Truman Humboldt walked into the Nawtee Clock Shop in downtown Nawtee, Nebraska and firmly tapped the tip of his walking stick on the tiled floor.
“Uh huh, be right with you,” said the old man behind the counter who was busy dissecting the insides of an old clock and trying to make repairs. He stopped, wiped his oily hands on a rag and looked up.
“What can I do fer ya?”
“I was wondering if you might have a lobster clock for sale.”
“A lobster clock?” the old man asked with a quizzical grunt. “What the hell is a lobster clock?”
“Well, simply put, it’s a clock that looks like a lobster.”
The old man scratched at his head as he looked Truman up and down; he noticed that the 30-something man was oddly tall and skinny and that he had an odd face that looked sunburnt, and that his smile was very awkward. He noticed the long, stringy blonde hair coming down from atop his oily, pinkish head, and if it weren’t for the scraggly beard upon his face, Truman could have easily been mistaken for a very ugly woman.
The owner quickly scanned the walls of his small shop – looking at all the clocks he had hanging there, all ticking away in unison.
“No, sorry, I don’t have any lobster clocks,” the old man said, and he started going back to fixing the broken timepiece spread out on his workbench.
“Well, do you think you can order one for me?” Truman asked, a bit exasperated.
The old man put down his tools and sighed. He looked under his counter and pulled out a small white card and pushed it in Truman’s direction.
“Fill this out and I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t guarantee nothing.”
Truman looked the card over suspiciously.
At the very top it said: SPECIAL ORDER REQUEST. Beneath that it asked for his name, address, phone number and nature of the request.
Truman filled it out sloppily, for he had terrible penmanship because he was always so shaky, and then he handed the card back to the man.
“Thank you, Truman said. “I eagerly await your response.”
And with that he tapped the tip of his walking stick on the floor again, turned and walked out the door.
Truman holstered his walking stick, clumsily boarded his red bicycle and started riding through downtown, his stringy blonde hair flowing behind him. He had a great sensitivity to light and the bright sun made him squint and that made it hard for him to see. He took a right at Main Street and pedaled up and across the cement bridge that went over the dirty rail yard below. He coasted down the other side and took a right on Corn Street. Truman lived at the very end of the block in a very small house painted red. He rolled into the driveway, set his bicycle against the chain-link fence that surrounded his small yard, and went inside.
Truman closed all the curtains and went into the bathroom where he went to work filling his bathtub with very hot water. He lit a few candles. Then he went into his modest kitchen where he sliced up some lemons and put cubes of butter in a small pot to melt over the gas stove top.
When the tub was nearly full, he turned off the water and poured in the melted butter. Then, one by one, he squeezed juice from the lemon slices into the water and threw the well-rung pieces into a trash bin near the tub. He clicked on the small CD player that sat on the counter near the tub. It played ocean sounds, nothing but ocean sounds.
Truman stripped off his clothes and dipped his lanky body into the scalding water. It hurt at first, but then his body got used to it. His body always got used to it. His hot lemon-butter bath had become a regular ritual lately and he thought he might be going absolutely nuts. He put a wet washcloth over his face and leaned back in the tub. He felt the heat penetrate his bones. He could smell the lemon in his brain. He could feel the butter making his skin oily and slippery. He stayed there in the tub like that for 24 minutes.
When he got out, he studied his naked body in the mirror. The skin that covered his odd bones was a burning red color. He tilted his head to one side and watched as the water dripped off his head, through his hair, down onto his bony, narrow shoulders, across his concave chest and over his somewhat bulging belly.
“I’m grotesque,” he said aloud to no one, and he switched off the light.
Truman walked into his bedroom and pulled out the third drawer of his lobster-decorated dresser. He removed his neatly-folded lobster pajamas and put them on. He shuffled into the living room and plopped down and sank into his comfortable red couch, the pattern of the fabric being a mix of lobsters and the heads of bearded sea captains with big pipes in their mouths.
Truman watched only one thing: Seinfeld. He had the entire television series on DVD, and he proudly admits to everyone that he has seen every single episode at least 101 times. His favorite episode of all time? The Hamptons of course. That’s the one where Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer visit the ugly baby couple in the Hamptons and Kramer snags lobsters from commercial lobster traps and they all enjoy a great lobster feast and George has a problem with “shrinkage” from being in the cold water and Jerry’s girlfriend makes fun of him and George exacts revenge by putting lobster in her scrambled eggs at breakfast because she’s allergic to shellfish – yadda, yadda, yadda.
