This will likely be the last short story in the series, unless I get some last minute impulse to write something else while the dressed-up kiddies come around knocking. For this one, I borrowed heavily from a video I watched on Youtube, featuring a guy who just would not shut up and got nailed a few times as a result. I suggest you read the story first and watch the video second, so you can see how I worked the fictional horror into a real-world event.
Oops! Age restricted, so you’ll have to watch on YT.
Runnin’ His Mouth
My name is Nash. I used to be a security guard, up until the governor started up with her goddamned vaccine mandates, and now I’m out of a job. That’s okay. Something else will come along and God will provide for the faithful and all that. I’m not too worried. I’ve been in tougher scrapes than this.
The problem is my girlfriend. Her name is Emma. Most people, when they see their finances shrinking, they’ll cut down on the excess and stick to the bare necessities until they get through the hard times. Not Emma. Back when we were both working, we’d go to the buffet place once or twice a month. When the forced isolation started up… I don’t call them lockdowns because that’s a prison term, but when they started up, all we did was sit around the house watching TV and eating the cupboards bare. It got bad enough for me that I had to move up a notch on my belt. It was worse with Emma. She ballooned up to where she only wears sweatpants now.
When the restaurants opened up again, the first place Emma wanted to go was the Golden Sunrise Buffet. All you can eat for $10.95. There for the taking: Broccoli Chicken, Orange Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, all kinds of chicken. Plus all kinds of meat and seafood, too. And egg rolls dripping with grease. And self serve ice cream.
Problem: About half the women and a third of the men in the neighborhood are fat. A place like Golden Sunrise usually has a herd of black or white bulls and heifers ambling about in big clothes, each and every one of them trying to outdo their neighbor when it comes to emptying plates and glasses of soda. This is not the kind of place I want Emma going to, and especially not three to five times a month like we’re doing now. I’m really starting to question whether or not I want Emma to get as fat as some of the big mommas I’m seeing trying to elbow past me at the buffet line.
That’s what I was thinking of, when Emma brought back her umpteenth plate piled high with fried noodles covering up whatever meat surprise lay underneath. It looked like a swamp: tiny broccoli trees on top, leafy lettuce for the foliage and brown noodles for tree trunks.
“What?” Emma asked.
I like my women plump, but not so fat the meat on their upper arms starts quivering every time they pick up their phone or reach out to open a door. Emma should have stopped at three plates like I did, but no, she was on number five.
“What?” She asked again.
Just as I started to answer, just as I was about to tell Emma to stop eating so much, some kind of commotion started up at the front. Angry voices sprouted up like a loud plague. I sat up straight and tried to look over the heads of other customers and seating partitions.
“Don’t you get into nothing.” Emma said.
“I won’t.” I took to my feet. “I just want to see what’s going on.”
“I’ll be right back.”
I knew what she was getting at. I’d tried to stop a fight at the mall one time. Three punks were jumping two rivals. Just as I got two of them apart, another one sucker-punched me from behind and knocked me out. Both sides got their phones out and took video of me with my eyes wide open, lying on my back. That was my first and only appearance on Worldstar, and I did not want to go through anything like that again.
The dispute was taking place at the cash register. From what I could see, one guy, and only one guy, was agitating two cashiers and several people in line behind him. He was a black guy, caramel-skinned with curly, oily hair. He wore a two-tone shirt, the left half black, the right half tan, with long black sleeves. This guy looked like someone out of an MC Hammer video from back in the day. Even his pants had a loose, baggy cut to them.
“I’m paying for my food, nigguh!” The man told the man standing behind him. “You got a problem with that? You got a problem with that?”
He was cocking his head and glaring. The man behind him was also black, much darker and with a look that said: don’t you fuck with me! But he did; the MC Hammer guy kept running his mouth, agitating everyone around him as if he were a small storm of shit smearing that entire side of the restaurant.
“Nigguh, what’s up?” Hammer threatened. “What’chu gonna do?” He turned and slapped his open palm on the counter three times. “Where is my food? Why is my food not here?”
“Your food is coming!” A white clerk told him. Beside her was an Asian supervisor.
“It’s not supposed to be coming! It’s supposed to be ready when I get here! Why the fuck did I bother calling in my order in the first place?” He slapped at the counter again.
“Why don’t you get in line?” The man behind Hammer growled.
“I’m in a hurry!” Hammer swiveled around to face the man. “My nigguh, I got to go! I got to go! What? What you gonna do? You gonna do something? Do it!”
