The Liar’s Table
The Liar’s Table is a short work of fiction in which characters from The Henhouse series show up at the Cup & Spoon to irritate the waitress with their gossip. #diner #Cup & Spoon #Tecumseh #Indiana #Henhouse series #short fiction
They started trickling into the restaurant at five-fifteen on the dot. I could set my watch by them if I wore a watch. Those guys always grab a seat at the round top in the corner. It gives them a certain degree of privacy while they spin their tall tells. Tonight was going to be no different.
The first person to sit down at the liar’s table first
Ray O’Brien was the first one through the door. Ray headed for the Cup & Spoon as soon as he turned the key in the lock of his motorcycle shop. I’m going to have a lot to report to his wife when I make my call in the morning. He not only ordered the chicken special with mash potatoes smothered in gravy and fried okra, but he also put in an order for the biggest piece of chocolate cake I could scare up in the kitchen, Colleen might even throw in another dozen roses for information like that.
After Ray’s wife opened her flower shop over on Maple Street, roses became the standard rate I receive for spying on her husband. I’d do it for free, but she claims it’s better to have a paid informant. Before she became a florist, she used to set me up on dates with Ray’s single biker friends.
Colleen proved to be a better flower arranger than she was a matchmaker. She found me a lot of losers before I caught a keeper. I was fortunate. Colleen finally introduced me to Walt. We’ve been married going on five years now. His biker friends call him Snake Eyes, but I don’t see the resemblance.
Chopper is the next arrival at the liar’s table
The guy who walked in next was all the proof I needed I was getting a better deal with the roses. Chopper was one sexy piece of walking, talking man flesh, but after one date, I knew he had major commitment issues. He did have those sexy sky-blue eyes and the fact he hadn’t lost his hair going for him. He was also the only frequent flier at the Liar’s Table without a beer gut. Chopper and Ray huddled at the round top as soon as the bail bondsman sat down in a chair.
The two men’s conversation stopped midstream whenever I moved to the table like they didn’t want me to overhear a word they said. I should probably tell Colleen Ray, and his best friend is up to something, but I’d hate to cause the O’Brien’s marital trouble. My snitching on Ray about his eating habits is one thing, but my guess is he started working for Chopper in his bail bonds business. Colleen would file for divorce if she suspected Ray was doing Chopper’s bounty hunting work.
The next regular to strut through the door was Luther Pigg Jr. He’s one member of the Liar’s Table I wish would eat at home. He has the bad habit of complaining about the food and the service in hopes he’ll get a free meal. He leaves a fifty-cent tip even though I fill his coffee cup twice as often as I do for everyone else.
The Pigg family are charter members of the liar’s table
The Pigg family are charter members at the Liar’s Table. Luther Pigg was the original grumpy old man to sit down at the round top. The Pigg family passed the job of driving the Tecumseh city trash truck from one generation to the next up until Luther Pigg III came along. He’s a no-account who can’t hold down a job. We hired him here at the Cup & Spoon for about five minutes. He got fired after he pulled the back door off the building after he chained it to the bumper of his truck. That’s another story for another time.
Luther was followed by Jack Harper. Jack is a little shy of being a lifetime felon. He’s one of Chopper’s best customers. The man’s in jail more than he’s out, which accounts for the fact he never sits with his back toward the door. Shorty Smith walked in as soon as Jack got seated. He’s a wiry guy who has trouble sitting still. I try to keep the coffee pot away from him.
Even the preacher showed up to the liar’s table
Pastor Wesley Andrews from over at Mount Calvary Christian Church was the last to arrive. If you ask me, he’s a little out of his element mingling with this group of reprobates. He might be trying to save their souls, but he’ll end up backsliding if he ain’t careful.
Every small town with a population higher than fifty has a restaurant like the Cup & Spoon. We’re a mom and pop establishment, serving home cooking at a reasonable price. We provide a warm, dry place where old farts can gather and gossip while enjoying a good meal.
The Cup & Spoon provides a needed community service because of the liar’s table
There ain’t no greater service for a diner to offer a community than keeping these guys away from the house and out of their wife’s hair. I figure we probably saved a dozen marriages and prevented a couple of murders by giving these Liar’s a safe place to tell their fibs. We don’t offer much in the way of décor. The red Naugahyde on the chair seats and benches is cracked and peeling. The walls are stained yellow from back in the day when we had a smoking section. The furnishings and kitchen equipment were old when the previous owner bought them at a tax auction. We could use a remodel, but what would be the point? One thing you can say about the place is it looks established.
