In this piece of short fiction, we examine The Tribulations of Luther Pigg III. Luther is faced with many challenges including the locked door of The Cup & Spoon. #short story #Tecumseh #Indiana
The Trials and Tribulations of Luther Pigg III
Luther Pigg III was never considered the sharpest tool in the shed by anyone who met him. The only reason Dixie Elliot gave any consideration to his application when he applied for the head dishwasher/closer position at the Cup & Spoon was the Pigg family had a long history with the eatery.
Luther Pigg was a long-time customer at the restaurant from the 1950s until his death. He was one of the founding fathers of the liar’s table. He’d been a fixture at the place almost as long as the grease in the deep fryer. His seat at the liar’s table was passed on to his son, Luther Pigg II. When Luther Pigg II passed in the spring of 2004, Dixie was the head waitress at the Cup & Spoon.
One of her duties was to hire new employees. She took her position seriously. It took her years to work her way up from cashier. Luther’s application seemed to burn a hole in her hand as she carried it into the back office. The red ink he used made it look like the kid-filled in the blanks with a pen he found somewhere in the pits of hell.
Her hands trembled when he handed it in for her review. Dixie knew junior was going to be trouble. It was the last thing she needed in her life. She should have gone with her first impression and tossed the standard form paper into the nearest trash can. She hired Luther instead. The Cup & Spoon needed a Pigg around if for no other reason than to keep things interesting.
Luther didn’t take well to the job. The first problem he encountered was he didn’t have the slightest concept of time. He had a bad habit of strutting into the eatery a half-hour late. Dixie thought about firing him, but let his tardiness slide out of respect for the original Luther Pigg’s memory.
Luther had a bad habit of allowing the dishes near the sink to piled to the ceiling before he washed a singl3e one of them. They were generally down to their last plate by the time he started filling the sink. In retrospect, she should have fired him when he showed up late on a regular basis. Every time the words ‘you’re fired’ formed on her lips, a picture of Luther Pigg senior would appear in the back of her mind. She couldn’t force the words out with his granddaddy’s memory interfering with her mouth. Luther was sloppy. He tended to splash water all over the walls and floor while he worked. The moisture mingled with the grease and made the surface of the backroom floor as slick as an ice-skating rink.
Dixie blew her stack the day he slipped out for a cigarette break and left the plugin the sink while the water was running. Her head cook slipped on the greasy wet floor and broke his arm. She had to take over the grill until he recovered from his injury. Her mind was made up to fire Luther as soon as she could find a replacement. By the following Monday evening, Dixie was suffering from a bad case of exhaustion. She left Luther and the salad prep guy, Ronny, to close the restaurant. All they had to do was put the condiments in the fridge, mop the floor, take out the trash, turn out the lights, and lock the door. It was a simple checklist anyone could follow, except Luther Pigg III.
The two male employees were doing fine with the first couple of tasks on the list Dixie handed them when she left them. They got all down the list she made to the part where they were to take out the trash when shit hit the fan. Ronny carried out the first bag of garbage without a hitch. He went back inside for the second bag with no problem. Five more minutes and he’d be on his way home.
When he was tossing the second bag into the giant silver dumpster behind the restaurant, he noticed Luther standing beside him. “Did you happen to put the piece of wood in the bottom of the door to prop it open when you came out?” Ronny asked. Luther shook his head no. Ronny ran over to the door and rattled it back and forth. “Well if that don’t beat all,” he muttered under his breath. “I’m taking a trip around this here restaurant to see if we forgot to lock the front doors. You best be praying we get lucky because Dixie will be all fired up if she has to come back here and deal with the mess you just made of things.”
As soon as Ronny disappeared into the dark, Luther made a beeline for his truck. He inserted the key in the ignition and pulled it as close to the eatery’s door as he could. Luther grabbed a chain out of the back of the truck and hooked it to the door handle. He put the vehicle in gear and gunned the engine. Ronny ran around the side of the restaurant just as the door popped off its hinges.
