It took understanding to accept what was in front of him as a whole dish, knowledge of where to even start from, courage to engage such a plate, diligence to set a good pace for eating it, and expression to translate what a fool he was for even taking such a bet.
Such was the Full American Breakfast at Luke’s Diner, in some small town between Boston and New York. The Viper had needed gas, and both men needed to stretch out a spell and refuel themselves. Their third member said nothing from his motorcycle, but his stomach betrayed his hunger.
“I can’t believe you talked me into this, man.” Bryan said in awe of the sheer amount of protein and sauces before him.
Lance smiled through his coffee, “Trust me, bro. You need this. You barely ate yesterday, and this is a feast for a King!”
“You mean a heart attack on a plate. How come you didn’t get one?”
“It would go right to my hips,” his friend replied in a faux high pitch.
Bryan just shook his head. “Wuss…” And with that, he shoveled in the first mouthful. The slickness of the sausage grease and egg yolks clashed with the crispness of the potatos and fluff from the pancakes in a duel that paralyzed his taste buds in delight. “Dude…how? How can this be this good?! It’s like Denny’s but better in every way! I think an angel came from above and delivered unto me this plate!”
Lance chuckled at that, “You’re welcome, but I think her name was Laura. Did you catch it, big guy?”
Lucifer looked up from his waffle to give a simple answer, “Didn’t notice. Not my type.”
“Oh yeah?” Lance nudged the senior member of the table, “And what type is that? Tricked out in leather and tattoos?”
“No,” was all the biker responded with before returning to his plate.
“Well…alright then. At least I could tell she was yours.”
Bryan paused his fork halfway to his mouth, “How ya figure?”
“Long, dark hair. Brown eyes. Long legs. Dude, every girl you ever dated was like a new version of the same mold. You always go after the same ones.”
He took a long swig of water, and was amazed at how much room he felt as though he had to cram in more divinity. “That’s not true.”
Lance cocked his eyebrow, “Name one that didn’t have one of those three traits.”
Memories soon came flooding though his mind like he had dipped his face in a mountain stream. Bryan McPherrel,a young man who could’ve had his choice of companion if only his mouth didn’t outrun his brain so often. Only a few times before he dawned the uniform did he wear the heart of a lady, and only one time after. He could see all their faces as they smiled for him, laughed for him, or cried because of him.
Then the realization hit him with more mass than the pig on his plate. “Dude, you’re right. I did have a type. The type I could never make work.”
Lance dropped his smile as well, he could sense where this was heading, “That’s not what I…you know what, forget I mentioned it. It was stupid. We aren’t here to be sad, especially not you. This trip is supposed to be nothing but awesomeness and adventure. See, we even picked up our own wingman!” He nudged the broad shoulder of the man next to him, forcing Lucifer to drop his next bite and earning a glare.
“But that’s what’s wrong with it! Dude, after this trip, what do we do? You’ll go home to Charleston, he’ll go back to doing… I have no idea what, and I’ll be back to wondering when this fuckin’ time bomb in my head will finally go off!” Bryan suddenly felt far too heavy to even look at his half-eaten conquest.
“Then why not just lay here and wither like a piece of weathered shit?” Lucifer challenged, surprising both men.
“If you wanted to simply whimper away like a dog, you wouldn’t even be worthy of the dirt they would pile on you. Instead, you come into my bar, dare to question me on what it is that makes life worth living, only to end up doubting it yourself? Tiny here is right, you do have a type. Because you,” a point the biker punctuated with two solid logs for fingers jabbing Bryan in the sternum, “have no resolve. You lost it somewhere in the pills and the unknown.”
Even among the bustle of the diner around them, he couldn’t hear anyone or anything. Just his heart beating in his chest. This tattooed and unusually-named man was right. So what exactly was Bryan doing here, on this aimless quest? Even getting to the Grand Canyon would only take a few days at a good pace. And then what?
“Damn, man!” Lance sputtered, “you sure don’t talk around shit, do you? And also, ‘Tiny’? Seriously?”
“Yukari.” Bryan simply said. “She cut her hair short that one time…it looked good on her.”
The other driver chuckled, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Didn’t you hate that?”
“Nah, or at least I don’t anymore.” The moribund man looked out into the parking lot, towards the quaintness of the village around them. “I was gonna marry her…”
Lucifer snorted, finishing off his plate, “Well, isn’t that peachy. How did you screw it up?”
Bryan took a long breath, “I dunno… I was working, she was working and going to school. She couldn’t decide on what she wanted to do and…we just started fighting about everything. It didn’t last long after that.”
Lance nodded, “I remember how much of a wreck you were when things fell apart. You almost bought that crotch rocket. Don’t think that would’ve fit in with his crowd.”
The biker shook his head, “But it would have been worth something in parts when I took it from you.”
“You know, we’re still friends, her and I,” Lance started, pulling out his phone to show his brother a picture. And sure enough, Bryan couldn’t even see the years that had fallen off the clock since their last days and now. He saw the smile that lit up his whole world. The eyes that would squint when she laughed. Lips that never failed to taste like the slightest hint of peach, even if she’d just eaten steak.
“She still asks about you, you know,” his friend continued, “I haven’t…um…”
“I’m going to find her.” Bryan declared. “If nothing else, to apologize for all the shit I messed up.”
Lucifer shook his head, “A stupid way to find a reason.”
“Tell that to Odysseus or Menelaus. You’d be amazed what happens when this stuff gets involved.” Lance retorted.
“Do you know where she is now?” Bryan asked, to which Lance nodded. “She lives out in L.A. now, doing some kind of…entertainment thing, I’m not sure. But she’s back in Hokkaido right now and won’t be back until,” he looked at his watch, “damn, almost a month from now.”
The doomed man didn’t miss a beat. “Then I’ll just have to stick around until then. Which means taking the long road. You in, big guy?”
Folding his massive arms across his chest, the leathered titan thought for a moment, then shrugged. “I’ve got things I can do most anywhere we go. You’d be surprised how many of us there are,” he pointed to his jacket on the empty chair.
“Alright then, we have the time, and we know where we’ll end up,” Bryan leaned back, “Question is, where to now?”
“Boston.” Lance responded instantly. “Have to do it. You lived too close to it for too long and never once did you go to Fenway. That shit gets fixed, and gets fixed now.”
In agreement, the men signaled for the bill. And as they walked to their vehicles, Bryan smirked to himself, prompting his compatriot to ask, “You saw her too?”
“Long dark hair, brown eyes and long legs. I hate you.”
Another piece in the story of a man with nothing to lose, his brother and enabler and the renegade who was once something else. And good grief, I’ve never linked so many stories together. Could this be building to something?
I hope you all enjoy.