“Hah!” Truman laughed out loud, as he watched The Hamptons for the 102nd time.
It was 6 in the a.m. when Truman arose from troubled sleep. He forced his body up and sat on the edge of the bed and looked out the window at the endless, boring view of the flatlands. He lit a cigarette with his lobster-shaped lighter and blew the smoke into the air.
“Why?” he asked aloud, “Why can’t I awake to a beautiful view of the ocean, instead of … this?”
He sighed heavily, for it was Truman’s dream to move to Maine and live right there on the edge of the ocean and have his own lobster shack where he would serve the best lobster rolls in the world. And then he giggled to himself.
“And if they don’t order right, I will say ‘no lobster roll for you!’”
He stood tall and stretched. His bones popped here and there and he walked into the kitchen to eat some breakfast.
“Today I will have Froot Loops,” he said in a high, quirky voice. He got out his favorite cereal bowl, the one that looked like a lobster, and poured the cereal in slowly, all the while saying: “Froot Loops, Froot Loops, Froot Loops.”
He munched and crunched and stared out the kitchen window.
“Damn it!” he suddenly yelled, pounding his fist on the table. “I don’t want to go to work today! Eh, I hate chickens.”
Truman had two jobs. The main one being working at the chicken processing plant where he spent all day breaking chicken necks and then placing the birds on a grotesque conveyor belt that whisked them away to other torture chambers.
“Snap, crackle, plop!” Truman queerly yelped. “Snap, crackle, plop, plop, plop.”
His second job was working part-time as a cashier at the Nawtee Pop n Shop Food Market. He didn’t mind the job too much, except for the fact he always felt his co-workers were laughing at him behind his back.
“Froot Loops, Froot Loops, Froot Loops,” Truman repeated as he wandered through the house not really knowing what the hell he was doing until he finally realized he needed to get dressed and ship off.
“You know, I really wish we were shelling lobsters instead of breaking chicken necks!” Truman said loudly to the Mexican lady working across from him.
“Huh?” she said, with a puzzled look on her face.
“Lobsters! I wish these were lobsters!”
“Lobsters? You el pollo loco,” the Mexican lady said, waving her blue rubber-gloved hand at him, and she went back to work, completely ignoring him.
“Thanks a lot!” Truman yelled back at her, and he smiled his awkward, yucky teeth smile, a smile that did nothing to improve his burning red complexion.
At lunch break, Truman sat by himself at a long table in the cafeteria looking down at the plastic tray in disgust.
“Chicken sandwiches. I hate chicken sandwiches. How many times do I have to tell you people I HATE chicken sandwiches!”
The chatter in the cafeteria died down and people stared at Truman and whispered.
One of the supervisors noticed Truman’s outburst and went over to him.
“Everything OK there Truman, you seem a little tense.”
“Yes Mr. Munch, everything is fine. I just wish we had some better menu choices.”
“Well, ya know, it’s a FREE lunch. You get what we give you. If you don’t like it, why don’t you bring your own lunch?”
“You know Mr. Munch, thank you, I think I may start doing that.”
Mr. Munch patted Truman on his bony shoulder.
“That’s good Truman, we just want you to be happy here. You ARE happy here, aren’t you?”
“Well, I guess so, it’s a job, you know how it is these days.”
Mr. Munch sat down next to Truman.
“You know Truman, we do very important work here. Why, we process chicken for people all over the country here. Why, just this morning, you may have broken the neck of a chicken that will be enjoyed by a thankful family in … say, Florida.”
“Florida is hot and muggy and there are too many bugs and alligators there.”
“Well, OK, wherever then. How ‘bout Maine, you always talk about going to Maine.”
Truman grew angry.
“How dare you Mr. Munch! People in Maine only eat lobster! Lobster god damn it!”
“Hey, hold on there Truman, settle down. I’m sure some people in Maine eat chicken. I mean people can’t eat lobster every day.”
“I could, and I would if I lived there. I would eat lobster every damn day and you know what, if you came to visit me, I wouldn’t let you have any lobster. I’d say to you – ‘No lobster roll for you, Mr. Munch,’ and then I’d tell you to get the hell out of my restaurant.”
Mr. Munch stood up and just shook his head.
“OK Truman, you win. If you’re going to be like this, I’d rather not talk to you right now. You’re a good worker Truman, but I think you’re losing your marbles. I want you to report to the company counselor this afternoon, before you leave for the day. I’ll let her know you’re coming.”
Truman Humboldt lightly knocked on the half-opened door of the counselor’s office in an upper part of the plant where he had never been to before.
