Copyright © Arno Le Roux 2017
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronically, electrostatic magnetic tape or mechanically; including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the author. Although this is a fictional work, both the locations, organisations and events are factual. The characters and times in the story line are fictional; therefore, all resemblances to actual people present or past are purely coincidental. Should you wish to contact the Author: [email protected]
All Rights Reserved.
A short story by Arno Le Roux
Café, Eatery or Bistro… On the whole these brightly lit, welcoming signs serve as samples of sometimes age-old delectable processes kept secret, to keep hungry selective patrons going back for more. No two are alike in character and each one boasts to dominate either with the generosity or their portions, their delightfully secretly guarded home made gravies, or those speciality tempting desserts. Whatever magnetises us towards them, they just prepare it better… And of course, then there are the heart-warming hosts… the other ingredient to a mouthwatering experience, that keeps us going back…
While the blinding yellow and red flickering neon signs were pulling families off the main road through Heartville with “Two for the price of one!” “Saturday Dinner Spacials!” and “Upsize & Win!”; a handful of starving residents and one or two peckish passing through sales people, were not the “cheap franchised food in a box…, get a toy with your burger…, or just fried chips…,” supporters, and seldom bothered even a stare in the direction of these so called modern “dinner time marvels”… Much like tonight…
“Heartville’s Diner 200 metres ahead”
“Mom… Dad… you’re not serious…!? The ravenous and annoyed 13 year old Bertrand twins exclaimed from the back seat after the luxurious rental SUV which slowed down, unecpectedly pulled off the saturated main road and onto the loose gravel. Ahead of them through the pouring rain, the vehicle lights landed on what appeared a dire looking establishment with a single faint light trying its utmost to light up a soaked wooden sign “Heartville’s Diner”. “Well we’re basically already out of town guys… and if you two had torn yourselves from your cell phones, you would have noticed the insane queues at all the drive-through’s… plus, although it’s a holiday… let’s try something different that’s not wrapped in paper… hopefully… maybe…” John looked out past the anxiously sweeping windscreen wipers, at the depressing diner and quietly wondered if noticing the signboard 200 meters behind on the road side was a mistake. John knew his boys too well and that the boys were probably already staring back at their phones, so he wasn’t looking in the rear view mirror when he spoke to them. “Babe, it’s 7pm and we’re the only ones in the parking area… well us, and that motorcycle parked over by the door…” Vicky motioned with her eyes, attempting to change his mind…” “Come guys, off the phones… lets go…” John said under his breath and was out in the rain and ran around the back to open the passenger door for his wife. “Well… I’m impressed… you don’t see that anymore…” An older woman’s voice greeted the holiday makers and she showed them to the front door when John looked up. Another vehicle, which decided to turn around in the parking area behind them and head back to town, beamed its headlights momentarily over the older woman at the door. John guessed she was probably in her mid sixties. He noticed she was tall with high cheek bones, exceptionally straigt long grey hair that reached her waist and dressed in a far younger era’s womens boots and tight fitting denim. “Good evening… I’m Hilda” She politely held out her right hand after wiping it on her neatly ironed apron. “Wonder if (we) are the answered prayers for this place for this evening. I doubt that is much cooking inside taking up her time. Suppose it would be awful if the place puts us off and we’d decide to leave before we’re served…” Vicky whispered to John.
Before even being properly introduced, a young voice came from behind John and Vicky… “Do you have Wifi…? The talkative one of the twins asked in his normal demanding tone, while Hilda made a point of greeting the parents first, before responding to the boy’s issue. She waited with a welcoming smile and her firm handshake for the boys. “Oh child, we have lots of things…” Hilda winked at him, and with her hand showed them inside. “But Wifi… do you have that…!?” The boy insisted as he let the family enter while he paused at the door where she stood. Hilda bent down and held her one hand by his ear and whispered… “The fastest in town my boy, and the password…” She looked around as if she was about to share a state secret and continued. “… is groovy gravy… one word, all lower case…” “You’re having me on right…?” And he stared at her, wishing that she was actually serious. “You go see for yourself… see you at your table…” And she smiled courteously and pointed him to his family who already decided on a large candle-lit table close to the wooden bar area.
