This is a story of a somewhat abnormal day. Not too abnormal, mind you, it was nothing compared to that time a human/donkey hybrid monster stole the diner’s entire supply of wet-naps. This was far less out of the ordinary, only registering about a six on the extraordinary scale.
Our story began on a Monday afternoon, around one, at Helen’s All-U-Can-Eat Diner. At this point, things were still fairly normal. A janitor whose name no one bothered to learn was sweeping the floor, while the titular Helen was standing at the door to greet prospective diners. Keller, the establishment’s stereotypical red-headed gum-chewing waitress, was heading over to a morbidly obese gentlemen to take his order.
“What can I get ‘cha, hun?”
The man lurched forward, having just barely avoided a massive coronary heart attack.
“Durr… durr… BURGERS!” Gobs of spittle flew from his mouth which Keller deftly avoided with the precision of the gymnast she once longed to be. Alas, she hit puberty at age seven, killing those dreams forever. The man’s order taken, Keller went to back to the kitchen, passing Helen along the way. This is very important, because Helen was not just the owner of his diner and thus Keller’s boss, she was also Keller’s mother.
“Did I do well that time?” Keller asked; all traces of her southern-drawl gone.
“Fine sweetie, just like a real waitress.” You see, Keller was far from the ordinary waitress that she displayed to the dining world. She lacked many social skills, which Helen had compensated for by training her daughter to act like a stereotype. She wasn’t even a natural redhead.
Then a roughly six-foot tall stingray hobbled through the door, using its pelvic fins as makeshift legs. It made its way to the main counter and positioned itself over a stool next to the fat guy. Keller, Helen, and the janitor all stared for a moment, and then went about their business. Keller gave the chef the fat guy’s order of “durr… durr… BURGERS” and he got to work. Helen stood in the center of the diner attempting to look intimidating so no one would try to steal the cash register again. The janitor kept sweeping and no one cared. Once her business in the kitchen was done, Keller walked over to the stingray.
“What can I get ‘cha, hun?” The stingray opened and closed its smiley-face mouth several times, as if to make clear no sound could or would come from it. “Uh, alright then. I’ll be right back lickity-split, mister!” Keller power-walked from the stingray over to her mother, cupping her hand around Helen’s ear and whispering.
“What do I put for his order? I can’t understand him!” She whispered as loud as possible without letting anyone else hear.
“Keller, you are a waitress. It is your sworn duty to cater to our patrons no matter how… diverse… they may be.” Helen whispered back.
“Well how to I take his order?” Keller was a loss, one that could make the stingray Helen’s All-U-Can-Eat Diner's first lost customer in years. That thought was all too clear in Helen’s mind; she massaged her temples in hopes of alleviating the stress of potential failure. Truth be told, she had no more of an idea on how to communicate with the stingray than her daughter did. Luckily, inspiration struck Helen like an echinoderm being cracked apart by the mouth-plates of an elasmobranch.
“Try asking Francis. He likes fish.”
Keller dutifully nodded and walked to the booth where regular customer Francis appeared to be enjoying his soup. However Keller soon realized that things had once again taken a turn for the worse: Francis had fallen asleep in his soup… again. Luckily Francis possessed an abnormally large forehead, large enough that it kept his nose and mouth elevated out of the soup. Keller grabbed his shoulder and gently shook him several times to no avail. No matter how much force she applied, Keller had no choice but to accept that time alone could wake Francis from his food coma.
Keller was at a loss now and skulked away in defeat. She would be fired, Helen being her mother or not, and Keller knew nothing of how to function in the outside world. Her social skills were nonexistent, everything about her interaction with other people was tempered through her training to act like a normal waitress. This could not happen to her, she had to prevail! With new resolution, Keller looked back at the stingray and began to formulate a plan. Or, at least she would have begun to formulate a plan had the stingray not been in the act of eating the janitor.
“Excuse me good sir, what might you want to eat from our fine establishment of food-eatery?” The janitor had said to the stingray moments earlier. No one had any idea what the janitor was thinking. He had eventually decided to check in the stingray was male or female, one thing lead to another, and now he was being devoured by the enraged patron.
Keller rushed to the bar, the murder of a janitor would not be as a horrid a mark on the restaurants reputation as the stingray not being served, it was a valued customer after all, but it would result in legal action that Helen could not afford. The stingray made a burbling sound. A bubble floated out from its right spiracle. The janitor’s squirming intensified.
“I’m sor–“ Keller stopped, she had forgotten to use the southern drawl all good waitresses had. “Ah… Pardon me, doll, but you can’t go an’ eat our staff.” She grabbed the janitor’s legs and began pulling in opposition to the stingray’s maw, a tug of war beginning over this employee so unimportant that no one knew his name.
Helen watched from several feet away, her left eye twitching as she struggled to keep the rest of her body from displaying the horror going on inside her mind. Keller had entered into an altercation with a customer! This was the worst possible outcome.
