Ketchup & Mustard

Susan parked her Honda in the empty lot. She got out of the car and spied what must have been an old Pizza Hut.

This can’t be right, she thought.

I must have the wrong place.

She took a deep breath, straightened her orange skirt, and tucked her sunglasses into her bright purple blouse. Her choice in clothing was much brighter than her mood.

There was no signage on the building. The sun was bright, and she couldn’t tell if the lights were on. Driven by sheer desperation, she approached the side-door where she saw a dirty Hours of Operation sticker on the window that looked like it had seen a nuclear apocalypse.

She hunched down, put a hand over her brow, and inspected the dining area on the other side.

Empty.

This was a stupid idea.

She turned around and started to retreat but was startled when she felt the unexpected crawl of a spider. She jumped and her heart raced, but it wasn’t a spider at all. It was a thin, dingy looking string. She followed it up and discovered a bell attached to the awning.

She looked around self-consciously. Most of the area was deserted and that made her feel vulnerable.  She was dressed like a box of crayons and felt ridiculous for putting herself in a potentially dangerous situation.

I must do this, she thought. I must have justice.

The silence was palpable, but she could feel an irreversible courage welling up inside her. She rang the bell, but instead of ringing, La Cucaracha played, pathetically. This startled her even more than the string! She could feel the tiny hairs on her forearms rubbing against her festive blouse sleeves.

La Cucaracha was suddenly replaced with a distorted voice. 

“Code word!” called the speaker in a cartoony-sounding southern drawl.

She looked around and spotted the rusty old loud speaker.

“Press the button lady!”

She jerked to attention and hastily scanned the door frame. She found it and pressed the button.

“Ba-nana ha…”

She had already been briefed on the code word but felt ridiculous saying it. After another deep breath she felt fully composed.

“Banana Hammock,” she said confidently.

Buzz. Click.

She opened the door and stared at the desolate dining room. Here goes nothin’, she thought.

“Howdy! You must be Susan.”

She walked into the center of the wood paneled room. Arrays of wooden booths sat under dusty stained-glass chandeliers.

It was Definitely a Pizza Hut, she thought.

“Yes, I’m Susan.”

 Nothing could prepare her for what she saw next.

“Ricky Ravingo, Revenge Artist, at your service!”

The man rounded the order counter. He wore a bright yellow shirt tucked into red slacks. Around his waste was a gun holster with a toy gun inside of it. He turned to face Susan and gave her a toothy grin. His neck-tie had flying corn dogs on it.

Corn dogs, she thought? He must be single. There is no chance for this man.

“Um, hi Ricky…” she said, spying a derelict Pac-Man machine across the room. “Can we turn the lights on?”

“Can’t. Power company turned me off ‘couple years ago. Are you needin’ some revenge?”

So much for formalities.

“Yes, that’s what I’m here for. I’ve been told you can humiliate people in… creative ways.”

“Not really. I do it the same way every single time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, there’s variations ‘n such, but the key ingredients of my art remain the same.” He curled an eyebrow and added special emphasis to the word art.

“And what are these key ingredients, if you don’t mind my asking.”

He reached behind the order counter and pulled out a cowboy hat. Strangely, it was half yellow, half red. He put it on.

“Ketchup and mustard.”

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