Two Burgers with Fries and Coke by Erin Cole...

We stopped at an old café, one of those with chipped pastel paint and an old, angry woman sitting out front eating a corndog.

I crawled from the passenger’s side of Antoine’s red Firebird, took a drag from my smoke, and flicked it toward a rusted-out gas pump—that was just the bitch in me.

Antoine shot me a glare.

I slammed the door, looking at him like, What?

“Can you stay the fuck cool, Lily?”

“Like you do so well?” I replied, surely with mocking blue eyes. But Antoine loved my spirit—and the cherry-red pumps I wore that day, the ones that were shinier than greased leather…the ones he liked me to prop up on his shoulders—and he smacked me hard on the ass.

So, we go into this café—I was hungrier than the devil.

“Welcome to Sandie’s Sundaes,” a short, homely gal said. “What can I get you?” Her smile looked at odds with her odd self, and I hoped the grease in her hair wasn’t from the food.

“A burger and fries,” I said.

“Do you want a milkshake with that?”

“Do I look twelve?”

Her smile stiffened, as if she were having gastric pain.

Antoine stepped up to the counter. “You got any beer?”

Her smile went as flat as her backside. “No sir. We only have soda and ice-cream.”

“Then two burgers with fries and coke.”

“Is that for here or to go?”

“To go,” I said in unison with Antoine’s, “For here.”

He turned to me, pointing a stiff finger. “There’s no way you’re eatin’ in my car, woman.”

I put both hands on my hips and leaned over with cleavage to maximize my point (they say it’s all in the delivery, you know). “Oh, but it’s okay to stick Manny in the trunk, is it?”

Antoine let out his practiced laughed. He turned to the woman behind the counter. “Manny is our stuffed pig.”

Now that had me laughing, because that was a pretty accurate description of that gluttonous fat-fuck, who was now chillin’ in Antoine’s trunk from a couple’a bullet holes to his chest.

“Fine…for here then,” I agreed. “And put extra onions on one of those burgers.”

“I guess he won’t be kissing you for awhile,” the woman snickered.

I leaned over the counter, clicking my nails to exploit my position again. “Say, you wouldn’t happen to be Sandie, would ya? Cuz if ya are, I’m gonna give you one sundae you’ll never forget, right between yer big fuckin’ mouth.”

Antoine tapped me on the butt. I crooked my head his direction. He held up three fingers, reminding me to keep it cool because of the three mill’ we had zipped up in the backseat cushion of his Firebird, which we’d stolen from that stuffed pig in the trunk.

I turned back around when a man bigger than night stepped up to the counter. His overalls could have covered the back of a horse.

“I am Sandie,” he said real slow, an effective delivery because it gave Antoine and me more time to panic. “Who gives a shit?”

I sure as shit did, but Antoine wouldn’t have it. He flipped out his bad-boy Glock, G30. “I give a shit, Sandie,” he said all cocky. “Now why don’t you open that register and give me all your shit.” Antoine could smile like a crocodile, and when he put his eyes into it, he looked crazy too.

“I think we’ll take those burgers to go after all,” I told the woman.

“O yeah?” Sandie said to Antoine’s barrel, something that I knew must have unnerved Antoine.

In one blurred motion, Sandie reached his hand up to a strap crossing his chest, tugged once, and dropped a sawed-off shotgun into his beefy palm, faster than Antoine could think, Holy Mother of Fuck?

“I think it’s high time you leave, little man. And take your cheap horror with you.”

Whatever, I thought—I’d been called worse by my own father.

The woman stuffed napkins into our bag and handed it to me. “Bye-bye now,” she said with a side of sarcasm.

Antoine was pissed. He didn’t want to let down his gun.

“C’mon, don’t be a dumb-ass, Antoine. Let’s go!”

But it seemed we were too late. Outside, sirens howled and police cars from all angles shot toward the front door of Sandie’s Sundaes.

“Oh shit…,” Antoine blurted, stuffing his gun back into his pants. Sandie adjusted his aim, red-faced ready to blow the place up.

