Post’s second fictional outing, by Ike Krijnen, has a certain reptilian je ne sais quoi.
(Southwest of) Olathe, KS. Jimmy’s Jar Cafeteria
The place used to be a secret moonshine distillery, that’s why they call it the Jar. Once owned by a Jimmy. RIP.
Nowadays they make breakfast, and coffee is served in glass pots with slightly bigger screw tops for saucers. That’s hip, but the current owners are in their early eighties. They are sweet, and they love bright fluorescent lighting.
The interior misses its Hopper birds and its Hopper cats; this longing, and Sarah Vaughan in the background are the only things that make this joint a sweet one. No smoking allowed. Forgotten burgundy bar stools, chromed to the teeth. Matching family booths against the windows.
YES, we’re OPEN.
Stares, licks his wounded face. His old and wrinkly face of tainted skin and blush cheeks. A voice sweet and bitter like the funkiest funk of jazz soul one can think of. Pop. And this ol’ buster’s been around. Not just in New Orleans. Not just in the clubs of New York and Chicago. This man has rocked stages across the world – the universe.
Sitting there, blankly into the darkness behind the windows like he had just left his baby – no, that was a long time ago – his golden eyes pierce through anyone or anything that crosses them. In this case, a pensive void in front of him in the shape of cafeteria neon at an early break of dawn.
The waiters dare not test the ol’ jazz singer man’s stance; leave him and his cigarette and drinkable soot to himself.
And he will need a few minutes.
To regroup, any distant, sweaty admirer will suppose. But it’s not because they will have had extensive and consorting chats with the mystery man. He is clearly not from around here, and no one alive in this place will have the guts to face his golden laser beam eyes.
Learn about his travels from across the pond into this dusty flat state, on his way to Nebraska. Learn about his second family with crazy uncles and grandfathers. Flirtatious host sisters and Chevrolet money misters. Four long years in the Midwestern dung. And now, upon his long-lived career as a musician, his forced return to bury a 103-year-old man in Hastings.
No one, here, will ever know.
We move closer to ol’ jazz singer man. We see him traveling great distances while remaining seated in the booth. As if, after orbiting around the world several times, he is looking at the back of his own head.
Almost inside it now. And just at the point when a naked, flying crocodile lady gliding into the cafeteria sits down in front of him. Intersects with his gaze, staring straight into his eyes. Doesn’t say a word.
Nictitating membranes on hold.
Ol’ jazz singer man, muzzled by grief and a canker to the throat, doesn’t break the silence. His forwarded sunglasses imply he is in shock to be facing this green-skinned, winged beauty in the shape of a crocodile, and confused by the hue of the same color that washes down everything else around him.
Is she wearing a dress? He commences the inquisition. Is that a woman? There could be a beautiful thing hiding under that dress. He takes off his glasses and squints his eyes, forgets the cigarette between his fingers.
The naked, sitting crocodile lady gently pushes her hands forward, across the red-and-white plaid table.
Nictitating membranes on hold.
As soon as the hands reach where would have been ol’ jazz singer man’s plate, he hammers his face down like a Looney Tunes anvil. His mouth wide open. Not graphic like Play-Doh a scene doth unravel, as he digs down with his teeth on the crocodile lady’s arms.
He digs, and he digs deeper. The skin is hard in the beginning, strong and thick like an elephant’s back. But time is on his side in this frozen moment, and he finally moves back up. Chipmunk cheeks and shiny forehead filled.
“Chicken,” ol’ jazz singer man grunts with greasy corners of the mouth, and bits of green meat falling out. His eyes wide open.
He finishes the forearms. Of course, he had felt tempted to have a go at the wings before anything else, but couldn’t quite immediately reach that far. As is usual, the wings are attached to the crocodile lady’s back.
Will come later.
First is to see if any cloth has gotten stuck behind his fingernails and teeth. Moving his left arm for the first time, the jazz singer reaches across the table, not to pull in the green creature for another bite, but to oblige himself with a toothpick.
No buttons, zippers, sequins, or leather laces in the gums.
No cashmere fibers, silk buds, or cotton clots in the guts.
She is in fact a flying crocodile.
But only for a while.
Ike Krijnen (’07) works as a script supervisor and researcher in film and media productions, as well as being the PE (personal editor) for poet IG Karfield. Currently they are preparing the launch of their first printed project, “(green) CREATURES,” which aims to be funded by the crowd.