“Heeeeeeey… where-where’s mah’… BURGERS!?” In the confusion and distress which had followed the stingray’s arrival, no had thought to deliver that fat guy’s order and now he had grown impatient. Lifting his tremendous bulk out from his chair was no simple task, in fact it, coupled with the stress from his burger-deprivation, it proved too much for his overburdened heart.
With a noise quite similar to that of a rutting moose bursting from his stretched lips, the man fell forward and collapsed into a spasm-riddled mess on the floor. He flipped over and onto his back with one particularly forceful twitch and began gasping for air though his face only grew a darker shade of blue. Keller, Helen, the chef, and if he had been awake, Francis, all recognized what was transpiring before them. The fat man was having a massive heart attack and would die within minutes should medical treatment not be procured.
Now comes the part of the story which is to be considered extraordinary; a coincidence which was as life-saving as it was contrived. Little did anyone else within Helen’s All-U-Can-Eat Diner realize; their stingray patron was in fact Rita Corleone: world-renowned emergency surgeon.
Rita new exactly what needed to be done and slid from her stool, spitting out the janitor who fell into Keller’s arms knocking them both to the floor. Time was of the essence, and Rita hobbled as fast as her pelvic fins could carry her to the fat guy laying prone on the linoleum tile. She whipped her tail forward, using its barb as a scalpel to remove the patient’s shirt, but she did not yet make an incision. Even the world’s greatest surgeon could not perform a daring open-heart surgery on the floor of a third rate diner alone, she would need help.
With her reflection-less, crescent pupil eyes she looked towards the other inhabitants of the diner, begging for help. The janitor was unconscious from his brief acquaintance with the stingray digestive system, Helen was brutally tugging the ends of her hair to hold off total nervous breakdown, and Francis was still fast asleep in his entree. Keller had no medical experience, but she knew that she was the only one capable of helping Rita and the fat guy. Also, if she let a customer die it would certainly cost more than her job.
Resigned to the grim task at hand, Keller went over and knelt down by the fat guy’s chest opposite of the stingray. Of course, Rita had no way of communicating instructions to Keller, but this arrangement was better than her going in alone.
“Shouldn’t we wash our hands first?” Keller asked futilely, as by the time she finished her question Rita had already made a six-inch incision over the fat guy’s heart. Rita then gestured with her tail to the man’s exposed ribcage. It would need to be bypassed to reach his ailing heart, and quickly. Stingrays lacked the attributes necessary for removing ribs, and there was no medical equipment to compensate with in the diner. This portion of the surgery was up to Keller.
Terror engulfed Keller at this junction. How could she remove this fat guy’s ribs without harming him in the process? A life was in her hands, and more importantly, the integrity of this diner! Images of failure, of the diner being shut down, of Helen disowning her, of being unable to cope with everyday living due to only knowing how to be a waitress, they all flashed through Keller’s mind. But then something gave in her subconscious, the fear replaced by a steely resolution to prevent these visions from ever coming to pass. Engulfed with newfound determination, Keller set her expression to one of grim seriousness.
“Mom, get me a meat tenderizer, stat!” Shocked by her daughter’s outburst, Helen scurried to the kitchen. She emerged just as quickly, carrying the tenderizer and drowning out the annoyed protests of the chef, who had no idea of the chaos ensuring outside his kitchen. Keller grabbed the tenderizer and immediately set to work, bashing it against the fat man’s ribcage with the fury of her potential failure as motivation.
One rib cracked, then another, and another until the man’s troubled heart was on full display. To everyone’s relief, the cause of the heart attack was clearly evident: an entire deep-fried chicken drumstick had become lodged in his aorta. Rita made a small incision with her barb through which the drumstick could be extracted, but ran into an unforeseen complication. Lacking her surgeon’s forceps, Rita’s flaps were simply not dexterous enough to safely remove the blockage on their own. With precision not unlike a gymnast, Keller reached into the wound and carefully pulled the offending chicken leg out.
Immediately the fat man gasped and color filled his complexion once more. Now all that remained was to re-attach the broken ribs and close the incision. Rita knew that this too would prove a challenge without access to her surgeon’s tools, but Keller was on a roll with her new role.
“Get some of the ranch dressing from the closet, it’s old and sticky enough to use to glue his ribs back together. Oh, and bring some wet-naps while you’re at it, we can cut them into strips and use them for thread to stitch up the wound.” This new, assertive and determined Keller frightened Helen into immediate obedience.
The fat guy, whose name was eventually found to be George Blunders, made a full recovery thanks to the brave efforts of Rita and Keller. Helen could not be more proud of her daughter, though she was a bit intimidated by Keller’s newfound self-assurance. And as for Rita Corleone, stingray surgeon extraordinaire? She and Keller both received medals for their bravery and quick thinking. Though in the chaos, no one ever found out what exactly it was that Rita had planned to order at the diner.