“Come in,” said a female voice.
“Hello,” Truman shyly said, his heart thumping, as he looked at the well-dressed woman sitting behind a cluttered desk.
“You must be Truman, right? I’m Maggie Barrymore,” and she stood and extended her hand.
Truman grasped her hand and he got nervous in his gut, for her skin was very soft and warm to the touch.
“Please, sit down,” she said to him.
Truman took a seat across from her. He became even more nervous when he saw how beautifully blonde and bold she was, how perfectly pouty and precious she was, how completely unlike himself she was.
“So, Mr. Munch said you had some kind of trouble in the cafeteria today. Do you want to tell me about that?”
Truman looked down when he spoke.
“Oh, it wasn’t really trouble. I was just a bit upset about having to eat a chicken sandwich again.”
“Truman, you can look at me, I won’t bite.”
“Unless you want me to,” Truman heard her soft voice inside his head say.
“Oh, I’m sorry mam, I’m not always good around people, especially pretty people like you.”
“Well, thank you Truman, but, we’re here to talk about you and what happened today.”
Truman heard her sensual voice in his head again. “Do you want to take me to bed? I’ll let you do anything.”
“Well, like I said,” he stammered nervously, “I was mad about having to have a chicken sandwich again. I just wished they had other things for us to eat. But then Mr. Munch – well, he said I could bring my own lunch from my own home if I wanted to and I think I may just do that, mam.”
“You can call me Maggie, you don’t have to call me mam. That makes me feel old.”
Truman once again heard her mystical voice in his head, and he began to shake and scratch at his face. “I want you inside me Truman, right here, right now.”
“All right then – Maggie. Say, do you happen to like Seinfeld?”
“You mean the TV show?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty funny I guess, but let’s talk more about – ”
“Would you like to come over to my house and watch it with me some night?” Truman nervously blurted out. “I would love to kiss on you.”
Maggie Barrymore was a bit stunned and cleared her throat before she spoke again.
“Now Truman, that would be highly inappropriate, and I would appreciate you not ever saying anything like that again. We work together. We are to act professional. Is that understood?”
Her imaginary voice penetrated his mind again. “You can kiss me anywhere you want Truman.”
“I’m sorry Miss Maggie, it’s just that you have such a pretty face and eyes and mouth and neck and – everything else on your body and down there.”
Maggie Barrymore pretended to ignore his obscenely odd remark and nervously shuffled through some things on her desk in hopes of ending the meeting as quickly as possible.
“So, I was going through your file and it looks like you’ve been with us for about four years?”
“So, what brought you to Nawtee?”
“My grandfather owned a house here, and he left it to me when he died, and I had nowhere else to go after my folks kicked me out of their house in Lincoln, so I came here to live.”
“Why did your parents kick you out?”
“They were tired of me being weird and living in the basement and always talking about lobster and wanting to go live my dream life in Maine. He wasn’t my real dad though, he was just a step, and he was mean to me sometimes. He would tell me that I wasn’t a real man, but that I was just a scared little girl in a man’s body. He just wanted it to be him and my mother by themselves. I never had a real dad, I mean, not that I know of.”
“That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear that. Do you ever talk to your mother anymore?”
“No, she died not too long ago. She had cancer in her brain, and of course my stepdad doesn’t want anything to do with me. So here I am Miss Maggie.”
“I’m awfully sad to hear that Truman. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot.”
“Hadn’t we all Miss Maggie? Hadn’t we all.”
Even though he was running late, Truman took his time biking to the Nawtee Pop n Shop Food Market to work his cashier shift. He could not stop thinking about Maggie Barrymore though – her sensual curves, the way she tapped a pencil against her pillowy lips when she listened to him talk, the way she crinkled her petite nose when she adjusted her eyeglasses, the way she filled the entire office with her feminine scent – and at one point in his daydreaming ride, Truman closed his eyes completely and just sailed peacefully, as if he were on a lobster boat on the big, big ocean, hugging Miss Maggie close to him in the wind and salty sea air – but when he finally opened his eyes, his daydream ended suddenly, and he found himself crashing into a big, blue mailbox.
“Damn it all to hell!” Truman cursed, as he picked himself up off the ground and slapped dirt off his now torn pants. A pack of wild teenagers loitering nearby on the sidewalk pointed at him and burst out laughing.
“Hey moron, watch out for the mailbox!” one of them yelled.
Truman tried to ignore them, but he was boiling on the inside as he got back on his now wobbly bike and rode past them. The pack of wild, loitering teenagers just laughed at him as he rolled down the sidewalk, desperately trying to maintain his balance on the smashed up bicycle.
