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News & Features » July 2018 » “The Happy Meal at The Seven Gables” by Bruce Krajewski

“The Happy Meal at The Seven Gables” by Bruce Krajewski

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, a man hits the jackpot . . . then becomes a hit himself.

The Happy Meal at the Seven Gables
by Bruce Krajewski
Pacific Grove, California

Vespers—a chronological designation unfamiliar to a Methodist town like Pacific Grove. Below the thickening fog the surf’s agitation increased, smashing against rocks, throwing up water in fractal patterns, a complexity in contrast with the simplicity of the domestic hunt unfolding on shore. The Night of the Hunter without a preacher. The hunted arrives.

“Is this your first time at the Seven Gables?” said Linda.

“Yeah. Happy to be here. Couldn’t afford to stay at a place like this before,” said Patrick.

“Before?”

“You must be the only person in North America who hasn’t heard. I’m the Powerball lotto winner. All over the news. Working class stiff hits the jackpot. Best and worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I had to flee the suckers in New Jersey. Everyone wants a piece of the action, even my own son. Distant relatives beg me for money, and when I say No, they start talking like we’re a mob family—broken kneecap threats and all that. Crazy. My own son, even worse. He thought he’d never have to work again. Can’t wait for me to die and inherit the old-fashioned way. Well, I surprised ‘em all—with nothing. I’m here to enjoy my good fortune and forget about how wretched life has been.”

“Well, congratulations, Mr. Fleisch! Good for you. Do you know that comic who says, The bleak shall inherit the earth?” Linda smiles, pauses for a reaction, which doesn’t come. “We have the best room in the house for you, facing Lovers Point. You’ll have peace and quiet. Breakfast is served in the Beach House from seven to ten each morning. We have wine and cheese from four to six right behind you, featuring great local wines. At eight we put out cookies and milk, and at turn down leave a chocolate on your pillow. Unfortunately, you’re too late for wine and cheese, but gourmet cookies will be out shortly.”

“That’s all more than I’m used to. Right now, I have a hankering for McDonald’s, and then I’ll hit the hay. I’ve been traveling all day. After my last doctor’s appointment, she said McDonald’s would kill me. High cholesterol and all that. Now that I’ve got money—to hell with healthy eating. Point me to the golden arches, and I’ll be a happy man.”

“Sorry to tell you, Mr. Fleisch, Pacific Grove doesn’t have a McDonald’s. City wanted to encourage a different lifestyle, but there’s one not far in Monterey.”

“What? This city’s run by a bunch of damn vegans?”

“The city managers didn’t intend anything unsavory. They thought it was in people’s best interest to put the brakes on fast food.”

“I’m with that chef on TV. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit,” Patrick said.

“We here at the Seven Gables aim to please. If you want food from McDonald’s, we’ll get it for you.”

“Get me a goddamn hamburger with fries, a Happy Meal. They sell 250 Happy Meals every three seconds, so it can’t be that bad for you. Have someone bring it to my room. I’ll throw in a healthy tip.”

“I’m on it, Mr. Fleisch.” After Linda settled Mr. Fleisch into his room, she phoned McDonald’s with the order, and then a cab company to retrieve it. The arrangement would conclude within half an hour.

*

A bag displaying the golden arches image and “Fleisch” spelled out with a Sharpie sat on the registration desk when Cass showed up. He couldn’t believe his luck. He grabbed the bag, and went outside to his rental car, where he added a healthy dose of rat poison to the hamburger, knowing no doctor would be looking for arsenic in a case involving an obese, sixty-five-year-old with a history of heart issues. He returned to the inn. Linda was back at the front desk. “A driver gave me this bag and asked me to deliver it,” Cass said.

“Oh, thank you,” Linda said. “We have a guest chomping at the bit for this delivery.”

“Happy to help.”

“Do you have a reservation?”

“No.”

“Unfortunately, we’re filled up the next few days. People can’t get enough of the Seven Gables. Rooms go fast. Shall I add you to our waiting list?”

“Yes, I’m guessing you might have a vacancy soon.”

“And your name, sir?”

“Cass.”

“Last name?”

“Fleisch.”

“You’re related to Patrick?”

“That’s my father’s name.”

“Do you want me to let him know you’re here?”

“No. Let him be happy a few hours longer.”    

***

BRUCE KRAJEWSKI lives in College Station, Texas. He has published “The Gravity of the Situation” in The Babel Anthology. His first mystery novel The Six Ladies of The Seven Gables features the alluring Pacific Grove inn. Publishers wishing to fight over the novel should contact the author, who will function as referee.

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jul 2, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , ,



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