Red Mask in the Mailbox
by Chris Griffith
Chapter 5-Dinner at the Shack
Joe, Margie, and Thomas had hopped into the Bobcat for dinner at the “Waffle Shack” the night before the red mask was found in the mailbox. Thomas had sat in the back. He loved to ride with the hatch open as the wind tunneled around him.
"Can we ride with the hatch open?" he had asked
“Not this time Tom,” his father said. “The plastic might blow out, and we need it there to keep the carpet clean.”
Saturday morning car-washings and waxings were weekend rituals around the Trimpton home. “Scrub the tar till it all comes off,” Joe told Thomas. “Rub in a circular motion boy.”
“What’s slerpicur mean Daddy?” Thomas grinned, and tilted his head.
“Round and round young man,” his father would say, “round and round.”
Thomas, reminded of the Saturday morning ritual, thought the less time spent cleaning the car, the better. He decided not to press the issue.
They walked into the restaurant and a pretty girl by the name of Wanda led them over to a seat in the corner by the window. They ordered drinks and watched cars pass by.
She brought their drinks in big red plastic cups, and took their order.
Thomas put a finger over his straw and dipped it into his soft drink. He pulled out a specimen of cola, hovered straw over mouth, lifted finger, and cold drink fell into his dry mouth. “Aahhh!” he said.
“Why don’t you show some manners?” His mother asked. She looked at Joe and saw him doing the same trick. “What am I gonna’ do with you two?” she asked, and they all laughed.
“I wonder where the waitress is?” asked Joe.
“Why don’t you go check honey,?” his wife asked.
Joe stood up from the table, walked over to the cash register, looked towards the kitchen and saw Dominic Perdue and Wanda. They were emptying grease from the vats into five gallon pickle buckets.
“Hey,” Joe yelled. “Hey buddy, can you come here a minute?” he asked Dominic.
Joe’s colleague at work, Irving Daniels, told him how to remove tar from a car’s rocker panel. “What you do,” Irving said, “you get some grease from a restaurant and you smear it right on the paint. Now you have to use a lot and let it sit on there for a good little while, but after a while, it’ll take that ol’ tar right off.”
Joe asked the cook if he could have the grease. Dominic said yes, but thought it was like someone had just asked to borrow used toilet paper. “What you be needin’ that nasty stuff for?” he asked.
He told Joe the grease was really hot and it could melt through the buckets. Joe said that was all right. He would come and pick it up later that night when it cooled.
Joe strolled back to his family, slid in the booth, and Wanda took their order.
Later that night, Joe came back to the Shack, and put the chicken grease in the hatch of the Bobcat. A hole the size of a dime had melted through the bucket, but Joe never saw it. He wrapped plastic around it to keep the carpet from getting dirty. He drove home and placed the bucket at the top of the driveway.
During the night and all the next day, grease seeped out of the green bucket. It saturated the black asphalt driveway the way cholesterol seeps into your veins after eating fried chicken.