Fiction: In Through the Haywire
Photo Source: PxFuel
Devlin didn’t understand why he couldn’t recognize a girl he’d never met.
He was sitting by himself in a corner booth of a restaurant when he first noticed the girl. She was also sitting by herself, absorbed in a monstrous sized novel while picking at the bones of a monstrous sized steak. The image struck him as comical, but he wasn’t laughing. He was sure she didn’t look familiar, yet he couldn’t shake the unmistakable feeling of déjà vu as he stared at her from across the restaurant.
He sat in his booth, temporarily frozen by the sight of her. His right hand held a fork-full of a salad, suspended a few inches from his open mouth. It was as if he were in a movie, paused on a seemingly unimportant moment so that the viewer could make a trip to the bathroom. But this was real life, and the world continued around him despite his momentary lapse of motion. It caught up to him as he saw out of the corner of his eye an entire table of people staring at him, no doubt confused (and slightly amused) by his odd, statue-like appearance. He quickly brought the food to his mouth and resumed eating so that they would stop staring. His face grew hot with embarrassment as the awkwardness of his actions took hold. It took longer than he liked, but the people at the table did return to their business after what felt like a very long time.
The restaurant, the “Down Yonder Diner”, was like something out of a quirky, backwater independent film. It was at the end of a slightly hidden dirt road complete with a dirt parking lot with no marked spaces for parking. Yet, when he had first come upon the diner, the formidable collection of cars and trucks had been neatly spaced and parked, as if by the direction of some unseen usher. The whole structure of the restaurant was made of dark, sturdy wood, clearly made by very capable hands. The porch, also wooden, was bathed in a single red light emitting from the entrance. He had thought to himself that a place like this could only be frequented by people that already knew it was there.
In actuality, the last few days had been very troubling for Devlin, considering the fact that he was currently in southeastern Louisiana. The troubling part being that he had no idea how he had gotten to southeastern Louisiana.
Devlin’s mind was contemplating his inexplicable situation when the image of the girl vaulted forward in his mind, snapping him suddenly out of his meditative stupor. He looked up quickly to see that the girl was no longer at her table. Her book was MIA too, in addition to her dishes already having been cleared by some obviously fastidious busboy.
He jumped suddenly to his feet, fork falling and clattering on his plate, once again attracting stares from the surrounding tables. But he was beyond self-consciousness at this point, being filled with a sudden urgency to find the girl and confront her. Confront her about what? he asked himself. The answer eluded him. Regardless, the need to slake his unsettling curiosity controlled his actions. He quickly scanned the diner but didn’t see her. The bathrooms were directly past the booth he had been occupying. Despite the trance he had been in while sitting there, he highly doubted that she had passed by without him noticing.
His feet now took him in the direction of the entrance (exit in this case), as he tried to keep their pace steady while still moving at a hurried speed. He was sure he looked like a drunk walking home, suddenly aware of someone watching him, in turn trying too hard to continue in a sober fashion.
The hostesses at the front podium- deep in their all-important gossip- didn’t take much notice of him as he hurried by them, hoping to catch up to the girl before she was out of sight of other people. He didn’t want to frighten her.
As he exited the restaurant, his white t-shirt became a neon pink as he stepped into the red glow of the porch. A loose board caught his foot and almost sent him flying over the stairs and onto the ground. He managed to maintain his balance as he leapt off the porch and onto the dirt parking lot. As he gathered himself, he quickly realized no one else was there. He walked onto the dirt road, heart sinking as he looked around in all directions. The girl was gone.
I was born and raised in Central Ohio, and I continue to live a quiet life here to this day. I have been a writer, in some form or another, for my entire life. Whether it be short stories, novels, poetry, songwriting, or others, it has been and always will be my most fulfilling and beloved creative outlet.