Posts Tagged ‘cafe’

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 19, 2013

Pie1

Leland’s Love Jitters

(Episode 51)

            Leland, meanwhile, was having his own problems.  He had tried asking Agent Hailey out.  He had begun, “Agent Hailey?”

“Yes,” she said.

“I was won…”

Leland looked at Agent Hailey.  She was all tired efficiency.   The poor thing was just worn out, he could tell, and probably held upright by her stiff uniform.  They’d all been pushing themselves pretty hard.

“Gee, you look bushed.  We need a night off,” he declared finally.

“Serial killers don’t take nights off,” Agent Hailey replied.

“Well, we don’t know that, do we?  And they certainly should,” Leland declared.

Agent Hailey just looked at him.  He thought she might be going to say something dismissive, but instead, she fell asleep.   Just as she opened her mouth, she fell directly forward, her head stuck in Leland’s stomach.  She was out like a light, snoring briskly.

 

            Leland rousted Ramey out of the cell and lay Agent Hailey on the bunk.  Then he turned off the light and shut the inside door so that she could get some uninterrupted sleep.

When Agent Hailey awoke it was about 6 pm, and Leland suggested they get some dinner at the Café “…across the way, and then maybe catch some of the local culture.  What do you think?”  He added, his eye twitching.

Agent Hailey looked around the darkened cell, and then at Sheriff Leland groggily, like a child being awakened in the depths of the night and told they had to leave right away for ‘somewhere’.  “Okay,” she mumbled.

But she wasn’t entirely present until around twenty minutes later when she studied, with some of her old presence, the crowd in the Café and the meatloaf, potatoes with homemade gravy which had been placed before her.  “What’s with the crowd?”  Agent Hailey asked.

“They’re gathering for Culture Night,” Leland responded.

“Sheriff Kelly.  May I call you ‘Leland’?”  Agent Hailey asked.

“I wish you would.”  Leland smiled.

“Leland,” Agent Hailey began again, licking some of the sleepy drool from her lips and taking a sip of coffee.”  “What the hell is ‘Culture Night’?”

“You remember the artist I told you about who painted the cell you just finished sleeping in?”

“Yes.”

“His name is Ralph Bunch.  His family has lived around here for ages.  But I’d say he’s the only ‘artist’ they’ve ever sprouted.  And his specialty is painting scenes from hereabouts, most notably cows and such.  And every month he has a showing.  He covers the walls of the bar in back.  And often recites a small poem or squib of something he’s composed while in the midst of creating his paintings.  So far I’d guess I’ve heard everything which could ever be said about Guernseys.  Each month I’d be willing to wager it, but each month, Ralph proves me wrong.”  Leland smiled.  “Actually,” he added, “it’s called Poetry Night.”  Leland spoke this latter with a lift of his fork and knife and a little flourish.

“That’s real romantic.”  Agent Hailey nodded, several times, as if thinking that – and her meatloaf with homemade gravy – over.

“Agent Hailey,” Leland set his silverware to ask.  “May I call you….?”

“Yes?”

“You’ve never told me your first name.”

“Agent.”

“Agent?”  Leland looked confused, and then a little disheartened.

“Hey!”  Agent Hailey poked him with her fork, and then stole a bite of his pie.  “May name is Suzanne.  Suzanne Hailey,” she said with a smile.  “You were right about their pie.  This is really good.”

She went for another bite as Leland pulled it away.

“Get your own.”  Leland smiled.

For the rest of the meal, they chattered like two high school seniors.

Photo from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 9, 2013

Cornedge

Back to the Farm

(Episode 39)

 Carmella was beside herself.  The Café was jammed.  A line was snaking down the sidewalk outside.  And she had been on her feet and on the run since five that morning.  She had added five new waiters and three new cooks.  But they were new and had needed direction all the time.  But thank God she had happened on Stan.  She had full confidence he’d have the kitchen running like a well-oiled machine, in no time.  He seemed to have just taken over.  And nobody seemed to have complained, so “it was all good”, as her husband Pete would say.   Carmella supposed.  She would have loved to know how Stan managed what he had managed, but whatever.  It was the one bright spot in her increasingly frantic life.  ‘Actually,’ TWO brights spots.’  She wiggled her hips.

