Author’s Note: This is the fourth excerpt I’m posting from my second book Burgers, Bloggers, & Cops. Read the earlier excerpts here: 1, 2, and 3. For a summary visit this page.
Davids’s performed a three point turn out of a farm driveway, and the vehicle climbed in speed all the way to 95 miles per hour. The hood of the truck rattled with fervor in the wind, and Sean couldn’t help but remember his own car when that unfortunate occurrence happened.
“My car just rattles away too, at this speed.”
“Yeah, this old truck is kind of noisy. Let’s get our mind off of it.”
The detective turned his radio on. A message from the National Weather Service in Lincoln, IL played, and a tornado watch was in effect for the next nine hours.
“Illinois weather!” Davids declared.
Classic country music started playing over the rattle of the metal. It didn’t hide the noise, nor did it fight it. This country was fitting to the farmland. The fallow fields would yield either corn or soybeans during harvest.
“Baby, Baby, Baby, I’ve got my eyes on you.
We’ll go downtown, make some plans—I’ll buy you a ring, I know’ you’ll sing.
The preacher will marry us, whoo-hoo. It’ll be a grand time, don’tcha see. You and mee, baby.
WE GOTTA GOOD THING.”
Davids shut the radio off.
“Let me pop in something better from my CD collection.”
A crying steel guitar, and the wailing of a mariachi horn, plus Sean pictured a pastiche and pasture of Johnny Cash clones arrayed in a choir started crooning their anthem.
“They’re the men, They’re the lawmen.
They shoot straight, they talk tough, they ask the right questions
They’re the lawmen.”
A female ensemble met the male chorus in unison.
“We’d like to see you Lawmen, down at our diner today.
There’ll be tenderloins, flapjacks, and doughnuts today!!!!!”
Sean pretended not to hear those awkward classic country music lyrics as he and his newfound comrade in truth pulled up to the parking lot of Bannhart’s Lubankya Burger restaurant. Sean exited the truck, and walked with Glen towards the door. A crushed to-go cup could be seen at the curb. It read:
“Welcome to the Motherland of Burgers, and the Working Eater’s Paradise, home of the Lubankya Burger.”
Glen and Sean passed through the vestibule entrance, this time the sign at the door told guests to seat their selves. Glen picked a table near the bar, but close to the door in case there was trouble. Both he and Sean seated themselves and waited for a waiter. Davids looked around and chuckled.
“I cannot believe this place is for real. This would be a successful place on the left coast, or the east coast. But here, in the Midwest, we’re practically the Bible Belt—you’ve got to be kidding me?”
Sean agreed in part.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. But, apparently the students from Eureka, ISU, and IWU come around here.”
“Well, I figured it would be popular with you millennials.”
Sean resented that comment. Politically, he was a ‘do-what-works’ kind of guy. He was neither right or left, he was all about finding those policies that worked. Ideologies of the right or left had their chances to perform, and solve the world’s problems but both failed in some form or the other. Communism of the Soviet Union was one such ideology, and he was glad for it. Furthermore, he hated the word ‘millennial, and the anomie invoked from it. He loathed the word “Selfie” too.
The waitress arrived.
“Hello, gentlemen, welcome. Can I get you some drinks to start off?”
Sean didn’t recognize her, which he was happy for, he didn’t want his presence to be known just yet–especially if his potential assassin was sent from this Soviet-themed restaurant. Also, Jenna was not a waitress he would want serving him again. Davids ordered a glass of water. Sean ordered a cup of coffee.
Sean looked around, nothing had changed. There were more people coming into the restaurant now, some sat at the bar, others sat several feet away in booths or tables. They were more college students; maybe some were graduate students from ISU. One person wore a fighting Illini shirt, but as Sean found too often, the shirt doesn’t make the college student.
Davids and Sean both placed their orders; both ordered the flagship item, the Lubankya Burger. The two of them discussed the décor on the wall. Glen thought it was alarming, but he did have a comforting thought.
“At least this isn’t a Neo-Nazi restaurant.”
“Yes.” Sean agreed.
A young woman approached them, and Glen could see the anger in her eyes. The girl was either Sean’s age or two years younger than Sean. She was dressed in business attire that would be hard to see in downstate Illinois, but was common on the streets and in the corporate towers of Manhattan and Chicago. Glen was ready for a fight, yet he didn’t think she was here to fight with them. The girl’s gaze was intent on Sean.
“What do you think you’re doing here?”
The girl’s displeasure was evident towards Sean. Glen bit his tongue and waited to speak, perhaps he wouldn’t need to.
Sean had no idea who she was. He didn’t know what the problem with their presence at Lubankya Burger could be either.
“We’re about to have burgers. What are you doing here?”
Sean had no idea who this woman was or what she was capable of doing.
The woman reached into her pocket and held up her photo ID.
“Lucinda Prione, Barbican Media.”
Sean found it odd that the woman still held her Barbican ID up for all to see. Her photo was current; her office was at Barbican Media’s Corporate Headquarters. Her title listed on the card was Senior Staff Writer (Intern Grade Three).
Sean spoke again.
“What’s wrong with me being here, Lucinda?”
The woman scoffed at the question as if it was an affront to her corporate intern status.
“Fitz told you to not cause any trouble and to not work without me. Also, you brought another person to the restaurant. Again, you violate our policies! I’m going to General Von Tso’s to review it without you, and undo the mess you created. I’m going to log your actions here, and submit it to Barbican’s Bureau of Compliance, Ethics, and Investigations. You’ve caused enough trouble for the company, Livingston. I was told you were unprofessional. They were more than right. You don’t deserve to be Barbican.”
The girl turned around and left the restaurant. It was unclear if she paid or not, but Sean didn’t care. Glen turned to him and grinned devil-may-care to him.
“Charming colleague you have there, Sean! Are they all like that in the newspaper business?”
“No clue. But, I think they’re like that when Barbican Media is around. The Mid-Illini Gazette used to be an independent paper. It was great. After meeting Lucinda, I just realized that I may not be in the media industry for too much longer. I probably should expect to be fired from the Mid-Illini Gazette.”
Davids unrolled his utensils from his napkin, separating the two elements. The silverware stayed put on the table. He placed the napkin on his lap, and looked up at Sean.
“Once blogs and the internet came around, newspapers started to wane. Print will always be around Sean, but we do know that is just a big maybe. But, you’re here as a blogger, like it or not. You can still be a newsman somewhere else. Just maybe not for a newspaper—have you thought about radio or television?”
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