#37 It’s a Question of Where You Really Are

#37 Question of Where You Really Are - Mysterious old diner under sea of stars for

Norm sat nervously in the booth looking around at the odd collection of extremely strange people who had sat down since he’d ordered his breakfast. Terror was coursing through him but he was unable to move, frozen in place by his obligation to not run out on the nice girl who had taken his order. And he didn’t really want to draw attention to himself as he’d never seen people like this before. The man sitting two booths over was wearing a crisp black suit and had a mass of black smoke for a head. It wasn’t quite clear where the coffee he was drinking was going, given the lack of discernable mouth, or face for that matter. There was a tall pale looking man over in the corner who never stopped eating pie…..with hot sauce? He wasn’t quite sure what the hell was happening but Norm felt like he’d fallen through a trapdoor in reality. The kind of feeling that makes you question where you really are.

Just breathe, he told himself, remain calm. No need to panic. There was probably some perfectly reasonable explanation for what was happening. Maybe this place is one of those new-fangled theme restaurant experiences he was reading about the other day in the newspaper. But he didn’t remember anybody building a diner, surely he would have remembered that, he had driven this way plenty of times before. He must have overlooked it. Norm began to wonder where they had got an old diner car so wide. The old train car was easily twice the width of a normal train car and the train tracks it ran on would have been enormous and well beyond anything he was aware of. Everywhere he looked there was glistening chrome and burgundy leather. Something was off about the interior but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Look at this!” said a cheerful little girl with bright blue eyes as big as saucers who had suddenly appeared next to him. The little girl held out her hands and turned them over back and forth to show that there was nothing in her hands. Her moves were graceful and precise as she clasped her hands together, one on top the other, as she made a low humming sound. She then pulled her top hand away to reveal a shiny red dragonfly nestled in her palm. The strange little girl then carefully blew into her hand causing the dragonfly to take off into the air and race out the front door just as a curious fellow with distinctly frog-like features came through the front door.

“You try now,” she said while reaching out to grab his hands and hold them together as she began humming again. Norm could feel something stirring between his palms as a cold chill shot through him. Every hair on his body was standing end as he opened his hands to reveal a tiny green dragonfly which flew up to land on the girl’s shoulder.

“How did….,” stammered Norm as a mix of fear and awe threatened to capsize his consciousness.

“You almost got it, keep practicing,” she sang with a smile as she ran off to release the dragonfly outside.

Fear now firmly had it’s grip on Norm as he attempted to drink coffee with shaking hands while he watched the thin man eat another piece of pie. The sense of unreality had reached a fever pitch when the pretty blond waitress, who reminded him of a silver screen bombshell, sat down a massive stack of pancakes in front of him. As she walked away he hoped she hadn’t seen his hands shaking. He just needed to calm down and eat some breakfast. The sun was barely peaking up over the horizon as he looked out the massive windows and began eating the greatest pancakes he’d ever eaten in his entire life. He quickly forgot about his troubles and was momentarily consumed by the borderline erotic experience the pancakes were causing in his brain. Norm had never had pancakes quite like this and he hardly noticed as the bell sounded on the front door again. There must be some kind of magic pancake machine back there he thought.

Norm thought about ordering another stack, despite feeling like he had already eaten too much, when a dark haired man sat down nearby. What struck him immediately was that the man’s clothes were all on inside-out. The tag of his sweater and inner seams of his pants were clearly visible. Who would leave the house dressed like that he thought while trying to resist the almost uncontrollable urge to order more breakfast. What a curious place this is. There was a gentle humming off in the distance which he found soothing. The smoke headed man didn’t seem so scary now that he’d eaten and he didn’t mind if people here were a little strange. He’d found a new place to get pancakes and that’s all that mattered right now. Wait until the guys back at the lodge hear about this place.

The waitress had seated herself in the booth across from the man with the inside-out clothes who appeared to be telling her a story. He seemed agitated and was anxiously pointing out the window. What Norm saw next absolutely stunned him. That feeling of fear he had earlier was climbing on him like a giant spider now. The world outside the window was no longer his own. In the middle of the parking lot, which wasn’t there a minute ago, was a tall woman with black hair who was covering her left eye while pacing back and forth. She was talking into a small rectangular device she was holding to the side of her head. It looked like some kind of futuristic hand radio. Norm was going to start screaming but then he started to think about getting a slice of that pie he saw the other man eating. If the pie is half as good as the pancakes this is going to be his new favorite place to eat.

Norm was too busy waving at the waitress to notice the blue-eyed little girl standing next to the dark haired woman in the parking lot. If he had been paying attention he would have seen her perform another one of her magic tricks as the world outside the windows received another dragonfly. He didn’t notice the dark-haired woman wandering off in a severe state of confusion either. Nope. There was one thing on his mind and it was blueberry pie. The waitress must have sensed this because she stopped her conversation with inside-out man, cocked her head thoughtfully, and then walked over to the cooler to retrieve a piece of blueberry pie covered in whipped cream which she sat down in front of Norm. He quickly forgot about not ordering it to begin with. He was too busy eating to notice.

He would describe the parts he could remember later to his wife after waking up in his own bed quite suddenly. Norm didn’t remember the car trip home or going to bed for that matter. She told him to go back to sleep and that he had been in bed all night. He found that impossible to believe and decided to get up and make some coffee instead of lying awake in bed for the rest of the night. The brightness of the bathroom light was almost painful as he stared into the mirror trying to come to grips with what he’d just seen. He could still taste that blueberry pie and would swear, if you asked him later, that his lips were even a little blue. But Norm had forgotten all about that pie and the diner when he stopped to help the pretty girl with big blue eyes jump start her car. It made him late for work, but he didn’t notice, he was too thinking about the big metal pipe that had crashed off a truck into the intersection he drove through every day. Good thing nobody was hurt.

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