Lunch at Jack-in-the-Box

An oldie but a goodie. At least it still makes me laugh …

by William Arthur “Bill” Holmes. © Copyright 1990

Driving around town the other day, I somehow ended up in Hollywood. I don’t get to Hollywood much anymore and don’t usually find myself missing it. But it was a beautiful day. And seeing all the quaint shops — each striving for uniqueness — and the many people on the street — each striving for a unique sameness — I wondered why I ever left. On this day, Hollywood truly seemed like the place to be.

Getting hungry, I started looking for a hip, cool place to have lunch. I passed by several places with tables on the sidewalk and young, hip, sunglass-wearing people sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes. But I couldn’t have lunch at one of these places. I was alone. And, in Hollywood, alone people just don’t sit at sidewalk cafe tables for lunch.

As I stopped at a traffic light I saw a Jack-In-The-Box restaurant on my left — not exactly a cool, hip place to have lunch. But I was tired of driving around, and my stomach was telling me to stop here for lunch.

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by William Holmes
Copyright © 2013

WARNING:  Rated “R” for language

Gilmore “Gil” Coleman and his wife Marlene (née Coleman) — no relation, as far as he knew — lived in a tiny little trailer in a tiny little trailer park in Dumont, Oklahoma.  Theirs was at the entrance.  His wife hated that.  It made her feel vulnerable.  Gil loved it.  It was easy in, easy out.  And it afforded them the largest front yard, of which he was quite proud.

Gil was a teller at the Fourth National Bank on the outskirts of Tulsa, about 30 miles south of the trailer park.  Marlene did absolutely nothing for a living and got paid just slightly less than Gil, who worked 40 hours a week, thanks to those welfare checks that kept on coming.  Gil didn’t mind that so much.  It wasn’t fair, but so long as it kept her from complaining about his paltry salary, he was fine with it.

It was a muggy summer night, and Gil was in shorts and a t-shirt, sitting in a lounge chair in the front yard.  A Thermos full of lemonade and an empty glass sat on the table to his right.  To his left was his telescope.  He had been stargazing, but was now fast asleep.

Marlene was inside watching television while tending to their dog Liberace’s newborn pups.  Their next door neighbor, Harold, slithered up from behind Gil and sneaked into Gil’s trailer.  When Marlene saw Harold, she smiled, carefully stepped over Liberace and her puppies, and led Harold by the hand to the bedroom.

Gil was awakened by an unusual sound.  It was not until he opened his eyes that he realized it wasn’t so much a particular sound as it was a complete absence of sound.  No dogs barking.  No traffic noise.  No crickets or frogs.  Well, there was the occasional creaking sound coming from the trailer, but he just figured one of the neighbors was banging his wife again.

A moment later, a large spaceship landed in the trailer park’s gravel driveway.  Gil sat frozen in his chair, staring straight ahead, completely oblivious to anything else.

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