“Gotta make hay while the sun shines!  Right Sheriff,” Carmella chirped to a bleary Leland that next morning.

“Shut up, Carmella,” Sheriff Leland said, fingering his aching head, not his usual polite self.

Carmella rested her hip against the booth side as she refilled the Sheriff’s cup and murmured in confidence.  “I’m sorry Sheriff.  I don’t know what’s gotten into me.  I’m just kind of manic, what with all the activity of late, and my mouth bubbles off.  You know, we all, I mean the whole town appreciates the lengths you’re going to to find these killers.  It’s just that the Weeds getting killed has got the whole valley on edge.  Not that they were the most popular farmers around.  But they had been here for many generations.  So it’s kind of got everyone shook.  Me included, I suppose.”

“I appreciate that Carmella.”  Sheriff Leland nodded, touching his head in various spots.  “I truly do.”  He stirred his coffee.

“Okay then.”  Carmella tapped on the table.  “Coffee’s on the house.”

Leland nodded.  Then after Carmella left, he sighed.

‘That’s what I do,’ Leland scolded himself, ‘I sigh.  This town elects a Sheriff.  Murders occur.  And what does he do?  He sighs.’  Leland berated himself.

Leland thought for a moment, shook his head, and then pulled out his cell phone.

“Merlin?”  He said.

“Yeah?”

“I’ve got work for you.”

Merlin didn’t respond.

“Pick you up in 10 minutes?”

There was a long pause.

“Sure,” Merlin replied.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 17, 2013
"The Lobbyist"  Hamburger At The Campaign Cafe

“The Lobbyist” Hamburger At The Campaign Cafe

Nancy Gillis: Girl Reporter

(Episode 30)

 Nancy Gillis was only 15, and as her reportorial career was going, the blush was already off the rose.  Sure, she could continue writing for the Kimmel High Wolverine.  But if she wanted to remain in the Big Leagues she was going to have to offer them access.  The editor back at the Times had made that as plain as a seasoned editor could, who was trying to delicately negotiate a conversation with a 15 year old girl in another state.   “Who was a minor, by the way”, he continually was reminded.  They had much better, seasoned, savvy reporters who could do the frontal assault thing.

But she’d already tapped every source she knew.  Drew, the boy who was running the tour service, gave her a couple things he had filched from the Mercedes.  A toothpick, which didn’t look to be something the victim might have used.  And a slug, he’d found fallen under a tire… which she’d already photographed to accompany a first person account of her initial arrival on the crime scene.  The Sheriff wasn’t speaking.  And she didn’t trust the other reporters.  They were jealous competitors.  And Mr. Wallace, their journalism teacher at school, had as much as advised her that she was getting into deeper waters than he wanted to tread.  “You’re just starting a career, here, Nancy.  But I’m 5 years from retiring out of this School District.  That is, if I can keep from stepping on any toes.  The school district just hates paying out benefits.”

“Now, you want to go on writing sensational stuff that will get picked up by the Times, that’s fine.  But they’re your editors then.  You understand? I can’t be associated with that stuff.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it, you understand.  But it’s very dangerous to play in the Big Leagues, if you’re not a Big League player, or at least have a Big League Club behind you.  You’re bound to get hurt.  And I’m not young enough to play stickball with them.  They always ‘stick it’ to the little guy, you see, when things go sideways.  You want to go back writing about cookie sales, or Mr. Buckley’s class efforts to repopulate the riverbank with natural growing rhododendrons – then I’m right here.  Okay?”