While the twins were figuring out whether old Hilda was having them on, John and Vicky looked around inspecting the interior, agreeing in hushed voices that it was probably too late and it would be rude to leave anyway. By the time Hilda arrived with four red, worn leather covered menus, the twins faces were wrapped in the biggest smiles all day. “Thank you… and sorry for doubting you…” the earlier demanding boy apologised. “Not at all… and thank you for your good manners… just like Dad…” and she handed each a menu. “Opening the door for your wife, in the rain outside… old school… well done…” Hilda cleared up the confused looks on the couple’s faces. “Glad you came early, it should pick up in a while… shall I get you all something to drink while you decide..?” John and Vicky looked at each other wondering whether Hilda was being serious or just wish full. John looked over at the bar and noticed a half full tall glass and wondered whether Hilda helped herself to the refreshments to pass time. “To drink..?” Vicky squeezed his hand slightly. “I’m sorry, yes two filter coffees, one black one white and… boys…” John waited for the twins, who apparently found the out of place technology in the oddest of settings quite to their satisfaction. “Hilda, the boys were thinking of donating their phones… interested…” “Sorry Dad, hot chocolate please Hilda…” both replied and smiling Hilda left the table after imparting a wink. “Did you see the menu Dad…?” “Dad…?” But John was looking around the bar, then scanned back over his shoulder as he absorbed the solitude in the thirty something tabled diner and faced back towards the “Gents” sign over the door past a lonely pool table. “Sorry… yes? I mean no… why… what are you in the mood for…?” He replied seemingly slightly distracted, as he opened his menu. “Unusual…” John answered the earlier question and read it out…
Beef soup … price YD
Garlicky peppered liver, farm bread, groovy gravy… price YD
300g Medium done fillet, mashed p
ovy gravy… price YD
Groovy gravy flavoured shaved ice… price YD
Filter Coffee… price YD
All Teas… price YD
Chocolate Hot or Cold… priced YD
Beefy drink… price YD
“Is this for real…” John laughingly let out and looked up from the foreign menu at a blushing Vicky. “Oh very real, and it took Ed and I many years to perfect… it’s simply life changing… but don’t take my word for it… what will it be then..?” Hilda responded with her polite smile that the out of towners grown used to now, and she served their beverages from a polished silver tray. “My apologies Hilda… but I’ve never seen… please forgive… such a…” Jason managed to get out after swallowing his laugh. “Limited selection..? Oh that’s quite fine my dear. Over the years our regulars (she looked around at the empty tables around them) ordered so much of these that Ed and I decided to prepare nothing else. These seem to get people back every time. We even have repeat customers now and then who relocated from the farms and Heartville Town many years ago…” And she smiled, having taken out her pencil and notebook from her perfectly pressed white cotton apron and apparently not leaving their table without their meal order. “So… what will it be..?” John, trying on behalf of his family and him to play for time, asked… “So tell me Hilda, the groovy gravy… what is it..?” “Groovy of course…” and she laughed at the seeming silliness that he even asked. “Last one… the price… well prices… they’re all the same..?” John was fast running out of optive questions. “Oh Indeed… my Ed decided years ago that our customers should pay what they feel is just. You know… compared to what other places would charge… Is that it?” Hilda had answered as much as what there was to ask and John picked up that she knew he was stretching out the time to actually order. “How about you decide for us Hilda… you probably know people and their cravings best..?” John had run out of ideas finally… “Splendid… it will be my pleasure… and a treat, I promise…” and off she was taking her signature smile into the kitchen and the double doors swung closed behind her after two or three back and forth whining hinghing sounds.
“What the hell…” the twins replied and alternated their stares between John and Vicky. “I have no idea…” John replied and stirred two heaped spoons of sugar into his waiting coffee. Again he scanned the diner, trying to figure out what’s been nagging him. A cough at the door startled him and an older couple took their time walking in and looked in their direction, then waved a friendly wave in the family’s direction. “Odd…” John said to Vicky. While John and Vicky were discussing the remainder of the trip and Googeling holiday sightings for the following two days; they weren’t aware that two other older couples had arrived in the interim, and joined what seemed like old friends who had just walked in, all heading for the bar. “Evening…!” Hilda was back from the kitchen with a large jug and briefly joined her seemingly regulars at a lounge setting with chairs placed around a low table near the bar. “Just in time…” The one old man smilingly greeted her and battled, but managed to rise from his deep comfortable leather wingback chair and she rewarded his politeness with a warm hug while holding his mug that she had just filled from the jug. “You’re spoiling me Hilda…” and he took the steamy mug while holding himself up with the other hand, pressing down on his walking cane. Hilda continued pouring from the jug until all her guests were all served and headed back to the kitchen. John was commenting on how none of the customers placed orders but gladly accepted her offering from the steamy jug, when Vicky nudged him under the table… “Here