This is a story for funsies. I have started this for silliness and insanity and romantic dripple. I laughed while I wrote it and I hope you will too!
This was edited by my wonderful Beta Reader Kerapal Bubbles. May her grammar be mighty.
The image was produced by my good friend Nainari.
And let the insanity... BEGIN.
The booth was tattered, but the pancakes were amazing. The tiny all-day breakfast dive was an impeccable hiding place. Especially for the kind of day he'd had. There were hardly any customers in the place.
Van took a sip of coffee and sighed as his eyes slid over to the contract papers that rested beside his half-empty plate. Settling back in the seat, he picked up the page that held his signature and felt an unsettling irritation rustle the food in his stomach. He'd caved. He'd broken his promise to himself from three years ago and signed his life away once more. And all for what?
Money. It had become his leash and Allen knew it. Van had to take care of Merle. She was the only one he had left in this world. He had to provide for her.
Allen's attempt at a thug accent rang annoyingly in his head: "Yo, Van! This is the opportunity of a lifetime, aight!? To get back on stage! You'll be playing again, homme! Writing those bitch-kickin' songs again! Just take the paper and bring it back to me on the fly tomo, know what I'm sayin'? Rattle it in yo head for a bit! You'll have it all like! Fame, cha-ching, the bitches! It's C.T.F, dude. C.T.F."
Van didn't care enough to figure out what C.T.F meant. His friend had changed with the times. Van loved good ol' alternative rock. Allen wanted to go hip hop...
Just another reason to hate himself.
"I never even liked that life, Allen," Van murmured darkly to his signature. "That's the reason I got out. I'm not like you. I don't want the fame and attention. I just want to write songs. I want-"
"More coffee, sir?" A woman's chipper voice broke his audible train of thought. Van looked up with a blush of embarrassment. A pair of bright green eyes in a pretty face smiled down at him. Her hair was cropped short like a pixie. Dressed in the bright yellow dress uniform, she shook the coffee pot she was holding and the black liquid sloshed noisily.
"I'm alright, thanks," he nodded. "I would like a to-go box, if you don't mind."
Her green eyes widened with recognition and his heart sank.
He knew that look.
Reaching up, she yanked out a red earphone bud that had been nestled in her right ear and it draped over her shoulder. "I know you!" she said loudly and the few customers in the place looked over curiously. "You're Fanel, right? Van Fanel!? You were the lead guitarist with the White Dragons several years back! Holy shit, that's amazing! I have all of your albums! I can't believe you of all people are sitting here in this dump!"
"Watch your mouth, brat!" An older, much larger man barked from the back counter. He had stains on his apron and a spatula in his thick fingers. "I have the urge to fire you again!"
"It's a dump and you know it!" she shot back. "And who else would work here for what you pay!?"
"Don't provoke him, Hitomi," A redhead walked by hauling a tray of silverware. "He'll be awful for hours if this keeps up."
"I did not provoke him, Yukari! I can't help that he's an old fart with exceptionally good hearing!"
"You gonna take that, Balgus?" A customer in the corner shouted with a laugh.
The old man growled. "That's it! Get out! You're fired!"
"It was a compliment!" she shouted with her vibrant green eyes practically glowing. "I said you have good hearing! And besides, you can't fire me and you know it!"
"Watch me! Your scrawny butt can easily be replaced!"
"My butt isn't scrawny, you fat slob!"
"Really mature, you two," her friend sighed from the table over as she folded the silverware into paper napkins. She glanced to Van and said, "I'm sorry for this. They'll be done in another few minutes."
"Who will be done in a few minutes!?" The man named Balgus roared. He pointed a finger at the pixie girl and snarled, "She doesn't work here anymore!"
"Whatever! Go wash your apron!" The girl rolled her eyes and poured Van the coffee he didn't want. "Sorry about that, sir. He's a moron."
"Hitomi, quit it!" the redhead said exasperated. "I'd like just one day where the two of you don't bicker like clucking hens around here!"
The girl grinned widely. "Ah, but you'd miss it if we didn't. Besides, I think Balgus' fat heart would die of boredom if I wasn't here to keep it beating properly."
"My blood-pressure would definitely be better," the old man barked.
"Maybe it would help if you didn't eat so much friggin' bacon, fatty!"
"Maybe it would help if you drove that ridiculous motorbike of yours off a bridge!"
"Cut it out!" Yukari shouted.
"Can-can I have my check, please?" Van asked with a timidly raised finger.
Stepping out of the restaurant clutching his leftovers, he took a deep breath and sighed it into the cold air. He cracked a smile as the door shut with a small bell's ting and cut off what the girl was yelling. With how loud it was in there, the city was almost eerily silent. The dark and icy streets, the streetlights flickering standoffish reds and greens. There was possibly one or two people walking about with thick coats and briefcases, but most of the city's inhabitants had found their place for the night. Checking his watch, he saw it was past eleven. Damn. Merle was probably worried sick. He should have thought to get her pancakes.
