By Miranda Crites
Greasy smoke lingered in the air, dancing around the dim lights of the restaurant. Chuck had been burning fries and hushpuppies in the deep fryer for twenty-five years now. The front door opened with a light screech – you’d think with all the grease floating in the air there wouldn’t be any need for oiling hinges. A curvy redhead walked in and surveyed the patrons, her eyes settling on a lone man at the bar with hunched shoulders. His head hung over his beer as he attempted to drown whatever sorrows he’d brought with him to Chuck’s.
She sauntered to the bar and sat on one of the red padded stools, leaving two seats between her and the man.
“Well, look what the cat dragged in!” Chuck exclaimed. “I haven’t seen you for a few days. Bloody Mary?”
“Please! It’s been a long week. I might need a whole pitcher, Chuck.”
Chuck laughed. “As always, my girl. Anything else? I’ve got the fixin’s for loaded nachos back here.”
“Oh, hell! Load them up tall, my man! You know I can’t resist a chance at heartburn!”
She had caught the new man’s attention.
“Excuse me, sir, can I get some of those nachos?” he asked.
“Yep,” Chuck replied. “Fully loaded?”
“Oh, yeah. I do like it spicy,” he replied while trying not to look directly at the lovely woman to his right.
She looked at him, nearly rolling her eyes, but this is what she’d come here for after all, wasn’t it?
“You might be in luck, then – what’s your name?”
“I’m Garrett,” he responded and slid down a stool, leaving one between them.
“Hi, Garrett, I’m Ginger—”
“No shit? Really?”
“You really are a spicy dish, huh?”
“Oh, you have no idea,” Ginger nearly purred.
By the time Garrett had swallowed three more beers, he was almost sliding off his stool. He’d spilled most of his life story, but Ginger was a good listener. It would all be worth it in the end. He’d been dumped by his girlfriend just after New Year’s Eve, but he’d found out only yesterday that she and her boyfriend – he’d been her ex when she was with Garrett – had gone on a Valentine’s cruise and gotten married. He had hoped to win her back. Garrett had proposed on New Year’s Eve. Charlotte had said no and shattered his heart. When he found out about her marriage to her ex, he’d hit the road in his Charger – he talked a lot about the car – to clear his mind and hopefully to find himself and some sanity again. When he’d finally stopped for gas, he saw the motel across the road and decided to stay the night. The attached restaurant had a bar and seemed like the perfect place to begin his healing journey.
Ginger was glad Garrett’s sorrows had brought him to her. She’d heard many variations of the same story over the years. Lonely truckers, men with unfaithful wives or crazy ex-girlfriends, or whatever their sad story was, Ginger listened and sympathized. She petted them and boosted their confidence. The truly heartbroken were always the best. The ones who were only out looking for a good time bored her immensely.
“You’ve devoured those nachos! Dang, woman!” Garrett laughed.
“And if I’m lucky, I’ll devour you next,” she whispered in his ear.
“You lucky? Ohhh—”
Setting up another beer and Bloody Mary, Chuck interrupted, “Don’t be running off my customers now, Miss Ginger, I’ve bills to pay!” Then he winked and went to make more drinks.
“So, how do you know Chuck?” Garrett asked.
“Chuck kind of adopted me when I was a kid. My parents were killed in an accident. He took care of me. Well, he still does, I guess. We’re like brother and sister, really.”
“I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked,” he trailed off. He was starting to slur his words.
“No, really, it’s okay. It was a long time ago. Hey, let’s finish these drinks. I’ve got a suite above the office. I actually live here. If you’d like to come with me and check it out…”
“I can’t believe this is happening to me. You’re like a dream!”
“More like a nightmare, really,” she muttered.
“Like a what?”
“Do you want to come up with me or not?”
She yelled over to Chuck, “Hey! I’ll pay up in the morning, Chuck. Goodnight!”
“Have a good one! See you tomorrow!” he called out across the room, continuing to mix drinks.
They walked out of the bar into the small lobby. Garrett still couldn’t believe his luck. Ginger was the hottest woman he’d ever been with. Well, he hadn’t been with her yet, but he was getting closer! It was a good thing he was drunk, or he’d be a little more nervous.
Ginger pointed to the purple car sitting in the parking lot.
“Is the purple car yours?”
“Yeah! It’s a Special Edition. It’s one of only 1,400 ever made.”
Great, she’d gotten him started about the car again. She plucked a red rose from a vase and placed it between Garrett’s teeth before taking his hand and leading him up the stairs to her suite.
After unlocking the door, she led him to the couch and removed the rose from his mouth. She kissed him gently on the lips.
“So, I – I don’t have any protection. I wasn’t really planning for anything like this to happen. I…um,” he stammered.
“Protection? Like holy water or something?”
“Wha–?” he began to ask but lost his train of thought when her dress slithered to the floor.
She took off his shirt before she straddled his legs and sat on his lap, pressing her lips to his neck. He moaned. She moved down, trailing kisses down his chest, stopping at his stomach.
“I’ve never been so lucky,” he said. “Let me get out of these pants.”
“Whatever for, Garrett? I told you earlier I was going to devour you.”
She stuck out her tongue and licked her lips. Her tongue began to swell, growing until it was a large tentacle with several rows of shark-like teeth. Garrett screamed. Once. The tentacle grew longer, branching out into multiple slithering tentacles. One latched onto his tongue and began feeding. Another slashed through the soft tissue of his stomach and began to slurp the juices from his intestines. A third ripped through his chest and began to suck like a greedy wild animal at his heart. By morning, only his clothes remained. Garrett had been completely devoured.
Ginger made her way downstairs early the next morning. Peeking outside, she saw the Charger was gone. Chuck was scrambling eggs and frying bacon in the kitchen.
“Morning, Ginger!” he called out to her. “Bacon and eggs?”
“Good morning. Yes, and French toast, please.”
“Coming right up.”
“So, I don’t see the Charger out front. I guess that more than covers my tab for a while.”
“You could say that. Here’s your breakfast. If you devour that like everything else, there’s plenty more back here,” he said as he turned back to the kitchen, whistling.
Miranda Crites is a reader, writer, book reviewer, photographer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia.
The writing bug bit Miranda at a very early age. She was pretty much born with a pen and a camera in her hands. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old.
When not writing, Miranda enjoys spending time with her family. She and her family spend a lot of time off the grid where they are building a cabin in the supposedly haunted woods.
Miranda is self-employed. She and her husband create large and small vinyl decals, t-shirts, signs, and a plethora of creative customized items.
Some of her many hobbies when time allows are: making unique crafts and artwork, painting, hiking, and, of course, photography.
She has a diploma for Writing for Children and Teenagers although most of her current work is horror fiction and poetry.
Miranda is a member of Team Kendall Reviews at www.KendallReviews.com where you can find her horror book reviews and her monthly feature, Miranda Snaps, which generally contains horror fiction and photography.
Miranda is one of “The Thirty,” which is a group of thirty authors who are each taking a turn in writing a chapter of an in-progress horror novel.
You can follow Miranda on Instagram Miranda_C_rites
Follow Miranda on Twitter @Miranda_C_rites