‘Table for One’ A new flash fiction

I didn’t think I was going to get a story written today. I’ve got some winter virus and it’s snowing. The snow has nothing to do with my ability to write a story, but it sets the scene for you.

Don’t ask me where this one came from; all I know is I did eat a tuna wrap last week. So there you go.

Table for One

They said at the inquest that it came down to sun-dried tomatoes. That might seem strange to someone who wasn’t there to hear the evidence, but having sat through the whole thing, it made perfect sense.

The arsonist, they said, was a loner (aren’t they always?), or he at least kept himself to himself. He sat alone in the restaurant every day, facing the wall. ‘Not exactly what you’d call a conversationalist,’ said Patti, one of the waitresses, who, by chance, had been having a temporary crown fitted the day of the fire, ‘but never rude.’

Patti’s evidence was crucial: no-one else had ever spoken to him; at least none that were still living. His landlord recalled a brief exchange of words from the day he arrived in the town five years earlier; the man had apparently moved around a fair bit until he’d “found a town where they serve my lunch the way I like it”.

Patti thought he probably only ate once a day, and always the same thing: tuna wrap with potato salad. ‘So you see,’ she told the inquest, ‘he never had a reason to talk. But he always tipped.’

She explained that a new chef had started. ‘He was anti-frills and Food Network, if you know what I mean.’ I don’t suppose everyone present did, but she continued anyway. ‘We said don’t mess with the menu, but I guess he had a vision of his own, like chefs do.’

The man had taken a single bite of his wrap before calling Patti over.

‘He asked me where the tomato was. The only words he ever spoke to me in all those years. “Where’s the sun-dried tomato?”’

The inquest concluded he’d been insane; at least, he was when he ran into the restaurant holding a petrol bomb.

Afterwards, when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the time my mother forgot to take mustard to the beach for our hot dogs.

© flyingscribbler 2013

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19 comments on “‘Table for One’ A new flash fiction

  1. Larry Kollar says:

    That was an… open-ended ending! I wonder what happened at the beach that day?

    I keep a baggie of dried tomatoes in my cube at work. They cook up nicely in the crockpot… but I digress. I enjoyed this one!

  2. Oh dear, was poor mother in disgrace over the mustard incident…? I hope the kids didn’t petrol bomb her

  3. gailaldwin says:

    Are you off your food with that winter virus? I guess so with a story like this. Well done – and hope you feel better soon.

  4. Gardner's World says:

    Now that is what I call a dissatisfied customer! Good story about what little it takes to push someone unstable over the edge.

  5. Steve Green says:

    Wow! I wonder if this guy has ever heard the phrase “over-reaction”

  6. I can understand the ‘loner’s’ reaction entirely! If someone put a tomato in any sandwich they served me, out would come the matches! 🙂

    Good story

  7. Mridubala says:

    That was well written 🙂
    By the way, if possible please read/comment my short story Final destination

  8. Let’s see: never speaks if he can help it, always wants the same thing done the exact same way, fond of starch and protein, and gets violent if you change the slightest thing without telling him. I think I know this guy.

    Telling the reader about the arson up-front and leaving us looking for a reason was fun. That the narrator tries to have some empathy for the arsonist at the end sort of puts a cherry on top — only if you like cherries, of course.

  9. You never know what will get some people to snap, do you? I enjoyed the read!

  10. Icy Sedgwick says:

    I’m getting visions of Michael Douglas from Falling Down.

  11. LOL well you know those sundried tomatoes make all the difference! Thanks for the smile.

  12. richardbon says:

    Quite the obsessive compulsive, the arsonist must have been. Crazy as it may seem to burn down a restaurant over a sun dried tomato (or lack thereof), I could see this happening in real life. Easy read with a comical feel to it throughout, even with the destructive event.

  13. dannigrrl says:

    Okay, that’s especially unfunny because we eat hot dogs and corn dogs at the beach all the time and my mom literally flips out if they lady doesn’t give us enough mustard. If that snack stand goes up in flames one day, you’ll know what happened.

  14. denise says:

    There is nothing worse than someone interfering with your food! I dread to see the words “new improved recipe” on anything but at least with a packet you are forewarned…imagine the shock an unannounced change could cause….Oh, I see that’s just what you have done… 😉 Great story!

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