They were in the middle of talking about Harley motorcycle stuff and muscle car junk by the time I brought their drink order to the table. It’s the same sort of conversation they have every night of the week. I tend to block out most of what they say, but sometimes a juicy piece of gossip gets thrown into the mix.
The liar’s table tossed a big bone out into the atmosphere
Tonight the liar’s table tossed a big bone out into the atmosphere. It was a piece of information I could chew on all week and not lose interest. Jack was the one who tossed the meaty matter into the air like it was a smoke vapor of little consequence.
“Did you hear about Stan Jones? He got picked up on a DWI a couple of weeks ago. I hear the judge threw the book at him. He has to do a lot of community service, and I mean a lot when I say a lot.”
My ears perked up as soon as those words escaped Jack’s mouth. Stan Jones is my insurance agent. We’ve had our home and car over at Economy Insurance for years. I was still ticked off about the way he raised our rates after my husband had a little fender bender over on Grant Street last fall. Karma can be a real bitch. Stan’s rates were going to shoot through the roof unless it worked differently when an insurance agent had an incident.
Luther Pigg Junior got comfortable at the liar’s table
Luther Pigg Junior leaned back in his chair and tucked his fingers behind the straps of his bib overalls. His jowls wiggled when he said, “I heard they were making him be the sumo suit-wearing dummy for the women’s self-defense class they’re putting on over at the high school gym. I’d buy a ticket to see that. You know anything about how I could go about getting a seat at the gym to watch Stan get pushed around by those women?” Luther looked in Chopper’s direction when he asked the question.
The bail bondsman glanced up from the cell phone he held in his hands. The man seemed to always be studying the screen or taking calls. He’d sometimes leave in a hurry if there were a request for his services over at the city jail. “I don’t know anything about a women’s self-defense class. Why would you ask me about something like that?” A smile spread across Chopper’s face. He handed his cell phone to Ray. A sly grin appeared on the motorcycle mechanic’s face before he gave the cell phone back to the bail bondsman. The two of them were up to something. I might get roses for life if I could figure out the answer to the mystery.
“I just thought since you had an in over at the courthouse, you might know all about the community service project Stan’s been sentenced to,” Luther said.
“Stan’s not my client. He used Walter Bailey. He insulted the night court judge. She’s throwing the book at him. They added a resisting arrest and a controlled substance charge after further investigation,” Chopper said.
I hurried to take the orders from the liar’s table
I hurried to take their orders. Time was ticking, and I had four other tables that needed my attention. They requested four of the fried chicken specials. The cook was already working on Ray’s. I handed the ticket to Jimmy through the window leading into the kitchen. When I moved back to the table to give them refills, I thought they’d be done talking about Stan Jones and Economy Insurance, but they weren’t.
“Didn’t your wife used to work for Stan over at Economy a couple of years ago,” I heard Jack ask Ray.
“Yeah. My wife hated working for Stan. He treated her bad and paid her next to nothing. There were a few times when I wanted to go have a serious conversation with the creep, but Colleen stopped me. She said we couldn’t afford Chopper’s rates even with my friend discount.”
I could picture what Ray would have done to Stan
I could picture what Ray would have done to Stan during one of his little talks. The insurance man was the sort of guy who deserved a serious conversation with a badass biker with a friend who was a bail bondsman. I had to chuckle when I sat Ray’s coffee down on the table next to him.
“I hear she’s doing good over at the flower shop she started with those two women she partnered with. It’s nice to hear about somebody getting ahead. That doesn’t often happen these days,” Jack said.
“The church uses The Hen House when we order flowers for special occasions and for members of the congregation who are in the hospital. Those ladies have a special way of putting a personal touch into every arrangement they make,” the Preacher said. It was the first words out of his mouth I’d heard since he sat down at the table.
I don’t know a damn thing about flowers
“I don’t know a damn thing about flowers, but I hear the women Colleen works with are lookers. Do you think you could hook a fellow up with one of them,” Luther Pigg Junior asked?
“Not on your life. Colleen would kill me if I even made the suggestion. Naomi is out of your league, and Elba Mae Johnson is too much woman for any man. The only guy at this table I’d think about hooking up with one of them is Chopper. Colleen and I have been talking. It’s our opinion, he needs the love of a good woman now that he’s reached middle age.”