Nancy nodded.  Fifteen years of age and she was already beginning to realize why people were committed to asylums.  ‘Life was just a viper pit of conflicting passions’, it was seeming.  She hadn’t met the serial killer – and hoped that she wouldn’t – at least until he was well behind bars.  But they might very well agree there.

Nancy rolled all of these difficulties over and over in her head, as she rode her brother’s bike with the card in the spokes around the small town.  Finally, having worked up a hunger, she ordered a burger and shake and fries at the Campaign Café and sat down at the counter.  Someone new was working in the kitchen and the clatter in the place was about twice the usual level.  ‘Well, that made sense,’ Nancy figured.  ‘At least these crimes had brought a little prosperity to my ‘depressed rural community’, Nancy practiced phrasing it like a veteran reporter.  Then she decided to make a list.  “You want to know something?  It’s people”, Mr. Wallace  had been fond of saying.  “They’ll either be able to tell you what’s going on, or even if they don’t know, you’ll find out how much they care.   And while something no one cares about may be important, it’s not newsworthy – unless somehow you can make them care.  Got that?”

‘Okay,’ Nancy thought to herself, ‘who is there in this community who might know something, or have access to knowing something, who I might be able to cajole into helping me?’  She liked the word ‘cajole’.   She practiced writing it in the margin several times.

By the time she was done she had about 13 names.

One by one, she crossed each and every one off, until, as she saw it, she was down to one or maybe two.  The first was Ruth, Sheriff Leland’s secretary.  And the second was that wild card, Agent Hailey.

Then she made another list, remembering another thing which Mr. Buckley had said:  “Put your self in the interviewees’ shoes,” he had said.  “What would talking to you, accomplish for them?  What carrot can you offer?  What do they care about?”

Nancy Gillis started that list.  She was just about done with it, before she remembered to eat.

She glanced up after gathering together her burger and noticed the new cook looking at her.  She smiled.

He nodded slightly, and gave her a small smile back.

Photo from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 15, 2013
On His Way to Breakfast

On His Way to Breakfast

Peter Barnett

(Episode 30)

 Peter Barnett woke in the high rollers suite of the Lakeside Casino and rubbed his face.  His head hurt something awful.  He staggered into the shower, dressed carelessly and made his way down to the café for some coffee.  Each ring of a payout bell was a little mental whip hoisted in the hand of one of the Devil’s minions.  Or that’s how it felt, as he passed through the casino on the way to his breakfast.

‘Everywhere you went in this place, you had to pass through the casino in order to get there!  Not by accident’, Peter Barnett was sure.  He made the café, only to sit down and place his order – when he thought to walk back into the casino again and check his standing.   (The poached eggs Benovicchi looked interesting, though more than likely a little tough for the come and go hash cooks their café hired to master.  Nevertheless, this was a kitchen.  And the personnel here had mastered it.  Or, anyway, he would taste and see if they had.)

These black out spells were driving him crazy.  For example, he couldn’t remember this morning whether he was up or down.  ‘He had to stop this drinking, while he was gambling.  …Maybe even when he wasn’t’, he thought, touching his head gingerly.

He walked back out to the accounts window to check his stats.  And what he saw made his bowels churn and his genitals shrivel.  He was sixty thousand down!  This couldn’t be right.  He wasn’t that bad of a gambler, drunk or not.

The pasty guy behind the counter must have seen lots of shell-shocked looking faces before.  Because he didn’t register any emotion outside of what could have been a slightly complacent smile.  “Bad news?” He asked.

“Only if you hate prison,” Peter groaned.  “Just kidding!”  He quickly amended, managing a sickly smile, glancing upwards at the security camera which rolled 24/7.

The pasty guy laughed politely and drifted back into his slightly complacent smile.

‘Maybe this will all look better after breakfast,’ Peter thought.

