Written in response to: Set your story in a roadside diner.... view prompt


American Fiction Science Fiction

Day Off

She looked over at him and gave a silent look of reproach. He saw the look; he always saw the look. He asked her, “what?”

She asked her husband, “what are we doing here babe?” She watched; and followed him as he slowly walked his way around “Savory-Avery’s BBQ”. That was the name on the sign. They were right off the I-44 in mid-state, near the Six Flags amusement park.

Of course, the amusement park was empty and dark. It had been famous for its’ roller coasters; and those metal monuments to excitement and motion sickness loomed in the near distance.

They had chosen this off ramp and diner because of the underground parking structure. Even though the diner was small and quirky, it had a surprisingly large parking venue. Nothing says tornado safety like a sturdy underground facility; so that is where they had parked their solar car while they explored.

He had Fido on a relatively short leash; and was really just letting the medium size gray dog pull him about as the good boy played canine explorer. Of course, Fido had to mark as much of the outside of the diner as he could: at least until he ran dry.

She was amused at the signage for the eatery. The big neon sign for the BBQ joint showed an absurdly large rack of dinosaur sized ribs, a-la animated caveman show. She pondered that for a moment before asking her husband, “why do you suppose they ordered those ribs every time, when they had to know it would tip over their car?”

He thought on that for a moment before responding with, “I guess the ribs were super good!”

They were able to make their way into the upscale road-side eatery through a door in the rear. The other points of entry were all either locked or had too much debris piled against them. This due no doubt to the daily tornados that had become a part of life.

The diner was surprisingly clean and neat. The place was dusty; but otherwise, it was as if they were ready to open for the dinner rush.

She was unclear as to what they were doing here at this road-side diner, and her husband was being a bit mysterious as to why he had pulled in here in the first place. She didn’t have a problem following his lead, but she did like to know what the plan was.

She followed him to a large corner booth and sat opposite of him and the good boy, after they took a seat. She had been about to ask again, why they were there when he told her; “my Love, when we find who ever trained our boy Fido, we are going to have to give him back.” She could see that her husband was conflicted; and he said, “I don’t really want to.” He shook his head slightly and continued, “I know it’s the right thing to do; because you don’t take another persons’ dog, but I still don’t want to give him back.”

“I know babe,” she told him, “but getting Fido back to his owners is the right thing to do.” She reached across the table and lightly touched his hand. “For as long as I’ve known you,” she said to him, “you’ve done the right thing, even if it wasn’t the easy thing.”

She squeezed his hand a bit and said, “and imagine how happy they are going to be when they get Fido back.” He nodded his head in agreement and said, “I imagine we will get a good reception when they see we have their dog.”

He paused for a moment, gently squeezed her hand, and with his other hand he gently pet the medium sized gray dog; “but!”

She looked confused for a second and asked, “but what babe?”

He looked at the dog and looked at her and said, “I just want a day off.” He scratched Fido under the chin and the good boy loved it.

“Before I have to give away this beautiful beast,” he said as he scratched the medium gray dog behind the ear, “I want a day.”

As he spoke to his lovely wife, he thought on the preparations he had made for their trip to return the good boy to his owner.

Packed in the back of their dented solar car were several sets of body armor that they had scavenged from different military installations over the last few years. The suits were a mix of kevlar, ceramic strike plates, and ultra-high density polyethylene capable of stopping armor piercing bullets up to thirty caliber. He figured that no one had any ammunition that could bypass their protection; so that was good.

And of course, there were weapons. Several hand guns; not his father’s forty five, that was on his wife’s waist these days. He couldn’t bring himself to carry it after having to use it to save her life from that crazy sword-wielding, fire bombing guy.

There were several assault rifles and enough ammunition to: well more than they should need, if things didn’t go well. He even had a forty- millimeter grenade launcher and a dozen grenades to launch.

As he had made those preparations and packed them into the solar car; he did something that he hadn’t done in a long time. He hadn’t done it since he lost his daughter to that damned virus. Some; maybe most, would say that he lost his faith after that. Be that as it may; he prayed. He wanted things to work out. He needed them to work out.

He actually had not wanted his wife to come along, but he knew that she would not have stayed in their future home while he went off to do this thing. So he prayed.

He pointed out the window at the multiple roller coasters across the highway and said, “I want to take a day; just the three of us, and have some fun.” He squeezed her hand gently and said, “I want to win you a giant stuffed animal.”

She smiled and he smiled, and they both would have sworn that Fido smiled.

September 10, 2021 23:26

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Graham Kinross
00:11 Dec 14, 2021

“monuments to excitement and motion sickness” only the second one for me. If I’m daft enough to get on I’m very excited to get off. That was a cute post apocalyptic story about a couple and their dog. It’s amazing how you can make something new out of familiar elements. Really good.


John Del Rio
16:13 Dec 14, 2021

Many thanks for your thoughts. The couple in the story is based off my wife and myself, at least their interactions. That is part of a group of stories- all of them have "Day" in the title. They started with "Just another Day".


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John Del Rio
18:11 Dec 15, 2021

If you like- you can go to YouTube and search - special ingredient chapter - I have been reading chapters and posting them there. I am up to chapter 9...


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