Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One themed story by John A. Ward

Silver Screen Café
by John A. Ward

In a frenzy of DVD delight, I watch the Seven Samauri and both of its derivatives, the Magnificent Seven and the Three Amigos. My cinematic craving is insatiable, so I jump in my car and head for the Silver Screen Café.

The desserts have the names of movie melodies. I order Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It’s spumoni ice cream, three layers, red, white and green. That’s cherry, chocolate and pistachio. Winding around the beach-ball-size scoop of ice cream is a trail of vanilla wafers arranged like cobblestones. I guess that’s supposed to be the yellow brick road. On top is a castle built from green peppermint candies. That must be the emerald city.

They make me wear green glasses while I eat it. It’s served by a wait staff of three, a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion. As soon as they set it down on the table, flying monkeys come winging out of the kitchen and carry them off. Then the lights go down and a statuesque brunette in ruby slippers comes out singing the aforementioned song in the style of Patti Labelle. In addition, she’s wearing fishnet stockings, a red leather bustier with ice cream cone brassiere cups a la Madonna and a ruby rhinestone thong. They’ve departed a little from the theme here. It’s more than I can eat, but who cares. I can’t wait to try their Toto frankfurter, but it will have to wait until I’m hungry again. The chanteuse has finished her shift, so I talk her into leaving with me. She says her name is Ruby Tuesday.

On my way home, a guy in a lime green Pontiac convertible cuts me off as I’m exiting at Sunset Terrace. He almost causes me to swerve into the pink Cadillac with the Texas Longhorn hood ornament. I mean real longhorns. They’re wider than the Caddie. I can’t see how they can be legal. I wonder if he’s ever gored any bikers.

Anyway, I’m thinking the guy in the Pontiac has something on his mind. He’s wearing a lobster costume and has a crayfish hanging from his upper lip by the pincer. The back seat is full of the little mud bugs, crawling all over each other and snapping. My guess is he’s a free lance purveyor for Cajun restaurants whose delivery van is in the shop.

He’s way out of his territory. There are no Cajun restaurants on this side of town. There are Chinese, Mexican, Italian, all operated by proprietors of Middle Eastern origin, but no Cajun restaurants.

He may be coming from Salado Creek on his way to the Southwest side of town. If I were him, I would have taken I-35 south, not north. He probably intends to get on Loop 410, but missed it, or maybe he’s on his way to Austin. They have any kind of eatery you want there. If so, he’ll never make it, not in this heat with a carload of cantankerous crustaceans.

No sooner do I think that than the Pontiac swerves off to the left of the road, knocks down the muffler and tail-pipe sculpture of a mechanical man outside a body shop and comes to a rattling and scraping stop on the sidewalk. I pull up behind him and survey the damage.

“It doesn’t look like you’ve hurt anything,” I say. “Even the sculpture is no worse than it was before you hit it, but if you try to drive off like this, you’ll do some real damage to both the sculpture and the undercarriage.”

“What am I gonna do?” asks the lobster man. “I have to get these crawdads to the Debone Your Own Diner before they go bad.”

“Looks like they’re already unruly,” says Ruby.

“I forgot about that place. It’s over on Nacogdoches, isn’t it?” I say. “Maybe we could take them for you while you jack up the heap and pull out the tin man. Do you like mud bugs, Ruby?”

“Yeah, but only in an étouffée, not in the back seat. Put them in the trunk,” she said with a toss of her head and a flip of her hip.

“Great, I’ll meet you there,” says lobster man. “I owe you lunch for this.”

“Do you think they’ll be safe in there with the doggie bucket from the café?” says Ruby.

“Sure,” I say. “It looks like it’s sealed pretty well and they’ll be in the cooler.”

After we deliver the live cargo, we sit at a table in the diner and soon lobster man drives into the parking lot. He joins us. “I’m getting off early because it’s New Year’s Eve,” he says. “If you’re going to have lunch, we can do it here before they close or hope to find another place open.”

“Denney’s ™ is always open,” says Ruby.

“If there are just three of us, we can go to a Mexican place, but if we can find four more we can do either Japanese or a steakhouse,” I say.

“What are you talking about?” asks lobster man.

“I just finished watching The Seven Samurai and its sequels,” I say.

“They weren’t really samurai,” says Ruby.

“True, one of them was a farmer pretending to be a warrior,” I say.

“That’s not what I meant,” says Ruby. “Samurai serve a lord. They’re like Medieval Knights in the West. When their lord was killed, they were untenured. They became ronin. Ronin means a wave person, tossed about on the sea. The ronin in the Akira Kurosawa film were hired as yojimbo or security forces.”

“Too complicated,” I say. “We’ll just be the three amigos. Amigos are friends. C’mon, let’s do the amigos’ salute and sing My Little Buttercup.”

Author bio:

John A. Ward was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60's, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine, and became a scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with his dance partner. He has published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Clockwise Cat, Apollo’s Lyre, Toasted Cheese, Green Tricycle, Alighted Ezine, Lit Bits, Cenotaph Pocket Edition, The San Antonio Express-News, Antithesis Common, Wild Child, Holy Cuspidor, Idlewheel, Sentence, Sun Poetic Times, Byline, Quirk, ken*again, R-KV-R-Y, The Smoking Poet, Long Story Short, Cautionary Tale and The Rose & Thorn. Links to his work can be found at

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