Men in black shields busted through all the doors at the same time. Antoine ducked to the floor with his hands up, while me and homely gal froze in place. The cops jumped over Antoine and charged Sandie. He fired his gun, but a blow from behind to his shoulder rammed the barrel toward the ceiling. Shards of plasterboard and paneling blasted into the air, followed by white powder that billowed down like fairy dust—tasted like it too. Black, duct-taped bags toppled from the hole in the ceiling. Sandie’s Sundaes, for sure. But Sandie’s strength paralleled his height and it took all five officers to bust him down—they weren’t going to give him the easy route like Manny got.

Antoine and I slipped out the front door with two burgers, fries, and coke dusted over us like ash. The old, angry woman was still sitting on the steps eating her corndog, either oblivious or hardened by the redundancy of pandemonium in her neighborhood.

Antoine heaved Manny’s body into the back of Sandies’ Chevy (so the license plate said) and jumped in the car. I was already chowin’ down on my burger, because ‘member, I was hungrier than the devil and not even a little lead can interfere with an appetite like that.

“Don’t you dare slop anything on my seats,” Antoine growled at me as he sped off.

“I’m not fuckin’ twelve.”

Once on the freeway, we laughed, realizing we’d forgotten our cokes.

Erin Cole usually writes mystery and horror, but is often lured by the dark angel's curled finger to sex, drugs, and violence.  It is a shame, but you can support her through these rough times at her blog or website.  Her work has appeared in various print anthologies (Static Movement, Lame Goat Press, Pill Hill Press, Red Skies Press) and online magazines (Pulp Metal Magazine, Flashes in the Dark, The New Flesh, Negative Suck, and Fantastic Horror).  Currently, she is working on the sequel to her novel, Grave Echoes: A Kate Waters Mystery, and total world domination.


Michael Solender said...

this is freaking Hi-larious. I love how all the action comes out of nowhere and they manage to get out with their food - to cool for school - a real joy ride this one EC.

David Barber said...

Erin, this was great. It was was gritty and hard and reminded me a little of that great movie, True Romance. I know this isn't your normal genre/style but you pulled this off with style. Top marks for a top story.

Benjamin Sobieck said...

Wonderful tone, with little quirks throughout. The most fun I've read in a long while.

Paul D Brazill said...

Cracking fun! You should do more of this!

Laurita said...

Grit and humour. Now that's a combo to go. Excellent as always, Erin.

Chris Alliniotte said...

"one of those with chipped pastel paint and an old, angry woman sitting out front eating a corndog."

That set the tone for me. Humour and violence. Like ketchup and hot sauce. Such an enjoyable read Erin.

Mike MIner said...

Reminded me very much - and this is high praise - of Barry Gifford's Sailor and Lula. Loved Lily's voice.

Jesse Lee said...

I really hope they went back for their cokes!

Charlie Wade said...

Great writing, you really set the scene well at the start. Pulp at its best.

Harry said...

That was a beautiful ride Erin!

Erin Cole said...

Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. I'm thrilled you liked it!

Thanks for showcasing my work, David.

David Barber said...

Erin, thank YOU for sending it to me. Great piece!

Jodi MacArthur said...

Erin, you can pull on the gritty redneck charm! Loved this "Antoine could smile like a crocodile, and when he put his eyes into it, he looked crazy too." Hee! They made out with burger & fries, a good 3 mil, and ditched the body (like it was all pre-planned or sumthun). Yeehaa!

Anonymous said...

Erin, you rock. I needed this tonight.

Lily Childs said...

Such a great write! I've just finished reading your poetic horror over at The Feardom, and then you reverse the game with two Burgers With Fries And Coke. Just shows what a talented writer you are to be able to flip those tables and enter a different state.

Mike mentioned Sailor and Lula - oh yes!

Lydia Kang said...

Gritty and alive. Erin, well done!

Author said...

Brilliant - really enjoyed that. Nice work!

Bill Baber said...

top rate stuff, they make quite the pair!

kurtnewton said...

Great job, Erin. Very entertaining.