He was just biting into his Egg Benovicchi, thinking that fry poaching really gave an egg the kick that it needed if it was going to rise in people’s memories above all of the innumerable other breakfast eggs they’d had and that maybe they should give this recipe a tryout at the Campaign Cafe at home – when he got that call from Carmella.  “I keep telling you Carmella, not to bother me midday when I’m in all these meetings involving city business…” he started saying without listening, when Carmella just went right on talking, interrupting him for once.

“Well, the café needs you here,” Carmella was saying.  “Between the tourists and the gawkers and the press and our normal crowd, I’m busting a gut trying to keep up with it all.  I haven’t even had a chance to count the receipts.  It’s all sitting in a big pile of money in our back office!  I need help!”  Camella barked.  “The city’s doing fine.”

‘No it’s not,’ Peter was thinking.  He rubbed his forehead.  ‘This Egg Benovicchi wasn’t really all that it was cracked up to be’, he finally decided, putting down his fork.  He was feeling a little sick.

“Alright.  Great.  Fine.  Just give me a couple days to tie up things, and I’ll fly up there in a jiffy.”

“A couple of days is not ‘a jiffy’.”

“Listen.  I’m wearing a lot of hats here, and I can’t say much more than that.  But if you don’t want one of those hats to look very black, you’d best give me a couple more days.”

Carmella didn’t know what that meant.  And it was probably best she didn’t.  So she let it go.  “By the way”, she added.  “I hired a new guy.  Pretty much sight unseen.  Says he can cook.”

‘Sight unseen’, was pretty much the way Peter liked it.  And if he hadn’t heard anything, that would have been that much better.  “Sounds good,” he said.  “One day trial.  Cash out after the first month unless he pans out?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”  Peter nodded.  “Look I’ve got to go.  The town council is filing in now.  Expect me in a couple days or so.”

“Okay.”  Carmella sighed.

“Love you.”  Peter disconnected.  ‘Two days to win back the town’s sixty thousand.’  He swallowed the remainder of his coffee.  ‘He’d better get back to work.’

Photo by Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 11, 2013

Country Cafe4

Cash Under the Counter

(Episode 28)

 Probably another reason Stan hadn’t killed Harriet and Bob Weeds was because there was something nagging at him, some ‘unfinished business’ is how it felt.  He’d never had a feeling like this, and now he had.  Something about his stay in Kimmel County that said it wasn’t over.  And Stan didn’t need all the complications another two killings would bring.

So as not to look too conspicuous, after Bob Weeds had dropped him off, Stan stepped into the Campaign Café for a cup of coffee and a little time to think.  He sat down at the counter, where his back was to the street and to the other patrons.  Several tables to one end look to have collected laptops and phones and coats and briefcases and papers enough to signify an encampment.  Judging from the snippets of conversation which drifted Stan’s way, this was the press corps domain.  They looked the image.  Rumpled shirts, loosely knotted ties, coats tossed over the backs of chairs and with eyes staring into laptops, these guys looked as desperate as the story they were chasing.  From what Stan could make out, they were trolling for who was writing what, and who had found out what, and how, and where?  Stan figured he would’ve been more of a shoe soles on the street sort of fellow.  But what did he know?

Anyway, the place was packed, even in this off hour.  Some kid in the corner looked like he was talking to some members of an organized tour.  The waitress looked to be running her legs off, so Stan rose to refill his coffee himself.

“I can get that for you,” the waitress said, as Stan started to step behind the counter, reaching for the coffee pot.

“Uh.  Thank you.”  Stan tipped his head.  “You look a little short handed.”

“You think?”  She smiled.  The way she smiled made Stan think that she might either own the place, or have an interest in its success.   “I don’t suppose you can cook?”  She joked.  ‘Was there a sexual overtone to that?’

Stan took a look around the café again.  Across the street was the Sheriff’s office.

“Yeah.  In fact, I’m quite good at it.”  Stan smiled.

“Right.  I know.  Back yard barbeques.  Hot dogs.  Hamburgers.  And every Sunday morning you make waffles.”  The waitress smirked, from across the aisle, as she refilled more coffees.

