by Becky Curtis
Herald first noticed the sign on his way home from work. It was convenient too. He was ready to eat his sorrows.
The night before, in a flower kimono and little else, after one glass too much of gin, he’d called Martin intending just to talk, when the drink got the better of him. He’d long suspected Martin of having affairs with the boys down at the Stop and Shop, on Carter Street, in the center of town; as if the fact that he refused to pay for Herald’s dinner wasn’t enough. While Martin had millions in the bank, Herald lived on a fixed budget, and this resentment had boiled over and over, until it manifested in the words that could never be taken back.
Now Herald was sitting inside a Tia restaurant, all alone, choking down sections of raw shrimp — “All You Can Eat, 4.99.” Between sobs.
“Can I get you more napkins, sir?” a waiter asked.
“Oh, no, “Herald wiped his nose on his sleeve. “Just more shrimp.”
After his stomach started to heave, Herald pulled out of the parking lot and sped home in his Ford Taurus. But halfway there, the burning sensation that had grown within his stomach began working its way towards the bottom.
He made it about halfway down his long driveway then he tore from the vehicle, slamming his door shut behind. For once, Herald was relieved to live alone.
In the bathroom for three hours straight, the sixty-five-year-old lamented without reserve. He cursed the Gods of anger and revenge, and even the Gods of frugality, for he was certain all had worked together against him.
Mirroring its gentle warmth in the surface of the lake by his home, the morning that followed, the sun held special promise and Herald stepped a little more cautiously. As seven days of rainfall passed, drenching his heart but scarcely standing to wash the pain clear from his mind, Herald still hadn’t heard a word from Martin. Then as he traveled by the same spot where the Tai restaurant posted their sign, on his way to the free luncheon held by the Unitarian Church every Wednesday, which was really meant for those way less-fortunate than Herald, his eyes were drawn towards the bright yellow letters of the sign.
“All day: Flounder All You Can Eat, 4.99.”
Short Story ©Becky Curtis
Artwork©Eva-Maria Se Fue