"One Night at Ed & Lucille's"
by Wendy Wheeler
Copyright (c) 1994 Wendy Wheeler
All Rights Reserved
Published in The Silver Web, Volume 2, No. 2
Her lacquered nails were red
Like blood is red. They bled
With liquid diligence. Drops
Bloomed scarlet across the tabletops
Of Ed & Lucille's Diner, a Greasy
Spoon--no, more than that, a whole sleazy
Oily Silverware Set.
(Even Ed admitted, on a bad day,
The meatloaf floated and the grey
Mashed potatoes were "enough to scare
A body into trying that damn angel-hair
Pasta"). And though this gal was
Suspended from a rafter, bleeding, the callous
Clientele hadn't noticed yet.
In their defense, Lucille--a woman born
To shop, a wholesale buyer manque who scorned
The idea of LESS IS MORE and all that junk--
Had plowed a ton o' money in the place, had sunk
Mucho dinero in fitting the eatery from floor
To ceiling with her version of haute decor
Or, per Lucille, "haute to trot."
There was a life-size poster of Jimmy (James) Dean
On one wall with a dusty garland of blue and green
Flowers in a sort of shrine effect (Jimmy'd liked
Blue, Lucille once read). There was a huge spiked
Chandelier made from racks of the two hundred deer
Ed shot during the course of his fifteen-some-odd-year
Lease down at Old Man Caldicott's.
(Oddly enough, this lady hanging from the rafters displayed
The same signs of field dressing as the old decayed
Venison carcasses Ed tied onto to his '68 Buick Gran Sport.)
One wall had pictures of those sad-eyed kids with short
Little pigtails--playing guitars, selling posies--you know
The type. And dozens of wind chimes turned to and fro
In the eddies of refrigerated air.
Plus, two years earlier, Lucille had taken a course
From the community college (she decided after her divorce
To develop her talents, broaden her horizons) and had enhanced
Sections of wall and floor with duets of color opposites. Advanced
Design students wouldn't have dared her combinations--blue and
Orange by the grill, purple and yellow around the booths--crew and
Patrons alike begged "stop there!"
But Lucille hadn't stopped. There were still two more
Colors after all. So she used the red and green on the floor
Back near the two doors marked "Buckettes" and "Buckaroos,"
Which, along with the red foil wallpaper, cost a buck or two.
(Too bad, if the stuff had been cheaper, Lucille could've
Carried the color scheme into the booths, which would've
Hidden some of the blood stains.)
Where the blood did drip, though, it was almost disguised
By ketchup smears. And it wasn't until Harv Jones took a fist-sized
Bite of Mulligan stew and began to cuss about the salty red sauce
Did someone finally look up. There they saw swinging from a cross
Beam that dead, nude body. Lucille shrieked, "What kind of shady
Deal is this?" Ed chuckled and said, "Findin' out from the Avon Lady
What exact color of red is in her veins."