When Truman arrived at the Nawtee Pop n Shop Food Market he was a sweaty, riled mess. He chained his damaged bicycle to the OUT OF ORDER kiddie horse ride outside the store and rushed inside, nearly knocking over an old woman coming out of the store carrying her groceries.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going, you jackass!” the old lady yelled at him.
Truman clenched his jaw. He wanted to turn around and punch her right in the face and then throw her damn groceries all over the parking lot. But he did not do that.
Instead, he was screaming like mad on the inside as he walked into the employee lounge and punched in for his shift.
“Damn it! I’m twelve minutes late!” he yelled.
Some of his co-workers who were sitting around a table drinking Coke and munching popcorn snickered amongst themselves. Suddenly, as if it were magic, the store manager, Mr. Goldeneye, was standing right behind him. His thick arms were folded and resting on his blubbery belly and he had a stern look on his face when Truman turned.
“Jiminy Cricket! You scared the jeepers out of me Mr. Goldeneye.”
“You’re nearly fifteen minutes late Truman, and we’re busy as hell out there.”
“I’m sorry sir, I got tied up at my other job and then well, I had a bicycle accident.”
Mr. Goldeneye looked Truman up and down with a hint of suspicion mixed with disgust.
“You look like hell. Now go clean up and get on register 1.”
“Hello. How are you today? Did you find everything OK?”
“Hello. How are you today? Did you find everything OK?”
“Hello. How are you today? Did you find everything OK?”
The moronic monotony of it all was murder, Truman thought to himself, as he robotically scanned groceries, pushed buttons and took money.
Then a certain item caught his attention as he ran it over the scanner. He looked up at the customer – a chunky chick with a bad complexion and tattoos all over her chubby arms.
“Excuse me mam,” Truman said. “But do you realize this is IMITATION lobster.”
The lady smacked her gum and looked at Truman with odd wonder.
“Yeah, so what?” she said, somewhat offended.
“Well, it’s not real lobster, it’s fake lobster, says so right here on the package.”
“Well, I don’t care if it’s fake lobster and I don’t care for your input about my groceries, cashier man. Now just ring up my shit so I can get out of here.”
Truman clutched the package of imitation lobster and just stared at her.
“Well?” the lady shrugged, “are you going to do your job or not?”
Truman looked around. Everything seemed so damn crazy to him. His line was growing longer and people were growing impatient. All the noise and rattle tattle of the place became one blaring sound and even his vision got a bit fuzzy.
“Hello!” the chunky chick said, waving her hands in front of Truman’s face. “Earth to cashier. Anybody there?”
“I’m sorry mam, I can’t let you do it,” Truman said.
And with that, he threw the package of imitation lobster as hard as he could across the store. It hit someone in the head.
“Hey!” someone yelled from far off.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing!?” yelled the chunky chick. “I want to speak to your supervisor right now!”
Truman got on the intercom and spoke nervously.
“Umm, hello, is anyone there? Mr. Goldeneye, please report to register one for customer assistance. Over and out. Have a nice day – and stuff.”
The chunky chick who tried to buy imitation lobster turned to the customer in line behind her.
“Can you believe this shit?” she said, shaking her bloated head.
“Ugh, I know,” the other customer said. “This guy is the worst cashier they have. I hate coming here.”
Mr. Goldeneye waddled over to the checkout stand with his usual faux smile plastered to his fat face.
“Is there a problem here?” he asked cheerfully.
“There sure as hell is,” the chubby tattooed chick who tried to buy imitation lobster said. “Your moron cashier here started giving me crap about buying imitation lobster – and then, he threw the damn package and I think it hit someone.”
Mr. Goldeneye looked at Truman and sighed. Then he got on the intercom.
“Mary, Joseph, I need your help at register one please. Thank you.”
The two workers reported as asked.
“Mary, take over here for Truman. Joseph, would you please help this customer replace the item she would like to buy.”
“Aye, aye captain,” they said in unison, clicking their heels together and saluting him.
Mr. Goldeneye tapped the tip of his pen on his desk and just stared at him. Truman shifted uncomfortably in the chair.
Mr. Goldeneye leaned forward.
“Well, I have no choice but to let you go Truman. You’re behavior tonight was inexcusable. I mean, what the hell were you thinking?”
“I was just trying to save her from making a terrible mistake.”
“Well, we don’t pay you to make choices for our customers. We pay you to ring up their shit and take their money and act like you love doing it. That’s it. I mean, who the hell do you think you are?”
