Excerpt from The Last Flag
The place seemed full, but the herd of obese diners that waddled quickly to and fro seemed to vanish off and on. He’d look and there wasn’t anyone around. He’d look again and the place was full. The patrons ate with gigantic, white, square teeth that were only possible in a dream and he heard their teeth scrape forks and bones, saw the food stains on the white enamel with insane, hyper-detailed clarity. The retro style diner booth he sat in was comfortable and he sank in the red fake leather cushions as the chrome details of the napkin holders reflected the cold hard light. He picked up the menu but it didn’t help much, as every time he read it the text changed, and in the end he just knew to order the Super Big Boy Winter Deluxe Supreme.
The waitress managed to be motherly and sexual, a brunette and a blonde, fat but at times slender, she delivered a plate that took most of the table’s surface. Half of it was loaded with waffles and pancakes, with and without toppings. The other half was covered with omelettes, eggs over easy and scrambled, potatoes and bacon, sausages and hash. His hollow guts growled with anticipation. The food steamed in the cold air and fogged all the windows. God, this is amazing, he thought. If only it wasn’t so damn cold. So cold.
Cagey, he looked over his shoulder; sure someone would come and take his food from him. And with a spike of fear he saw that they were all staring back at him: the waitresses, the cooks, the customers. They watched him like a hawk, while they chewed air like their life depended on it. Jaws muscles bulged and worked under the smiling faces—bulged and worked, the sound getting louder. He better hurry up and eat, he had to get out! He snapped back to his plate and dug in, shoving food into his mouth, an amazing forkful of pancake, bacon and fruit, slathered in real hot maple syrup. He had had to unhinge his jaws like a boa to fit it all in. His audience clapped and chewed louder in admiration. From the corner of his eye he saw cameras. They would love him worldwide. He snapped down his unhinged jaws…
…on a mouthful of cold air and pain. Theo came awake with a yelp, stiff and confused his muscles tight from the cold.
“Ith mah thongue. Owww,” he complained softly and sat up with the taste of blood in his mouth. The earliest of morning light filtered through the windows as he got his bearings, confused he realized that the chewing noises had followed him from his dream and for one crazy second he happily thought that the large breakfast had too. Still groggy from sleep, he turned toward the noise.
Alvin. Busy at Eliza’s neck, stared back at him…