It lay lifeless in the parking lot with beams from the moonlight bouncing off its silver surface. It wasn’t five seconds before red, and blue lights from a patrol car flashed at the front of the restaurant. The attack on the door must have set off the Cup & Spoon’s security alarm. Ronny jumped in the truck and ordered Luther to drive. He had a pretty good idea about how this situation was going to play out for him.
The cops were about to speed around the corner of the Cup & Spoon with weapons drawn. They’d shoot his ass first and ask questions later. He hunched down on the front seat of the truck while Luther pulled out onto Grant Street. The chase was on as soon as the vehicle left the parking lot. Ronny was sure he was a dead man when he peeked over the seat and looked at the road behind them. There were so many blue lights filling up the road at their rear; it seemed like they were having a parade, and Luther’s truck was the lead float.
It must have been a slow night in Tecumseh for the TPD. Six patrol cars with lights and sirens joined in the chase. Every patrol officer on duty showed up to the party before the pursuit was underway. Luther ran over a bump in the road which turned out to be a stop stick. Air escaped from all four tires at such a fast rate he almost lost control of the vehicle. The truck came to a sudden halt. An irritated cop shouted for them to step out of the car with their hands on their heads.
Ronny complied with the second command was given. He knew how scenarios like this turned out for people like him if they made a sudden move. Ronny didn’t want to give any of those cops sitting in the dozen police cars on the scene a reason to pull the trigger. He knew the little joy ride he’d been on was going to result in his incarceration. He had a warrant in the state of Tennessee.
On the other hand, Luther didn’t know how to act. He’d never had a run-in with the law. He sat motionless behind the steering wheel until an officer snuck up beside him and pointed a gun in his face. Luther stuck his hands in the air and followed the cop’s directions to the letter.
Dixie got the call at one in the morning. It took that long for the police to contact her regarding the breach of security at the Cup & Spoon. She didn’t waste her time asking if Luther was involved. Dixie already knew the answer. By the time she marched through the front door of the police station, she was hotter than blazes.
The desk sergeant asked if Dixie wanted to press charges. Her response was she didn’t see how they could prosecute stupid. They released Luther to her. Poor Ronny was taking a trip to the great state of Tennessee. A ten-year warrant for his arrest waited for him to answer for in a court of law. Dixie fired the most significant pain in the ass she’d ever had in her life on the ride back to the eatery.
The head manager figured Luther could find a lift home. She had more pressing problems than Luther stroll home in the middle of the night to worry about. A door needed to be hung on its hinges by morning. It was going to be a tough job, but she wasn’t about to ask for Luther Pigg III to hang around and help.
Tension as thick as the three-week-old chocolate pudding sitting in the Cup & Spoon refrigerator permeated the atmosphere at the restaurant for several weeks following the door incident. The common consensus at the liar’s table was Dixie shouldn’t have fired Luther. Anyone could make a mistake.
They refused to speak to her which made taking their orders difficult. The mutual agreement they came up with was for the old guys to write out their requests on a napkin and hand it to her. Dixie’s thoughts on the matter didn’t matter much, but she wished the old men would mind their own business. She knew an eatery across town which could use a good liar’s table.
Ronny was Elba Mae’s third cousin. The ladies at The Hen House didn’t think his extradition to Tennessee right but were glad he didn’t get shot. From what they heard, he was facing some serious time down south. Two weeks after the door pulling incident. Luther Pigg III strutted into the flower shop and asked for an application. Elba Mae gave him the stink eye as soon as he made his way to the counter. He asked if they had a job application. Naomi handed him one from the pile she had in the cabinet next to the cash register.
Colleen moved in from the backroom and studied Luther with a critical eye. “You can fill that out if you want, but I wouldn’t do it here. Elba Mae has a serious bone to pick with you over what happened to Ronny. You don’t want to mess with her when her hackles are up.”
The bell attached to The Hen House door jingled when Luther stepped on to the sidewalk with a dejected look on his face. He wanted to work with The Hen House ladies. Luther heard rumors they were bounty hunters in their spare time. There was a good chance he could get in on some of the action. Once they figured out he was the man for the job, they’d have to give him a gun to carry. There was no telling what sort of damage Luther could cause with a loaded firearm.
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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