Truman looked at the floor dejectedly.
“I guess I’m nobody.”
“You know what? You’re probably right. Now go clean out your locker and get the hell out of here. I don’t ever want to see you in here again.”
“But, where am I supposed to buy my food then?”
“I don’t give a dead moose’s last shit where you buy your food, just don’t ever come in here again!”
After gathering his meager belongings from his locker at the Nawtee Pop n Shop Food Market for the very last time, Truman went outside and retrieved his broken bicycle from where it was attached to the OUT OF ORDER kiddie horse ride.
He didn’t try to ride it, instead he just pushed it as he walked. He went along the main drag and then crossed over near the Super 8 motel. He kept walking north, past dirty fields, broken down houses and abandoned furniture. Traffic headed toward I-80 and out of town was whizzing by on his right and every once in a while a car packed with bastards would honk at him or throw food or empty beer cans at him as they passed. Truman let it all bounce off, like he always did.
The sun was dropping when he finally arrived home. He let his bike fall to the ground and he went inside. He closed all the curtains and turned on a few lights. He went into the bathroom and studied the empty tub as he urinated in the toilet. He decided against taking a bath and instead put his pajamas on right over his dirty skin. He went to the kitchen and fetched out an old phonebook from a bookcase he had there. He opened it to the B section and ran his finger down the page.
“Hello, is this Maggie?”
“Yes, who is calling please?”
“It’s me, Truman, from the chicken plant.”
“Truman? How did you get my number?”
“It’s in the phone book.”
“Oh – well, what can I do for you?”
“Hmm. I had a bad day and was wondering if you’d like to come over and talk.”
“Truman, you know I can’t do that. Why don’t you stop by my office tomorrow and we can set up an appointment.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to come over? Or maybe I can come to your house.”
“No Truman, really, you can’t be doing this. I could lose my job. You could lose your job.”
“I don’t really care about that anymore,” Truman said. “I just want to see you. You’re so fetching and I had such a bad day.”
“I’m sorry Truman – I have to go now.”
She hung up.
“Froot Loops! Froot Loops! Froot Loops!” Truman shouted, and he threw the phone against the wall as hard as he could and it shattered.
Truman called in sick to the chicken plant the next morning and then rode his wobbly bike to the car rental office and rented a car. He threw his busted bike into the trunk and drove to the next town over where they had a bicycle shop that could fix it for him. He stopped at a bar in the other town and had a few drinks. No one talked to him. He paid his tab and drove back to Nawtee.
It was near 5 in the p.m. and he was parked outside the chicken plant main office waiting for Maggie Barrymore to emerge. And when she finally did come out, Truman’s heart thumped and he got all shimmery in his stomach. He watched her carefully as she strolled through the parking lot like a blonde goddess headed to a festival for blonde goddesses. She got in her car, started it and drove out of the parking lot. Truman began to follow her, being careful not to get too close for fear that she may recognize him. She made a right, then a left and then another right. She pulled into the driveway of a neatly kept little house. The garage door opened and she pulled the car in. The garage door went back down.
Truman strummed at the steering wheel with his fingertips and then quickly drove away and went back home.
Once there, he began shaving his face as he filled the tub with hot, hot water. Once the whiskers were cleared away, he splashed water on his face and then looked at himself in the mirror over the sink. It had been a long, long time since he had seen himself without the scruff.
He set a small mirror and a pair of scissors on the edge of the tub and got in. He dipped his entire head in the hot water and then came up for air. He took a comb and ran it through his thin, long blonde hair. He twisted some strands together in his fingers and snipped it with the scissors. He did this again and again and again until his hair was very short. He studied himself in the mirror.
“There he said,” out loud to no one. “Now I look like a man.”
He scrubbed at his body hard with a fresh bar of soap. Then he rinsed. Then he let the water start to drain out. Then he rinsed again.
He climbed out of the tub and dried off. He spread after shave lotion all over his face, across his arms and chest and over his private parts. He smelled himself and he thought that he smelled very good.
“Now that’s what I call super fresh,” he said, pointing to himself in the mirror and winking. Then he brushed his teeth and swirled mouthwash around in his mouth.
He walked into his bedroom and opened the closet door. He pulled out his one nice pair of pants and his one nice button-down shirt and threw them on the bed. He put on fresh underwear and socks and then the shirt and pants. He dug around in his closet for his nicest pair of shoes. He found them, but he had to blow the dust off of them.
Once completely dressed, he looked at himself in the mirror again.
