Monday, April 23, 2012

voyage to star 25, part 2: mrs wilson's diner

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas

click here for part one







maisie was a philosopher
nothing disconcerted her
she had seen all the pictures, heard all the tales
still had a little wind in her sails

though her mind often seemed to drift
she was always on time for her shift
and had won mrs wilson's trust
without breaking through her solid crust



tonight, though, mrs wilson seemed vexed
well, perhaps just a little perplexed
her agitation gave maisie pause
and she wondered what was the cause

"some fellers came in tonight.
they just didn't look right."
maisie could hardly be more surprised
though nothing showed in her dark eyes



mrs wilson had run the diner for four decades
she was not a blushing maid
her patrons were not from the top drawer
maisie had never seen her discombobulated before

"um - what did these fellers say or do?
did they actually threaten you?
where was leroy? he's never around - "
maisie laughed " - when you need him, i have found"



"it wasn't what they did or said -
but i could see right into their heads!"
"well", maisie replied with opacity
"i never knew you had such a capacity."

"their evil ideas were fairly bursting forth
from their skulls with walpurgisnachtian froth - "
this was not mrs wilson's usual manner of speaking
maisie wondered if her brains were leaking

"well, leroy should be around soon
why don't you go on over to your room -"
(for mrs wilson lived right behind the shop)
" - and laudanum why don't you take a drop?"



"no, i don't want to sleep
who know what terrors in the deep
from which i may never return
may writhe and slime and slash and burn -"

maisie replied with a smile half bright
"but isn't that true every night?"
she proceeded to put her apron on
and wished mrs wilson would run along



"oh look, here comes leroy now"
around midnight leroy craved some chow
at morning noon and twilight too
his stomach rumblings would come due

leroy enforced the law in the little town
always had a smile, hardly ever a frown
he had a rusty badge and a billy club
and he was everybody's bub



he had a gun in his holster he had never drawn
in miscreants' faces he would yawn
and say why do you have to make a fuss
yes, leroy was an amiable cuss

"glad you decided to come round tonight
mrs wilson has had a fright"
but when maisie turned around
mrs wilson's agitation was not to be found



"it's nothing, leroy, don't worry yourself"
mrs wilson took a pie down from the shelf
"i was just being a neurotic old frump
sometimes i get down in the dumps"

incurious leroy, nowise upset
on his favorite stool down his carcass let
and with his customary yawning and stretching
said "maisie, my dear, tonight you look particularly fetching"



"and you too edna, you look as good as this pie"
leroy thoughtfully rubbed his eyes
things were back to normality
and proceeded with customary informality

some of the regulars came and went
a few hard earned dollars they spent
leroy continued to eat his fill
and maisie leaned against the grill



outside it started to rain, then thunder
maisie began to idly wonder
what had upset mrs wilson so
perhaps, she thought, i will never know

she heard a car pull up outside
and then the door flung open wide
leroy did not look back or up
but slowly put down his coffee cup



two customers stood in the door
that maisie had never seen before
they were very neatly dressed
their shirts were ironed and their ties were pressed

but such details seemed hardly germane
as they stood there in the wind and rain
their features maisie had never before seen
their eyes were red and their faces were green




to be continued




1 comment:

Dan Leo said...

Thank God someone is keeping the epic tradition alive.