Three Hours at Nocomis’
by Jeff Baker
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The draws for the February Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were A Fan Fiction, set in a Pizza Parlor, including a sack of potatoes. Enjoy this and see if you recognize the characters I’m riffing on here. I’ll have a spoiler after it’s over! ——jeff
Willie Nocomis sighed. The last three hours had not been going well.
Two of the servers at the Pizza parlor hadn’t shown up for their shifts, and there was a prospective buyer coming in that afternoon. He’d gotten Annie to come in and he’d managed to wait tables and do dishes and help Skip Grumby make the pizzas. Usually he just stood by the register and handed out menus during the noon rush.
He glanced at the clock. Just about three hours of this. It was slow enough to take a break. But somebody had to peel the potatoes. He walked into the kitchen. Skip Grumby, big and bluff was filling the bin with tomato sauce.
“Y’know, if I wanted to work like this in a kitchen I would never have left the navy, Little Buddy!” Grumby said with a grin, playfully tossing his chef’s hat at Willie.
“Tell me about it,” Willie said. “At least in those days, nobody used to walk off a ship if they didn’t want to do their shift.” He pulled the fifty pound sack of potatoes out from under the dishwasher and started peeling.
“What happened to the guy you hired to peel the potatoes?” Grumby asked.
“You mean the guy I hired to wash dishes, peel potatoes and bus tables after the last guy I hired to wash dishes, peel potatoes and bus tables quit?” Willie asked.
“Yeah,” Grumby said.
“Oh,” Grumby said. “Glad we know how to make the fries.”
“Willie!” Annie said. “You’ll never guess who just walked in!”
“The investor?” Willie asked, dropping the peeler in the sack of potatoes.
“No,” Annie said. “Her! She used to work here! Before you bought the place! Before she went to Hollywood and became famous!”
She was sitting in a corner booth wearing a sequined dress and red, bouffant hair. Willie walked up to her with a menu.
“Hi, I’m Willie Nocomis,” he said. “Would you like to try our special minnows and anchovy pizza?”
He tried handing her a menu but instead handed her a half-peeled potato.
“Oops!” Willie said handing her the menu.
“That sounds absolutely heavenly!” she said in a breathy voice. “Don’t make any fuss over me. I’m just here to be like anybody else having a pizza. Oh, and I’m expecting my P. R. man, Mr. Feldman to join me. If he doesn’t go the wrong way again.”
Willie took her order, and was in the kitchen when he saw the front door open. The man who entered was immaculately dressed with a diamond stickpin and a cane with a gold handle and an opera cape. The woman who accompanied him was tall, dignified, silver haired and wearing pearls AND diamonds.
“Hello,” he said in a Harvard accent. “I’m Thurlow Filthyrich the First. I’m here to place an order of pizza and a pizza franchise to go.”
“Thurlow, dahhhhling,” the woman said. “Don’t forget to buy the parking lot and an order of fries.”
“Yes, my lovey-dovey,” Thurlow said. “We’ll see if they have a box big enough for the parking lot.”
Willie had ducked back into the kitchen and brushed the potato peel off his shirtfront, talking to himself all the while.
“This is important, this is important, don’t be nervous, don’t be nervous. We’re gonna franchise, we’re gonna franchise!”
He stepped back into the dining room and was about to say something when he was interrupted by a bespectacled man, a customer in his thirties holding a sheaf of papers who had jumped up from under one of the booths.
“Everybody listen to me!” the man said. “I’m from the University, I’m a professor studying everything including Reverse-Geology. We have to take cover! If my calculations are correct we’re about to experience an…”
The building began to suddenly rumble and shake.
There was yelling, the clatter of dishes, potatoes flying everywhere and suddenly everything began spinning, spinning, spinning…
Willie woke up flailing his arms in the air, falling out of the hammock. He landed safely (he’d done it enough times.) He glanced at the bottom bunk.
“At least you coulda broken my fall,” he said to the snoring figure in the bottom bunk. Hadn’t even woken up.
He took a deep breath of the island night breezes wafting through their hut. Then he sniffed the air.
“Skipper,” he said. “Have you been eating pizza?”
AUTHOR’S ADDENDA: The last T. V. show I would have thought I could bring to a mainland pizza parlor was “Gilligan’s Island.” Then I remembered the imaginative dream sequences they used to do on that fine and underrated series. If it was one tenth as funny, I’ll be happy! Oh, and “Nocomis” is a type of minnow!—–jeff