“Damn, I’m one hot guy,” he said proudly. And he grabbed the keys to the rental car and drove to the other side of town.
Truman parked at the end of the block and walked to Maggie Barrymore’s house. He was beaming with confidence. But once he got closer, he suddenly stopped. There was another car parked in her driveway. He moved closer and ducked behind a tree. He peered out and saw that there were some lights on in the house. He snuck up closer, then closer, then closer until he was crouched down in some bushes beneath a window on the side of the house. His heart was beating out of control, he began to sweat. His nervous condition was becoming his worst enemy once again. He tried to breathe slowly and calm himself.
Then he heard noises coming from the house. He strained to hear. Yes, they were noises, people noises. Not talking, but moaning noises he thought. Maggie was moaning. She was moaning! Truman couldn’t take it anymore and he slowly went up, like a periscope, and peered into the window. He nearly vomited his heart out when he saw what he saw.
There was Maggie Barrymore, naked on her bed, her legs spread wide, and there was Mr. Munch on top of her, pounding into her like an animal. Tears began to roll down Truman’s face as he watched him kiss her hard as they engaged in furious intercourse – in and out, in and out, in and out – and he could watch no more and he walked away, down the sidewalk. Truman threw up in the street and then he got back into the rental car and drove off with a fury.
The next day was Saturday and Truman stayed in bed all day, but he didn’t sleep much, he just stared at his lobster-shaped ceiling fan; the blades looked like big lobster claws as they spun and spun and spun. No matter how hard he tried, he could not erase the image of Miss Maggie and Mr. Munch, together. Mr. Munch? How could she? He tossed and turned in his sweaty sheets until he dozed off.
And then it was Sunday morning and everything was quiet, yet so hurtful. Truman lazily walked into the kitchen and prepared himself a bowl of Froot Loops. He sat at the kitchen table and stared out the window at the ever brightening morning as he slowly crunched and munched.
“Froot Loops! Froot Loops! Froot Loops!” he screamed, and he tossed the bowl of cereal against the window and it made a milky mess as it dripped down the glass.
Truman pulled onto Interstate 80 at about 10 in the a.m. and gunned the rental car east toward Lincoln. He shoved his favorite Ocean Sounds CD into the dash and tried to relax, but he found that extremely difficult to do given his present tense circumstances.
He dug his fingernails into the steering wheel and accelerated.
“Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!” he screamed, nearly losing control of the vehicle. He wiped at his brow with the back of his hand and flipped the nervous sweat away.
“I’ll show her! I’ll show her!” he shouted out, as the sound of crashing waves poured out of the speakers.
And he didn’t say anything anymore until he reached the outer limits of Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Ah, there it is you bastards!” he exclaimed, as he took the next exit off the interstate. He made a few turns and then pulled into the parking lot of a Red Lobster restaurant.
Truman killed the engine, bowed his head and folded his hands in prayer. He whispered to himself for a bit and then said “Amen!” aloud. He opened the car door and got out.
Once inside, Truman felt completely at peace as he admired the décor and smelled the seafood smells.
“Hello sir, how many today?” the bubbly hostess asked as she greeted him.
“I’ll be dining alone my dear,” Truman responded with a smile and a nod.
“Wow, I love your outfit,” the hostess said.
“Why thank you my dear,” he replied, lifting a red top hat from his head and bowing to her. And as he followed her through the restaurant with a gentleman’s strut, he gently wiped at his red tuxedo with his red gloves and straightened his red bow tie.
“Will this table be okay?”
The table was right in the center of the restaurant and Truman looked around at all the people staring at him and whispering.
“This will be perfect, thank you very much.”
Truman took his seat. He removed his top hat and gloves and set them down on an empty chair beside him. He pulled out a monocle and then began to study the menu with great interest, saying aloud things like – “Oh, now that looks yummy.” And “Oh my, that just looks fantabulous.” And “Good golly Miss Molly I’ll have that!”
“Good afternoon sir, my name is Maggie and I’ll be taking care of you today.”
“Maggie!” Truman yelped. “Why, isn’t that just dandy as candy!”
“Oh nothing Maggie, don’t mind me. I just recently had my heart thrown into a blender by a woman named Maggie. It’s no big deal. But say, could I get some of those luscious lobster nachos to start off with.”
“Absolutely sir, and would you care for a cocktail or something else to drink?”
“A COCKtail?! Now Maggie dear, you certainly have a dirty little mouth don’t you, but I guess that’s no surprise.”
“Sir, is there something wrong? Would you like someone else to serve you?”
