends," I say. "How far away is Fiction?"
Suddenly the smile drops from her face.
"You don't want to go to that place."
"Nothing good comes from that place," she says. "You saw those crazy men in here earlier, going on and on about Joe this and Joe that. Who the hell is this Joe person?"
I'm kind of in love with the way she says "Joe." Somehow, she inserts and "h" and there and it comes out like "Jhoe." Crap, I'm getting distracted again.
"It's all of them, I think," I take a sip of coffee. "Or, they are all one Joe or something. I can't remember."
Jamal grabs a half eaten English muffin off my plate and starts tearing pieces off into the goldfish bowl.
"You guys aren't one of them, is you?" Peliculas says as she begins to get a little bit more defensive.
I try to calm the situation. Obviously, she's had some trouble with these guys in the past. More than just bugging customers at her restaurant.
"So then, why do you go to Fiction?"
"I, uh, sort of own the newspaper there?" I say meekly, waiting to get hit.
Peliculas is as giddy as a little schoolgirl now.
"You own _The World News Weekly_?!"
"Yeah," I grimace.
"I love that paper!"
Suddenly, Peliculas has become less attractive to me.
So, there's this imploding buffalo that I mentioned a while back. At the time, I didn't realize it had happened. In fact, no human being on planet Earth realized that it had happened. Heck, the buffalo didn't even realize that it happened.
That same buffalo was very aware of its existence when it reconstituted several months later, in the middle of Route 721, exactly halfway between Peliculas' diner and the town of Fiction, Nevada.
This buffalo thought to itself, "Wow. That was odd. I wonder where I am? What are those lights in the distance? Why are they suddenly getting much brighter?"
The buffalo wouldn't have to think about it much longer. Right before impact, he saw the SmartCar logo, then two bald men screaming as they flew through the window, and then nothing else...
(c) 2015 Michael D Friedman.
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