March 28th, 2019


LJ Idol Prize Fight: "Grelz"

lj Idol prize fight | week 18 | 1200 words
Keep It Safe


Behind the bus depot in the heart of the old city, Lucky Jack's Diner boasted the meanest cook in the county. Grelz Janek was cantankerous and ill-made, but he was as much a fixture as the diner itself.

By some mysterious stroke of fortune, his cooking bore no resemblance to the rest of him. Grelz was brilliant behind a skillet, an artist whose omelets were so light they could nearly float right off the plate. His home fries were legendary, and waffles made men weep.

He crafted a club sandwich so crisp and tempting that even the city's biggest food-snobs were powerless to resist it.

Being an inherent grouch, Grelz and happiness were destined to exist in universes that would never meet. But the closest Grelz got was in Lucky Jack's kitchen, surrounded by piles of pots and pans and griddles. He sliced, he chopped, he seared and fried and flipped. He tossed things around and made a resounding racket mere words could never penetrate.

He was a horrific hurricane of glaring eyes and wordless grunts, pausing only to yank new tickets off the order wheel or smack the bell that announced when food was ready.

No one knew where he'd come from or where he lived, but everyone agreed that was probably for the best. Grelz would slip out into the alley when his shift was over, gone before anyone noticed. He disappeared into the darkness, or trudged down the sidewalk with a cloud of irritability whirling around him that kept other people from talking to him or even looking too close.

The manager and waitresses wondered what Grelz did in his spare time, but none of them knew. Did he run with gangsters and scare old ladies out of their rent money? Did he train guard dogs, or maybe moonlight as a bounty hunter? They were sure it had to be something mean.

Their speculations never quite reached the truth, but they weren't far wrong. Grelz's hobbies were decidedly unpleasant.

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