Diner Theogeny

In the middle of the night an egg.

It was Gay’s cafe originally, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, forty eight weeks a year—she took two weeks off, spring and fall, for her vacations—rain, snow, drought, fire, it made no difference. She had a generator out back and the freezer was a dirt cellar before it was a walk-in; the only time she closed it was when St. Helens burst and the whole town was evacuated. Even then she was the last out and the first back.

But then Oran kept through, and he was a talker. Charming, clever in small doses, affable as long as things were going his way; you know the type. Smoked too much weed and made a few too many bold claims: he used to work for Boeing (he said) but he left (he said) because he didn’t want the company claiming the patent (he said) for the motorless freight carrier he’d invented (he said). Gonna revolutionize hauling, just as soon as he got it working at full scale.

He spun her round his finger, and after a while they were living together, and a while after that he started helping out around the diner, and then it wasn’t too long before he was doing more and more, and then Gay left for her spring vacation and just didn’t come back. Staying with her sister down at Rockaway, he said. He was just keeping the lights on, he said.

Lies, of course; he’d locked her in the basement and kept her down there for years while we figured she’d merely got wise and cut her losses. We didn’t get the straight of it until the son he’d kept locked down with her broke the lock and hacked his nuts off with a kitchen knife. Served him right. He was at Coyote Ridge for a while before they shipped him out of state; up to Montana somewhere, maybe.

Anyway, Gay doesn’t work the grill much these days, but the son still does. Corran’s his name; he’s not much of a talker.