Hammer pushed the man. The man didn’t take kindly to that and socked him on the jaw. They both started wrestling until cooler heads went to break them up. Me and one other guy pulled back the man who’d thrown the punch. His woman got in front of him, leading him back to the waiting bench at the foyer so he could cool down.
Hammer wasn’t bothered at all. He turned to face the clerk and supervisor and started running his mouth again, slapping at the counter hard enough that the noise probably went all over the joint. “Where is my food, bitches? Where is my food?”
He was in his mid-twenties is my guess. The black woman standing behind him was in her forties, looking as peeved as everyone else; a pouting mother. She wore a dark green sweater and a shawl colored in blue, red and purple, with her hair pulled back into a bun.
“You need to go to the back of the line.” She said.
“You need to shut your ass up!” Hammer snapped at her. “You go to the back of the line, you smelly old heifer!”
In fury, the woman started battering at Hammer‘s arms. He actually took a swing at her, missing her face only because the woman jerked her head back.
Enough was enough. I got between Hammer and the woman at the same time a white man did. The white man had a small, bony face and long, reddish-brown hair, wearing a faded, olive-green army jacket and old jeans.
“You need to leave now.” The white man said. “I mean right now.”
Hammer saw me, but the white man was closer. “Why don’t you leave, nigguh? I ain’t going anywhere until I get my food! You gonna do something about that?”
The white man crossed his arms and stood in Hammer’s way. “You need to leave.”
Hammer kept running his mouth, getting into the man’s face, pushing at him. They managed to throw a couple of blows before they wrestled to the ground. Everyone else made room as they rolled around on the floor, except for me because I tried getting both men to their feet.
“Grab one of his arms.” I told the white guy. “Let’s take him outside.”
We were all standing, trying to turn toward the door, waiting for customers to move out of our way. That’s when Hammer broke free and smacked the white man in the face. They started fighting, with the white guy mad enough to get Hammer into a choke hold. He’d sunk the choke in good, with Hammer gasping for breath and trying to claw the arm off. I thought I’d better get in there and break that up, before Hammer got strangled for his stupidity.
I saw his eyes. Hammer looked like a man just waking up from a bad dream. He looked in all directions, looked at the people standing around him watching, like a fish out of water, like he had no idea how he’d gotten in that position. It was one of the eeriest things I’d ever seen.
I didn’t want him to get killed, regardless. I managed to get the white guy to let Hammer go, and together we hauled him up to his feet. He started spouting off again, talking his shit, but I was looking straight at him now. Hammer’s posture and voice were aggressive, but his eyes showed fear, real fear, as if someone else was using him like a puppet.
“Nigguh, get off me!” He persisted. “I’m not leaving until I get my food, nigguh! I’m not leaving! Na, na, na!”
Hammer started speaking gibberish. He lunged and kicked out at us, but we held him. I was still staring at his face. Hammer looked at me with gaping eyes and mouth. The look he showed me, it was like he was pleading for help. Like he was terrified.
“Where’s my food, nigguh?” Hammer blasted us. “Where’s my food?”
It felt as if two different people were fighting for control of the one body.
“Lord almighty.” Someone said.
I guessed that person had come to the same conclusion I had.
“Get him out before he infects the rest of us!”
We pushed him toward the door. Another man came to help us. A woman opened the door wide and tried to avoid Hammer as much as possible. Hammer set his arms and legs on the frame, fighting to stay inside, fighting to avoid being thrown out. He wouldn’t stop with the profanity, cursing and spitting at all of us.
It took more people to pry his hands off the door frame, before we finally threw him out. Hammer stumbled and fell, but he was right back on his feet again. He screamed at everyone.
“You can’t come in no more!” The white man pointed angrily at him.
Hammer was snarling and threatening to charge at us, when for a second, for a short blink of an eye, his features changed. The man showed fear again, panic at surfacing into a situation he had little control over. Hammer turned and ran through the parking lot, right into the busy street where cars slammed on their brakes to avoid running him over. He slammed his hands onto a car’s hood, as if angry he hadn’t been hurt.
“The police are coming.” The supervisor said, from back at the counter.
I stepped outside with the white man. We both watched Hammer running back and forth in the traffic lanes, trying to get hit by a car, until he went around the corner and we didn’t see him anymore.
“He must be on drugs.” The white man said.
“Yeah.” I nodded, because that was an explanation that made sense, an explanation I could believe. “Drugs.”
Just a crazy guy on drugs, I thought, except for the way his eyes had bulged, and the fear ebbing from them like cold fire. Maybe I had been the only one to see the struggle within that man’s body, but as I walked back into the restaurant, I saw the way a few people were looking at me. They weren’t going to talk about it, but they’d seen it too.
They’d seen it too.