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Paper, Paper! Read All About It!

March 10, 2009

Another inspiring prompt from Selma at Search Engine Stories got my brain working in overdrive and has brought the dark side out of me for a piece of fiction this week.


Paper, Paper! Read All About It!

March 10, 2009                                     Bakersville Times Gazette

Man Shoots Waitress: No Roast Beef!

A waitress of over 30 years at Riser’s Café lost her life last night because the restaurant had sold out of their well known roast beef dinner.  Nathan Keiser, 22, a loyal patron of the popular diner shot Melanie Hartman, 58, after she returned to his table to inform him the kitchen had run out of roast beef, according to the restaurant’s owner, Paul Segrest.  Keiser is the great-great-grandson of the late Lloyd Baker, founding father of Bakersville. Keiser will be arraigned this afternoon on one count of murder. Full story in tomorrow’s edition.


Everyday newspapers across the country report the world and local news. Most days, readers glance through the latest happenings in their hometown, get a recap of the game the night before, check their horoscope, scan the obituaries, and enjoy a few laughs from the comics as they finish their morning coffee before rushing out the door to work.  Occasionally a headline story interrupts their mundane ritual of reading the morning paper at the family kitchen table. Readers are shocked by the horrendous act of violence listed in bold print across the top of paper.  They hurriedly read through the article, only to become horrified to learn the unprecedented  violence has not only been committed in their sleepy little town, but by one of their own. And not just by “any one” of  “their own”, but by a member of the wealthiest family in town! Readers forget about the basketball stats and what the stars have in their future for the day in lieu of a re-reading of the headline event in hopes of being able to read between the lines to make sense of the senseless act. Phones ring all over town as readers share their astonishment with family and friends, and to get the latest gossip from anyone who professes to be in the know. Running later than usual, reader’s rush to their vehicles shaking their heads in disbelief; what could possibly have driven such an upstanding member of the community to commit such a frightful crime – over a roast beef dinner! Maybe tomorrow’s paper would have answers to explain how a sane citizen went insane in a matter of minutes.

But of course the newspaper will only print what is politically correct for the family. Extreme stress will be given as the cause. The Baker Family Estate will pay all funeral expenses for the deceased. Nathan Keiser will plead temporary insanity. What will not be reported are the events that  led up to pushing Nathan over the edge of sanity .

Now for the rest of the story:

Nathan’s mother defied her parents and grandparents, running off to marry a man of the Jewish faith twenty- three years before. Her family disowned her and their grandchild for 4 years, until her unfaithful husband left her for another woman. For the next 7 years, Nathan would ask his mother when his father would be coming home. She would always reply, maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow never came.

Although the family saw to it Nathan and his mother had an acceptable place to live, clothes on their backs and just enough food in their pantry, for appearance sake, they were never welcomed back into the fold with open arms. Throughout his adolescence, Nathan questioned why he could not have a bike like all the neighborhood boys, or clothes like his classmates. His mother’s answer was always, maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow never came.

Nathan began working at a local service station when he turned 16, pumping gas and washing windshields. He saved his money to buy a car as an 18th birthday present for himself. A month before his birthday, his mother “borrowed” his savings to pay off loans and catch up utility bills. When he asked where his money was, his mother explained their need and promised to pay him back tomorrow. Tomorrow never came.

At age 19, Nathan fell in love. He and his sweetheart were inseparable during that summer of love. One night, she told him she was pregnant. Nathan was ecstatic, she was not. She wanted an abortion. Nathan refused. She said they would talk about it again tomorrow. Tomorrow never came for his child.

Two years later, Nathan fell in love again. After dating for a year, Nathan asked her to marry him. She said yes. For three months, he would ask when they could set a date for their wedding. His fiancé would always reply, maybe tomorrow. Returning home to their apartment on the afternoon of March 8th, Nathan found a hastily written note lying on the kitchen counter; “I’m sorry” is all she wrote. Tomorrow never came.

Several hours later, just before closing time, Nathan walked into his favorite restaurant. He loved their roast beef dinner and he wanted to have something he loved before he drove out to Miller’s pond. Melanie had waited on Nathan many times in the past and knew what his order would be; roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes, extra heavy on the gravy, green beans and sweet iced tea. She also knew they had sold their last plate of roast beef not more than 10 minutes before he arrived.

She made his iced tea and placed it in front him. “I’m sorry hon, but we just sold the last of the roast beef. How about fried chicken tonight?”

“What?” Nathan asked.

“I’m real sorry hon, but the roast beef is all gone tonight. Maybe we’ll have some tomorrow.” She assured him.

Nathan sat staring at the glass of iced tea. It was dark and cold like most of his life had been. He took a gun from his coat pocket. It only had one bullet, which he had reserved for himself. He looked up into the startled face of the weary waitress, smiled, and said, “Tomorrow never comes.”

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2009 7:10 am

    The subject matter may be dark, but it is exceptionally well written. Sadly, this is the course of many people’s lives – that sense of never living up to their full potential, or dreams never being realised. Often it’s the small things that break us, isn’t it? Like no roast beef for dinner. I won’t forget this for a while. Shocking and sad.

  2. DavidM permalink
    March 10, 2009 6:31 pm

    Yes. It’s the last straw that breaks the camel back. A well-written and thought provoking piece. Thanks, DavidM

  3. March 12, 2009 10:51 am

    It is so often like this. Dark but full of insight. Excellent.

  4. March 13, 2009 9:25 am

    How sad. It’s so true we never know the whole story. Actually we never know a whole person do we? Even when we think we know them fully in and out, their motivations are only for them to know.
    Interesting take on the prompt, Cricket.

  5. March 13, 2009 12:25 pm

    Great read Cricket! The newspaper motif works so well for you here,and you’ve drawn light to such an important truth. I agree with Selma, sometimes one’s hold on rationality can be extremely fragile, and all it takes is one more little thing. It is so sad, and so unfortunately realistic. Nicely done, this will keep me thinking for some time to come!

  6. March 17, 2009 10:21 pm

    Hi Cricket I was just wondering what has happened to Slice of Life Sunday? Has the meme finished, and what is happening with the publisher?


  7. March 23, 2009 11:56 am

    What a great story. Maybe a little dark, but many will always say Maybe Tomorrow.

    Love and Hugs,

  8. April 6, 2009 5:02 pm

    Well-written and thought-provoking. Just what I’ve come to expect from Cricket.

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