He frowned and dug in his pocket for his phone. Merle should have called at least seven or eight times by now.
Man, she was going to flay him alive for letting it die.
I gotta tell her about the contract, too… he thought sourly, stopping to cross the street. She's going to insist on coming.
Van's adopted sister had finally turned sixteen and entered her rebellious years. Turning up one day with spiked pink hair and a headband with moving cat ears on it, Van had shrugged and said he liked her new color. Coming along on the road with a band was definitely not for a sixteen year old girl. She'd have to get a tutor to keep up with her studies. He'd have to babysit her constantly to make sure she wasn't getting into trouble.
The light turned for him to cross and he took a step forward into the street.
"That flatulent squat-head scared him off! I was going to ask for an autograph! I could have met the legendary Allen Schezar! This sucks!" Hitomi scowled, pulling the tray forward to clear the dish and coffee cup.
"You should have asked him to sing 'Vicious Webs' or something," Yukari smiled. "That's your favorite song, right? Or is it 'Cut the Breaks'?"
"No, no, 'Cut the Breaks' was from Allen's solo album. Totally not as good. And my favorite song is 'Guardians'."
Her friend frowned. "But isn't that the sappy one?"
"Hell yeah, it's sappy! It's amazing! It's poetry!" Hitomi picked up white papers off the table and pressed it to her heart. "The lyrics are breath-taking…"
"What are you cuddling?" Yukari pointed with a frown.
Blinking in surprise, Hitomi glanced down at the papers in her hands and saw Van's signature.
"Oh, god, he left something!" She scooted out of the booth and immediately headed to the door. "Maybe I can get Allen's number as a reward!"
"Wait! You forgot your coat!" Yukari called after her, but the door shut with that bell's ting.
Hurrying, she shivered in the cold night and searched the walkways. Spotting a silent stooped figure stopped at the cross-walk, she recognized the messy black hair and grinned.
He had just stepped forward to cross the street and she saw it like a sixth sense. The headlights of a car swerving down the wrong way of a one-way street. It was coming straight for him.
And like the runner she used to be in high school, she took off in a flash.
Van, his head still full of future Merle scolding, didn't noticed the car approaching. Suddenly, he heard a woman shout and he looked back curiously.
It was the waitress!
And she was running straight for him!
With a feeling of shock, he froze as she came closer and closer.
And that's when he saw the bright headlights coming for him in the intersection.
"WATCH OUT!" she shrieked and her body crashed into his…
Just as the car turned left…
Missing him completely…
The back of his head hit the concrete pavement and he saw black stars for several seconds. Blinking through his wavering vision, it somewhat cleared on a pair of wild green eyes. The pixie haired waitress' mouth was open in surprise. Her hands clenching the folds of his jacket, she was uncomfortably sprawled on top of his body. They were still in the middle of the empty street. She hadn't pushed him out of the way. Just knocked him over. Van turned his damaged head to look down the street and saw no car. His leftover pancakes had broken open from the fragile Styrofoam box and crowned the ground in golden syrup glory. They were scattered over white pieces of paper; honoring it brown and sticky.
And that's when it hit Van like the car that didn't:
His contract. He'd left it.
"I-I'm sorry!" she stammered her voice shaking. "I thought the car was going to get you! I am so, so sorry! I was just trying to save your life!"
"Get off of me," he grunted and she gasped as if she just realized where she was. Ungracefully moving off his body, her small hands reached for his shoulders and he hissed in pain.
"Are you okay? Your head is bleeding! You should go to the hospital! I'll drive you there!"
"No!" Van wheezed as the air came back into his lungs. "No, I think I'll be alright."
"I insist! Please, let me drive you!"
Sitting up with a groan, his vision blacked out and he closed his eyes against his rising nausea.
"My bike is only a little bit a ways near the restaurant! Come on! Stand up!" He felt strong fingers grab his right arm and pull hard.
"T-The papers," he choked on the sour bile in his throat. "I need them."
"Of course! One sec!" the waitress let go of his arm and he heard her shake the papers to knock away the broken pancake. "I am so sorry, sir! I really am!" She knelt in front of him and held the papers out just as his stomach decided to empty the newly eaten breakfast.
A bit of the vomit hit his legs and his lap, but thankfully he was spared from the most of it. The contract and the woman however…
"I… I…" Her mouth was open; her large green eyes as wide as they can go. Her pancake covered arms were shaking as they held the now not-so-white papers in front of him. A small piece of broken bacon slid off her ruined uniform and landed on the ground with an audible slap. Her legs were drenched in chunks of murky brown and cream.
Van's head was swimming, but he had enough sense to realize what had happened.
"I… am sorry…" he whispered in a faint voice.