You should have seen the bail bondsman turn pale
The bail bondsman turned pale the second the conversation turned in the direction of The Hen House. He choked on the water he was about to swallow when Ray mentioned fixing him up with one of Colleen’s friends. I know Chopper has commitment issues, but his reaction was a little dramatic, given the situation. I wasn’t the only one to notice.
“Stop being so damn melodramatic. Colleen said hooking you up with one of them wouldn’t work anyway. Elba Mae wouldn’t be interested, and Naomi is off-limits. The woman went through enough with the guy she was married to. Colleen says Robert Petlowski was a nasty piece of work. She claims the best thing that ever happened to Naomi was when he dropped dead in that Atlanta hotel room.”
The bail bondsman didn’t relax. The man looked as guilty as a fox who had climbed into a hen house and made off with the farmer’s best hen. The man had secrets. There was so much mystery hovering in the corner over the round top table. It was like I was listening in on a meeting over at the CIA with double agents and counter-espionage taking place right in front of me.
A riddle at the liar’s table
A flesh and bone riddle was sitting here that I was going to solve as sure as my name was Stella Louise Graves. The bell on the counter rang, signaling I needed to pick up some hot food. I didn’t have any more time to loiter at the Liar’s table and try to solve the enigma.
Two cops strutted their stuff through the door almost as soon as I delivered food to the Liar’s table. It was a sure thing the entire second shift would be rolling into the parking lot any second. Cops were given a special discount during the evening hours. The objective was to have our parking lot packed with police cars during peek robbery times. Their presence discouraged armed robbery attempts. If the boss was in a good mood, they even ate free.
A plump lady with a beehive blonde hairdo sauntered in and took up a seat at a table near where the liars were blissfully spinning their tales. Her back was turned to the men seated at the round top. I thought it was odd at the time because she had her pick of where she could enjoy a peaceful meal. I moved in her direction and tried to hand her a menu.
What the plumb lady did to the guys at the liar’s table
She shook her head no and said she only wanted coffee. The restaurant started to fill up after I took the steaming cup of caffeine to her table. I didn’t pay her any more attention except to refill her cup whenever I made my rounds, but I did notice she shot some hot looks over her shoulder in the direction of Luther Pigg Junior. I can’t say as I blame her. The dinner crowd thinned out. The conversation at the Liar’s Table was going strong. Luther appeared to be a little nervous.
I started to move across the floor with a coffee pot in hand when there was an eerie lull in the conversation. The fleshy well-dressed blonde smiled, lifted her leg, and let one rip. She tossed a five-dollar bill on the table, turned in Luther’s direction, and gave him the finger.
The fart heard around the world
The entire restaurant watched as she strutted toward the door. The echo of it slamming shut was followed by loud laughter, which reverberated through the restaurant. I almost dropped the coffee pot when I doubled over with a bad case of hilarity, but I was a professional waitress. We never drop a hot coffee pot, no matter how hectic the situation. By the time things calmed down, the entire eating establishment was holding their bellies. Luther Pigg Junior’s face turned a bright shade of red.
“That there was Wanda Freeman. We had a thing until two days ago. She said she was going to get back at me. I guess she just did,” Luther said.
Luther cleared up the mystery
That cleared up the mystery about the identity of the farting woman, but Ray and Chopper were still hiding something. I’m an experienced snooper who knows how to uncover secrets. All it requires of me is to listen and be patient. It will be a cold day in Hell before a table full of Liars can pull the wool over my eyes. I’ve had years of skill waiting tables at a country style home cooking restaurant, and my mama didn’t raise a fool. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the information once I uncover what they’re hiding. It might come in handy for a person to have a bail bondsman who owes them a favor.
There’s no telling when Walt’s old Harley is going to need to be fixed for the price of parts. I do enjoy those roses, though. They make my house smell pretty. Walt’s good for a lot of things, but he doesn’t bring home the roses.
Separate checks for the liar’s table
I dropped the men’s separate checks in front of them on the table. It took those old men ten minutes before they moved to the counter and paid. A blanket of darkness had fallen over the parking lot. I watched through the window as they climbed in their vehicles and drove away. The tips lying on the table were about what I expected. Ray, Chopper, and Preacher’s amount was average. Shorty Smith and Jack could only spare a dollar. Luther Pigg didn’t leave behind one red cent.
I’ll have a little surprise waiting for him the next time he sits down at a table at the Cup & Spoon. It’ll be one of those deals I hope the Health Department never finds out about.
Who is Molly Shea?
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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