Hi, my name is Karen and I’m a foodee. I admit it. I think about food morning, noon, and night… and at snack time. I was blessed with the metabolism of a caffeinated lightning bolt and it would be a shame if I didn’t use it right? If you’re a human who can eat cake, steak, and potatoes without waistline woes, you do it. It’s your duty.
That’s why I started this blog; I thought I could share a little bit of that joy with everybody else. Then we blew up! We’re currently the number five food blog on all of blogchug.com. You guys have been sending me more and more requests, and they keep getting stranger! I went to South America and tried those spices from extinct plants. I went to the Ukraine and had that cheese they tell you you can’t eat if you’re over thirty.
Just wait guys. Our biggest entry yet is coming, and you’ll get to see me eat it. I don’t want to give too much away… but let’s just say it’s going to be legendary.
Karen ducked into the greasy spoon, sweater hood pulled over her face. There was a small chance someone might recognize her, but it was more to keep the rain off. It was dark outside, with only one flickering street lamp revealing the diner’s position. She looked around in mild disgust, which quickly curdled into regular disgust.
It didn’t even have the retro diner charm. There was no counter, just folding tables with a different number of chairs at each. She didn’t feel like speaking to the hairy man behind the counter, so she simply pulled out a chair and made it squeal across the floor. He took the bait and walked over, apron stained to Jackson Pollock perfection.
“What can I getcha?” he grunted more than asked. Karen kept her head down.
“What do you have with iceberg lettuce on it?” she asked. The man scratched his sweaty forehead with the pink eraser at the end of his pencil. The sweat dyed it a dark color, then half of it tore away and bounced on the table, making Karen retract as if she’d seen a roach.
“Never heard a craving for ‘at,” he said, but didn’t seem bothered. “We got burgers. We got salads. Or the one salad I think. Caesar? Yeah, caesar.”
“I’ll have a casar salad please,” she said quickly. He got the message, assumed she was a junkie coming down from something, and moved into the kitchen. Her fingers fidgeted under the table. She couldn’t pull her stuff out yet, so the backpack stayed tucked between her legs. She’d heard this guy would assault people if they brought in outside food, but she had no choice. The dive was the perfect place, the authentic place, to end her quest. She needed to record here, under the fluorescent lights, at the table with one chair.
She couldn’t resist looking at the health score framed on the wall. The paper itself was stained. The letter D stared back at her. The diner was due to close in two days’ time, and if it did she might lose the trail. Everything would go cold: her blog, her passion, and the food as she sullenly shoved it in her mouth.
He came back quickly enough, with a flat salad carelessly presented on a blank plate. He asked her if she wanted a drink, and she told him no. A minute later he was in the back, moving boxes and occasionally dropping pans and swearing. Now was her chance. Nobody else wanted to eat at the D-grade diner, so she was alone.
Technology poured out of her bag: a laptop, which she swiftly opened and activated, a webcam covered in excited pastel stickers, and a smartphone already primed for her social media analytics. After that came the rest of the ingredients: a taco shell in bubble wrap and stuffed with paper to keep it from cracking, a glass container of spiced beef and pork mix from the racing heart of Mexico, cheese from a young cow that had been taught long division, and salsa that could dye your tongue red for a week.
These were the things all her fan tips had led her to. Each ingredient was supposed to be the absolute best in its class. The last thing she was missing? Iceberg lettuce from the carefully tended gardens of Mrs. Alyssa Oneira of Spokane. The problem was, she had died recently at the ripe old age of 1o3. Her garden could not be preserved without her love.
Karen searched desperately for those last few heads shipped out. As far as she knew, the last one was here. Alyssa had supplied that diner for thirty years, starting back when someone competent and less generally smelly had operated the place.
The webcam clicked on with a happy exaggerated winking sound. Her screen lit up. She pulled back her hood and straightened her hair, craning her head to see if the man had returned. Another bout of swearing from the back convinced her she had time.
She assembled the taco as quickly as she could, but without risking a crack to the shell. She paused for a sneeze, and thanked the lord of the internet above that it didn’t actually come out of her nose. She took a deep breath and transferred some of the iceberg lettuce. This was it. She’d heard, from various reliable dark-meat-web sources, that these ingredients had only been assembled once before. It was the legendary taco, and the man who ate it achieved culinary enlightenment. Everything he ate from then on tasted like bliss custard dusted with euphoria. Karen would be next. She would book-end her blog with her incredible transformation and move on to bigger things. TV. Book deals. Photo opportunities.
The only thing stopping her from taking the bite was that D on the wall. They were closing preemptively, because an awful lot of people got sick. All she could do was hope that its legendary status overpowered the salmonella.
“Well guys, see you on the other side,” Karen told the webcam. She took a bite. Flavor exploded in her mouth, and then everywhere else. A curtain of iceberg lettuce was pulled over her eyes. She was her tongue and her tongue was joy. Alas, the salmonella was still salmonella, and was strengthened by the transcendent powers of the other ingredients. Karen was thrilled and sickened, tossed about in her body and then tossed out of it like chum off the back of a trawler.
She wasn’t in Heaven or Hell, culinary or regular. She was in all the food blogs of the world, her soul bathing in warm icing and fillet steam. It was perfect, and her followers would just have to settle for the body she left to rot in the depression of a greasy spoon.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by swetankarmy during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop bytwitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!