“My apologies Maggie. No, you will do just fine dear. I mean, you can’t ALL be whores, am I right?”
“Sir, with all due respect, I’m not a whore and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use that kind of language here at Red Lobster.”
“You’re right Maggie and I am so sorry. Now, it’s time to get down to business. I’ll have a big glass of your finest beer, a big glass of your finest wine and one of those fruity drinks with the lobster straw.”
“Okay, I’ll get to work on that right away,” she said, and she twirled away.
“Wow, she’s got a great ass!” Truman blurted out, as if no one else was around.
The other diners stared at Truman in disbelief. Some even got up and left the restaurant.
And then it was the mysterious manager that came over to speak to Truman.
“Sir, is everything all right here. We’ve gotten some complaints from other guests.”
“Complaints about me?” Truman asked, somewhat surprised.
“I’m afraid so sir, and if you could just be a bit more quiet and refrain from the bad language, I would really appreciate that, as would our other guests. We want to provide a pleasurable dining experience for everyone. You understand, don’t you?”
“Absolutely sir, absolutely. My sincerest apologies.”
“Here you are sir, the lobster nachos, your beer, your wine and your fruity drink with the lobster straw.”
Truman rubbed his hands together in delight and then touched waitress Maggie gently on the arm.
“Maggie my dear, this looks fantastic – and I do apologize for being such a bastard earlier. I do hope you forgive me.”
“It’s OK sir. Are you ready to order?”
“Yes! Indeed I am. I will be indulging in your glorious Lobster Feast!”
“Excellent choice sir. Garden or Caesar salad to go with your meal?”
Wonderful. I’ll put this order in right away and I’ll bring you some biscuits. In the meantime, let me know if there is anything else you need.”
“I will most definitely do that Maggie,” Truman said, and he took a long, hard gulp of his beer and dug into the lobster nachos. Then he drained the big glass of wine and ate more of the nachos. Then he slurped on the fruity drink with the lobster straw and sucked down the last bit of the lobster nachos.”
Truman belched a long, nasty belch that sounded like distant thunder.
“Damn, excuse me,” Truman apologized to the crowd, who in turn replied:
“That man should be locked in a cage.”
“Here’s your biscuits sir, can I get you anything else.”
“Yes Maggie, you may. Heh, Maggie May, you get it? It’s like a Rod Stewart song I think. Anyways Maggie, you may get me another beer and another wine, ah hell, make it two more beers and two more wines, but fuck that fruity drink, I wasn’t all crazy about that anyway, oh, and one more thing, how about your phone number?”
“Sorry sir, I have a boyfriend, and he’s not nearly as disgusting as you are.”
And with that, waitress Maggie walked off and started arguing with the mysterious manager.
And then it was a big man waitress who brought Truman his drinks and his Caesar salad and set them down on the table.
“Who the hell are you?” Truman asked.
“I’m Cliff, I’m taking over for Maggie.”
“Well, is she sick or something?”
“Yeah, she’s sick all right. I’ll go check on your food.”
Truman thought to himself how the old waitress switcheroo thing was quite queer as he munched on his salad and biscuits and washed it down with beer and wine.
“Cliff. Pffft. Who wants a waiter named Cliff?” Truman mumbled.
And then it was the big, lame Cliff coming to his table with the big steaming Lobster Feast plate.
“Here you are sir. How does that look?”
Truman’s eyes grew wide as he looked over the luscious Lobster Feast.
“Cliff, this looks fucking fantastic. Thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome sir, and please, let me know if there is anything else you need.”
Truman cracked the lobster open and pulled out the succulent meat. He held it over his face like the old time Romans did when they ate grapes, and he slurped it down his throat.
“Ahhhh, lobster goodness,” Truman said with elated pleasure, and he ate and he ate and he ate until he could eat no more.
Truman wobbled out of the restaurant with a bloated belly and a spinning head. He got into his rental car and just sat there for a long time, watching people coming and going. He suddenly felt eerily all alone as he watched the couples and the families all enjoying an afternoon out – together. He envied the smiles, he envied the laughter, he envied the hand holding, he envied all that seemed to be alive around him. He sighed a heavy sigh and then patted at the heavy revolver that sat in the passenger seat. He started the engine and drove back to Nawtee at a reasonable pace.
It was late afternoon when he dropped the car at the rental office. He slipped the keys and the paperwork into the slot and started to walk home. The revolver felt heavy in his pocket and his stomach was still full and he had a hangover. Then someone pulled up beside him and honked. This of course startled Truman and he jumped.