“Nope.  No marriage.  Army.  Third division Rangers,” Stan said.

“Not much interest in K rations here,” the waitress replied.

“Not much interest in K rations there,” Stan replied.

The waitress continued with her other duties.  She yelled to the cook in the back several times.  And several times the cook in the back yelled back…  in a mixture of Spanish and English. Stan continued to sip his coffee.

“Are you making conversation and just pulling my chin, or would you really know how to do a short order job?”  The waitress asked as she walked back to Stan to re-fill his coffee.

“I’m not gassing you.”  Stan shook his head, and let his eyes wander briefly up and down her figure.  “To tell you the truth, I sort of miss it.”

“Ha!”  She wiped the counter around.  “How badly do you miss it?  You miss it today?”  She tossed her head to indicate their overstressed kitchen behind.

Stan figured for a moment.  “I could,” he answered.

“Forty dollars cash to finish out the afternoon.  And if it works out, we pay you under the table for a month until we see how everything goes,” she said in a low voice, wiping a spot on the counter nearby.

Stan nodded finally.  Then he rose and walked behind the counter.  The waitress, who introduced herself to him as Carmella Burnette – “wife to the Mayor, who’s out of town on important city business”, handed him a newly laundered smock and a hairnet and pointed him towards the kitchen.  Stan nodded to the other cook, who looked up without registering any surprise whatsoever.  That alone told Stan quite a bit.

“This is your stove.  This is your area.  And this is your counter.  I’ll clip the orders here,” Carmella said.  Stan nodded.  Carmella clipped an order there, stared at him, and then spun the thing like a roulette wheel.  Stan had the thing on its first pass.  He was a quick study.

Country Cafe2

Photo plucked from Google Images

Murders in Progress with Eldon Cene

February 7, 2013

 

Downtown Kimmel

Downtown Kimmel

The Campaign Café

(Episode 27)

 Stan had finished his Sunday meal and packed up.  The evidence of their crimes was by now certainly lost in the catacombs of the Federal Bureaucracy.  Nevertheless, even a small town sheriff could look at tire treads and count boot prints.  And two guys in a pickup with manure all over everything was what was looking suspicious in these locales of late.  Sooner or later the Sheriff was bound to be stopping by the Weed’s dairy farm, and it was better for all concerned if Stan weren’t around.

Stan explained to a nodding/crying/head shaking, disheveled Harriet, so that she could later explain it to Bob (over and over) that there was nothing for them to worry about, while she worried herself nearly sick.  The physical evidence was long gone, and without witnesses all the authorities had was a body.  Which, Stan also added, was probably long gone by now, too.

Bob started blubbering, after he had finally driven Stan into Kimmel and dropped him off in front of the Campaign Café.  “I think me and Harriet are actually going to make it now…”  Bob Weeds wiped the tears welled up in his eyes.  “Fourteen years now of TV, cow shit, chicken dinners, birthing and  bawling, and feeding, and milking…   I wished you didn’t have to go!” Bob blubbered.  “I know we done some bad things, but…”  He didn’t finish.

“Just remember, if we happen to encounter each other again, we’re strangers.  We can never admit to having met,” Stan warned him.

Stan had briefly toyed with killing them both – it would have been cleaner –  but for some reason just hadn’t ‘gotten around to doing it’.  Maybe the laid back farm life was getting to him.

“I know.  Our lips are sealed by Federal Imprimature.”  Bob had remembered the term Stan had fashioned.  In fact, whenever he said it, he started to bawl again.

“Got to go,” Stan said curtly, turned his back and left.

Bob put the truck into gear and slowly drove away.  This chapter of his life was already beginning to fade into memory, though Bob couldn’t recognize it at the time.  By the time his first two kids were nine and ten it would be like it had happened to a different man.  Bob wouldn’t even have known himself.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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