The Other Silver Key – part 4

There was always a little lull in town after the 4th of July festivities wrapped up, a week or so of relative calm before the heat and madness of mid-summer began to fry the brain and jangle the nerves. We had already gone through twenty dishwashers and a dozen bussers since we had opened the restaurant in mid-May, but Omari had hung on, despite his growing irritability and restlessness. It was obvious that his mind was elsewhere, preoccupied with some deep matter he wouldn’t talk about; he began to mutter and grumble to himself, and would occasionally raise his voice (that other voice, the one not quite his own), shake his fist in the air, and shout things in some guttural, incomprehensible language (an Egyptian exchange student, waitressing for the summer, swore it was no Arabic language she was familiar with)….. Business picked up again by the middle of July, and soon the daily battle against the forces of chaos left little time or inclination to delve into the personal issues of co-workers. Omari took care of business and that’s all we cared about…..The remainder of July passed without incident (other than those caused by the commonplaces of sharp knives, hot oil & near-nervous-breakdowns), until a brutal heat-wave rolled in near the end of the month. Temps in the high-nineties with suffocating humidity and little wind sent our thermometer behind the line soaring towards the 120 degree mark. Nights hovered around the highh 70’s/low 80’s, and with the kitchen shutting down past midnight and re-opening at 5 AM, it never had the chance to cool down…..The first few intolerable days and nights stretched into an unbearable week, then into an ungodly 2nd week. The casualties mounted, casual discourse ceased, and the madness deepened. The local bar we frequented after closing down and cleaning the kitchen held an open mic night once or twice a week; I had written a poem the night before, and decided to offer it to all the burned-out restaurant-pirates gathered there. I got up on stage, a guy with a bass guitar gave me a vamp, a proper back-beat, and I read:………………

‘The tourists descend in droves with their cash

the restaurant up-shifts a gear

the breakfast cook moans as he’s slinging his hash

the Dog Days of August are here

The pot-man whose temper is sour at best

rants by the hour like mad King Lear

kindness and forbearance are put to the test

the Dog Days of August are here

The barmaid whose smile used to light up the room

now brow-beats the bar-backs and fills them with fear

the hot humid air holds portents of doom

the Dog Days of August are here.

The prep cook is drunk and gets nothing done

the sous chef drinks buckets of beer

the pantry man is a fierce German Hun

the Dog Days of August are here.

The waitresses snap like bitches in heat

at the waiters who respond with a sneer

the cooks are like butchers with a fresh cut of meat

the Dog Days of August are here.

The fryolater grease is smoky and black

the busboys just don’t seem to hear

the hostess just smoked the last of her crack

the Dog Days of August are here.

The tourists want lobster and blueberry pie

not a one will shed the least little tear

over me in this kitchen, wanting to die

yes, the Dog Days of August are here.’……………….

The howling laughter of recognition and the hearty whooping and applause somehow sent Omari into a rage. “You laugh! You make jokes!”, he roared as he bulled his way through the crowd to the stage. He grabbed the microphone and shouted, “You niggling species! You pitiful race of less-than-dirt animated cadavers!” (he’d had much more than several Ouzos) “The Nameless Old Ones dwell on the threshold and the Timeless Aeon approaches! You merrily hoot and bray while the more ignorant among you call down the wrath of Elder Beings which your feeble minds have no conception of! Here! Here, I’ll read this!”…he pulled out a yellow sheet of paper like the one he had read from to me…”This! This is what the blasphemer writes!”:

“What the unspeakable hells is there to do in this dreary dimension? I asked him.

He laughed. When I first came here, he said, a mere colour out of space, I asked myself the same question. Then I discovered the fun one can get in conquering these odd worlds, subjugating the inhabitants, getting them to fear and worship you. It’s a real laugh.

Of course, the Old Ones don’t like it.

The old ones? I asked.

No, he said, Old Ones. It’s capitalized. Funny chaps. Like great starfish-headed barrels, with filmy great wings that they fly through space with.

Fly through space? Fly? I was shocked. I didn’t think anybody flew these days. Why bother when one can sluggle, eh? I could see why they called them the old ones. Pardon, Old Ones.

What do these Old Ones do? I asked the King.

(I’ll tell you all about sluggling later. Pointless, though. You lack wnaisngh’ang. Although perhaps badminton equipment would do almost as well). (Where was I? Oh yes).

What do these Old Ones do, I asked the King.

Nothing much, he explained. They just don’t like anybody else doing it.

I undulated, writhing my tentacles as if to say “I have met such beings in my time”, but fear the message was lost on the King.

Do you know of any places ripe for conquering? I asked him.

He waved a hand vaguely in the direction of a small and dreary patch of stars. There’s one over there that you might like, he told me. It’s called Earth. Bit off the beaten track, but lots of room to move.”

By the time Omari was done reading, and shaking with rage, most of the bar customers had either left or were conversing among themselves.

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About j. j. marino

As a creaky & cranky a-social agoraphobic anchorite, living in seclusion in the Great North Woods & keeping centered by the Power of the Written Word, a blog would seem to be a fat pitch in my strike zone.

Posted on January 23, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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