“Hey Truman, what are you doing?”
It was Maggie Barrymore.
Truman was shocked.
“I’m just walking home.”
“I can give you a ride if you want.”
Truman moved closer to the driver-side window where she was leaning out, smiling and looking beautiful, but what he really saw in his foggy head was her and Mr. Munch naked in bed and grinding away.
“You don’t mind? I mean, you won’t get in trouble?”
“No, hop in.”
Truman moved to the other side of the car and got in. The car smelled just like her and his heart started thumping. He looked over at her. She was wearing short pants and he quickly glanced down at her long, lean legs as they worked the pedals. He had to turn away from her and look out the window.
“You look different without your office clothes,” he said to her.
“Yeah, I must look like a bum, but hey, it’s my day off, right? But, what’s with you and the tux?”
“I had a fancy dinner in Lincoln and I like to dress up when I go there.”
“That’s cool. Were you visiting friends?”
“No, just by myself. I went to Red Lobster.”
“It’s my favorite place to eat.”
“Oh, OK. So, where do you live?”
“At the end of Corn Street, it’s just up here on the left and then go all the way down.”
Maggie Barrymore steered the car down Corn Street and pulled into Truman’s driveway.
“That’s a nice little house you got there,” she said. “You know, I feel kind of bad about the other day and I was kind of rude to you on the phone. I’m sorry about that.”
“Oh, that’s OK, you were just being professional is all.”
“Hey, you shaved,” and Maggie reached out her hand and touched his smooth face.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
“And look, I cut my hair too,” Truman said, and he removed his top hat to show her.
“Oh yeah, wow, it looks … great.”
“Would you like to come in and watch some Seinfeld with me?” Truman asked shyly.
Maggie thought for a minute.
“You know, I think I do. Sure. It will be fun.”
Truman was elated.
“That’s great Miss Maggie because I got to get out of this tux, it’s awfully uncomfortable.”
Maggie just laughed and then touched his hand. Then she leaned over and kissed him tenderly on the cheek.
“Have a seat on the couch there and I’m just going to go change my clothes,” Truman said to her.
Maggie looked around his house with odd curiosity.
“You sure do have a lot of lobster stuff,” she called out to him.
“Well, yes, I suppose I do,” Truman yelled from the bedroom.
And then there was Maggie at the bedroom door looking at Truman who was nearly naked. When he saw her, he stumbled back and nearly fell over.
“It’s OK Truman. I think you know where this is leading. You don’t have to be shy.”
She walked over to him and touched his shoulders. Truman was shaking like a leaf in a wind storm.
“Just relax Truman, it will be OK.”
Maggie started kissing his neck as she ran her hand down his bony back and onto his quivering butt. She kissed his cheek again and then moved to his mouth.
“Do you like that?” she whispered.
“Very much,” Truman said.
Maggie removed her top and her bra.
“You can touch me if you want.”
Truman reached out his shaky hands and placed them on her perfect breasts.
“You are very beautiful,” Truman said to her, and he pulled his hands away.
“Hey, that’s a nice bathtub. You want to take a bath?”
“I love taking baths,” he said, and he went to the tub and started the water.
“You get in first,” Maggie said, “and I’ll wash you.”
Truman climbed into the tub of hot, hot water.
“You don’t mind me watching you take a bath?” Maggie asked him, her voice slightly changing.
“No Miss Maggie, I don’t mind at all.”
And then she pushed down hard on Truman’s head and held him under the water. He splashed and kicked furiously until she pulled him back up.
“Miss Maggie! Miss Maggie! Truman screamed, what are you doing!?”
“You were outside my house the other night watching me, weren’t you Truman? You peeping Truman. You were going to tell on me, weren’t you? It’s not nice to look at naked girls doing naughty things!”
“No Miss Maggie, I just wanted to see you is all. I’m sorry Miss Maggie.”
And she pushed him under the water once more and held him there, a little longer this time. When she pulled him up, he was coughing and gasping.
“Why are you doing this Miss Maggie? Please stop!” Truman pleaded. “I just wanted to love you is all. I just wanted to love somebody for once. There’s no harm in that!”
“You’d never be able to love me the way I’d want you to love me. How dare you think such a thing!” Maggie sneered, and she pushed him down under the water again and held him there until his body finally stopped kicking and twitching.
After getting dressed, she left him there and went into the living room and switched on the TV and DVD player.
The Hamptons episode of Seinfeld started playing but Truman was not there to watch it.
“Hah,” Maggie laughed out loud. She left the show playing, walked out of the house and drove away.