She was still frozen, her face unmoving, her body trembling in his puke.
Suddenly, a car turned onto their street and gave a loud honk.
"Get off the road, ya damn crazy people! This ain't a bedroom!"
They watched together as the car maneuvered around them and continued down the street. Turning back to stare at each other, Van reached up to take the papers gently from her hands. Holding the corners that were saved from vomit, he saw her blink as if wakening from a dream and slowly stand up. Plops of goop fell from her legs and yellow dress.
"I'll go call a cab and take you to the hospital…" Her voice was airy and light.
"O-okay…" He mumbled.
"Can you move to the sidewalk?"
"I think so," he nodded – bad idea. His head was pounding.
"I'll… be right back…" Van watched her walk stiffly across the street and enter the restaurant. Scooting slowly off the middle of the road, he sat on the curb and held back another urge to vomit. Glancing down at the messy papers in his hand, a sour snort erupted from his throat. He had to give these papers back to Allen tomorrow morning. Through the incomprehensible mess he'd made on them, Van could barely make out his signature on the bottom line.
What a story this will bring, he mused with a weak smile on his face.
A large figure stepped out of the restaurant followed closely by the pixie girl. It was the dirty apron man. He marched across the street and Van felt a strange apprehension at the man's hostile demeanor.
"Are you alright, son?" the old man rumbled as he neared Van. "Let me take a look at ya and see what this imbecile's done now."
"I told you I was trying to save his life!" the girl crossed her arms that were still coated in gluey puke.
"And nearly killed him in the process!"
"I think he got me back considering I'm covered in his barf!"
The old man knelt close and his mustache twitched at the smelly papers. "You're eyes are a bit dazed and I'm not liking this scratch on the back of your head. You going to the hospital."
"That's what I was trying to do!" the girl injected. "I was going to call him a cab!"
He growled and pointed at the restaurant. "Go back before you cause a meteor to hit us! You're a walking train-wreck! And you owe me a uniform!"
"He owes you a uniform! It's not my barf!" she snapped, but started walking back across the street.
"Tell Yukari to go get my keys and bring the vehicle around!" he roared after her.
"I can do it!"
"Not in that, you won't! Go wash yourself and go home! You've caused enough trouble for one day!"
The ride to the hospital was not as eventful, but it still held some surprises.
"That brat is not worth having around." The old man, Balgus, grumbled from the driver-side. "This has gone too far. Knocking a man over in the street! She's a wild hooligan!"
"Why don't you fire her for real? You threatened it enough." Van asked in a raspy voice as his hair brushed back off his hot face. Despite the chilly weather, his open window was as much for Van's nausea as it was for the sour smell of the papers in his hand.
Balgus sighed through his mustache and turned on his blinker. "I can't. Made a promise to her mama that I'd watch over her. I didn't realize what I was getting into when I said yes. She used to be such a sweet little thing. Ever since she came back from dropping out of college, she's got this tough, chip-on-her-shoulder, attitude."
"She was in college?"
"Yeah." A twinkle of pride hit the old man's eye. "Straight A student in high school and got in with full scholarship to Cornish University. She was practically 4.0 till her junior year… and then she just… quit. Done. Said she hated school and came back here. I gave her the job to keep her out of trouble. She's been a pistol ever since."
"Straight A, huh?" Van mused. "What was she studying for?"
A CT scan, a white bandage around his head, and a prescription for pain medication later and Van was a free man. They even gave him a folder to keep his wrinkled, disgusting papers in. Balgus had stayed with him the entire way and even offered to drive him home. Van had politely declined with a promise to stop by the restaurant tomorrow. Getting into the yellow cab, Van checked the clock on the dashboard and sighed.
Three in the morning… Merle was going to be distraught. She probably already called the police for a missing person search.
Merle… Van knew he'd have to take her with him on the road with the band. He couldn't leave her alone at the apartment. She needed guidance though. She needed someone to keep an eye on her. An image crossed his mind. The wild green eyes of the pixie haired waitress had randomly appeared. She was a straight A student with some college cred. She had training to be a teacher and would be someone that Merle would respect.
Another image of her staring shell-shocked at him in his puke made him shudder and dismiss his train of thought. His brain wasn't thinking properly. He had smacked it on the concrete. What he needed was sleep and to forget that crazy woman.
Closing his eyes, he let out a slow breath.
He hoped whenever he visited the restaurant that she wasn't working. He could go a lifetime without running into her again.
Unfortunately for him, he wasn't a very lucky guy.
This in no way is going to be a crazy plot. It's supposed to be easy, simple, and relaxing. I wanted something I could have fun with and - I gotta tell ya - I had a blast writing this first chapter.
I want every chapter to be just as insane.
Welcome to the wonderful world of my ultimate playground.
Also, C.T.F means 'Claim to Fame'.
I looked it up.