we go…” Hilda took a step closer and in true waiter style managed two delicious aromaticly filled plates on each arm. The ones balancing on her forearms, keeping the ones held up by her wrists in perfect balance. “For mom and dad, medium fillet, mashed potato, groovy gravy, and pumpkin fritters… and for growing young men… kidney pie, jacketed potatoes and groovy gravy…” she let John help offload the warm plates. “No shame in asking for qsecond…” …she placed her personal stamp of approval on the meal. Hilda winked at the twins and with a friendly smile and a quick “Bon Appétit” she let them be and returned to her guests seated at the lounge area, again refilling their mugs from the large jug. Twenty minutes later the diner was packed with patrons and laughs and chatter filled the old wood and copper themed diner. With only three tables vacant, Hilda was running a tight ship and one of the old men lend her a hand taking orders. He sporadically handed Hilda the notes that he scribbled the orders on but never went into the kitchen. John and Vicky were amazed at Hilda’s efficient attendance and felt ashamed although earnestly debating whether to copy the twins’ example and order a repeat of both their coffees as well as their meals… not knowing what came over them… they did just that. It was as though every following morsel was progressively more mouthwatering than the last. “Keeps me fit… and besides, its an old… old secret recipe… this groovy gravy… wouldn’t want too many prying eyes, would we now..?” Was Hilda’s joking reply to Vicky’s enquiry into her not employing more staff to assist her on busy evenings. Before Hilda excused herself later when the diner quieted down at 10pm, her eyes lit up as she was telling them about her motorcycling days and pointed to an old black and white framed photo that hung over the bar. Her nostalgia was abruptly interrupted an old tattooed man peered out the kitchen door with a large jug, waving her towards the kitchen. “My Ed is looking for me…” and she disappeared into the small crowd that formed where an old lady was holding up an empty jug. The Bertrand’s couldn’t believe that their visit spanned three hours, nor that the twins almost forgot about their phones. Promising Hilda they’d be back at some stage and thanking her for a feast of a meal, John paid her generously and they left. Surprisingly late, and the last patrons to leave the diner, the chilly air outside rushed the family to where they had parked and all but John got into the SUV. “Do you have to…? You’re not getting inside with that…” Vicky opened and closed the window as John lit a cigarette and exhaled a satisfactory blueish grey cloud, then recalled what was nagging him earlier… “Also not kicked the habit I see…” John, visibly startled, turned and discovered that Hilda was just outside the diner door. The lights inside allowed him to see that she had just removed a cigarette from a packet of Softpack Camel 20’s and before he could complete the retrieval of his lighter and offer her a light, she’d already struck a match and was blissfully dragging on the cigarette. “You’re kind… thank you, but they taste better with wood…” and Hilda took a second deep drag and blew the smoke straight up in the air. Looking up as the smoke vanished, Hilda was secretly hoping the weather would clear up before sunrise. It had been too long that she experienced the exhilaration of the open road and the contentment she was rewarded with as the wind used to come her long hair…
ENTER THE WORLD OF ARNO LE ROUX
South African born Arno Le Roux is affiliated with a number of Charities and he has a long history with and still has some affiliations with both Finance, Banking & Insurance Industry as well as his past in the Safety and Security Sector, Crime Prevention, Pathology, Serious Economic Offences investigations, intelligence gathering, Riot and Crowd Control, commercial and military firearm & ammunition identification, etc. Holding various impressive honours and awards within these sectors, he also is a Certified Realtor dealing in both commercial and residential properties. His passion for the mechanics of corporates and commerce, religious history, and phycology are interwoven in his fiction.
The Reaper’s Design – Trilogy Book 1
Things That Don’t Rhyme
How To Pause A Monster Called Time
Only Good Men Deserve Yesterday
Bringing The House Down
Yesterday… Today… Tomorrow…
As Above, So Below…
Poetry & Perception Vol 1
Poetry & Perception Vol 2
Poetry & Perception Vol 3
Poetry & Perception Vol 4
The Reaper’s Design Book II – Fictional – Pharmaceutical Industry vs the global population.
Hands Up! – Fictional between Insurance and Debt- How it Controls Humanity.
Polished Boots – The necessity of war to fund military research in Space to find a next earth.
Voters Remorse – The underbelly of politics and replacing leaders with corrupt tenancies.
Taking Stock – The need for corrupt politicians to ensure a foothold in mineral rich countries.
One Tablet Before Meals – Running and managing drug and slavery cartels for funding black ops groups
Café, Eatery or Bistro... On the whole these brightly lit, welcoming signs serve as samples of sometimes age-old delectable processes kept secret, to keep hungry selective patrons going back for more. No two are alike in character and each one boasts to dominate either with the generosity or their portions, their delightfully secretly guarded home made gravies, or those speciality tempting desserts. Whatever magnetises us towards them, they just prepare it better... And of course, then there are the heart-warming hosts... the other ingredient to a mouthwatering experience, that keeps us going back...