Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Bear and the Waitress

Hektor, a bear, sat at a corner table at the Three Horns Bakery and Cafe. "Waiter!" he cried. "Waiter!"

The waitress appeared. "What is it, sir?" she asked.

"Why haven't I gotten my sandwich yet?" Hektor growled.* "I've been waiting here for twenty minutes, and the cafe's nearly empty!"

"My service is terrible, sir!" the waitress said.

Hektor paused. "That's... refreshingly honest," he said grudgingly.

"Thank you, sir!" the waitress said beamingly. "I try to always be honest. Just the way I was raised!"

Hektor looked at her. "Are you trying to give terrible service?" he asked.

"Yep!" the waitress happily.

"...why?" Hektor asked.

"It's revenge!" the waitress said. "You see, my father worked here as a waiter. Then he was killed by a customer! So now, ten years later, I got hired and give terrible service to all of the customers, in retaliation!"

Hektor looked at her. In a moment of decision, he pulled out a card from his pocket. "My name is Hektor," he told the waitress, "and I'm a revenge specialist. I consult and train prospective revenge-seekers. A few of my more famous clients are listed on the card; there are more online."

The waitress looked at him with surprise. "But I'm just a waitress!" she cried uninformatively. "I can't possibly afford your rates!"

"Look - what's your name?" Hektor asked.

"Gerda," Gerda replied. "Why?"

"Look, Gerda," Hektor said. "We each have something to offer. I can teach you how to exact a proper revenge on the customer who killed your father. You can teach me how to make that delicious sandwich that this place makes, and that I was trying to order. It's a fair trade."

"All right!" Gerda said. They shook hands.

After Gerda's shift ended, they met at Hektor's office. He taught her how to track a man by the brand of his shoelaces; she taught him how to slice the bread and the meat. He taught her how to enlist allies in the hunt for the killer; she taught him how to apply the seasoning. He taught her how to kill a man with gun, knife, or bare hands; she taught him how to tell when the bread was done cooking. And finally, he taught her the most valuable skill he had to offer: rigid, unbreakable self-control, the kind that would be needed to act rationally while hunting a target she utterly deplored.

"All right," Hektor said at last, breathing heavily from the exertion. "This has been a very productive half-hour, and I think we're done here. You're ready to finally enact your revenge. Properly, this time."

"But I'm not done with my end!" Gerda protested. "I haven't taught you the final skill necessary in the preparation of the sandwich!"

"No?" Hektor asked. With one smooth motion, he brought the sandwich forward, keeping it perfectly level in his hand. With another, he drew back; the sandwich and plate rested safely on the table between them.

"Mein Gott!" Gerda cried, astounded. "You must be the finest sandwich-server ever born! If you'd only heard the calling-"

"But I follow another calling, liebste Frau," Hektor told Gerda decisively. "And now you must go."

"Yes," Gerda agreed. "I am ready. Thank you again for the help, Hektor! I could not have done this without you!"

"The pleasure," Hektor pronounced, "Was all mine."

Epilogue.

Gerda, though long, painstaking effort, and the help of many friends in low and high places, finally found the man who killed her father. Her revenge was long and painful, and satisfied all the guidelines that Hektor advised. When it was done, the nightmare that began ten years ago with her father's death finally ended.

Hektor took a bite of his sandwich.

"Hm," he said. "That's pretty good."

Gerda returned to college, becoming a high-energy particle physicist. Her research, in conjunction with a team of colleagues, paved the path for truly high-efficiency thrusters, and she was accordingly named the "Mother of Interplanetary Travel" after her death.

Hektor took another bite, finishing the sandwich.

"It's a bit off, though," he decided. "I'll have to ask Gerda where the cafe gets its meat."

Gerda and Hektor remained in contact for years and years, forming a friendship that was valuable to both of them. Both successful in their respective fields, they cushioned each-other from the many sorrows and indiginities the world had to offer. Gerda was crushed by Hektor's death at the hands of a rogue trailer-truck driver; she died less than a year thereafter.

Fifty years later, Gerda's grandson was killed... by a murderer. His daughter took courage from Gerda's example, assembling a rag-tag crew of heroes to avenge her father's death. Their journey was long and hard; many obstacles barred their path, and more than one of them nearly died in the pursuit. But the quest was successful; Gerda's great-granddaughter had her revenge, and the friendships she made in her quest would persist across generations. When the first intergalactic generation-ship set out for Andromeda, the great-grandaughter's own grand-nephew's uncle's niece was its captain.

And all thanks to a sandwich, and a bear that loved them.

*Did you think that he was growling because he was a bear? Would you have thought the same if I had not introduced him as "Hektor, a bear"? If the answers are yes and no respectively, then you are indulging in racial stereotyping, and I am very disappointed in you.

1 comment:

Calvacadeofcats said...

what a delightfull spin of a clasick fairie tale