The Marinara Gauntlet - The Inkwell Flash Fiction Contest


"Doreen, if your eyes bulge anymore they are going to pop right out of your skull!"

"Shut it, Mavis! I ain't never seen the likes in all my days is all."

"Well, it ain't polite to stare, you know that."

This day was ratcheting up from bad to worse, Rebecca thought and those two old biddies weren't helping matters any.

"It's okay, everybody just stand back and give him some room, I got it," she replied.

Ten seconds earlier, the diner was a scene of domestic normality. Gerald and the Bombastic Bunch were perched atop the red vinyl bar seats, sipping coffee and reliving their glory days. To think, only a breath ago she had been annoyed by hearing Buddy Corvallis bellow, "In 72' I dropped that buck the size of your Datsun, Gerry, and you're still smarting you missed him, ain't ya!"

Just as Rebecca had served a piping hot dish of spaghetti and meatballs to the stranger in a red flannel shirt, an odd choice for breakfast she had thought at the time, it had burst through the door.

As the glass door slammed open, Rebecca caught the spruce green eyes of the man in the red flannel shirt. They widened in surprise and a hint of anticipation tinged his irises, although those eyes were quickly forgotten as she whirled around to see what had caused the ruckus.

A massive buck stood in the doorway of the diner. That alone would have been weird enough, but this buck was, well, different. Instead of the soft doe brown that all deer tend to be, this one was shades of blue. His shaggy coat was the color of the Irish sky and sea, a fact Rebecca knew from a trip to that lovely country to visit her great aunt three years prior.

The massive horned beast stamped its feet off of the black and white vinyl linoleum floor and gave a triumphant snort. The man in the red flannel shirt shifted behind her, and before Rebecca could move, the blue beast charged towards her.

Hollers and cries broke out like a horror movie soundtrack around her as the big buck charged right by her, the blonde strands of her ponytail whipping as she whirled with him in a dance of terror and adrenaline. The buck slid to a stop right in front of the man in the red flannel shirt and for the slightest break in time, they beheld each other.

Suddenly, the buck dipped its shaggy cerulean head, hooked the man's plate of steaming spaghetti with its horns, and flipped the entire thing at him before bounding away.

We watched the spaghetti slide down the wall.

"Are you okay?" Rebecca breathed to the man in red, handing him the towel she kept tucked in her pink and black apron.

"Hades no he ain't okay, Bec! That spirit buck just marked him! He's a dead man walking!"

"Shut it, Vern," Rebecca replied as she grabbed napkins from the chrome dispenser on the worn, spaghetti-covered table in front of her.

A lone chuckle bubbled into the silence. The man in the red flannel shirt began laughing as he plucked spaghetti from his coarse brown hair. The deep and rhythmic cadence of his laughter filtered through the diner like a pied piper's tune and soon everyone was guffawing like they had collectively breathed in nitrous oxide.

"Well, I do believe that was a challenge, don't you?" the red flannel man drawled in his delicious baritone, "At least the sauce matches my shirt." he quipped.

He then stood up, tossed a twenty dollar bill on the table, and stalked out the still open diner door.

And as most of the time, the image in this post was taken on the author's spaghetti free and somewhat saucy iPhone.

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