A very short story by D.J. Lutz, copyright February 2011
Little Billy Watson had three joys in his life: his dog Zinger, his big brother Zeke, and his Grandma. His brother watched out for him, his grandma made sure he had a safe place to live, good food to eat, and a warm coat in the winter, but Zinger was the wonder dog, his best friend. Billy was also so proud of his grandma because she and Zeke ran a popular diner on Main Street. Everyone thought that she cooked the best food in town; everyone that is, except the two strangers sitting in the back booth, mocking the food, the diner, and his grandma. They would soon regret their words.
Billy was helping out by bussing tables when he overheard one of the strangers say that the pie was awfully bitter. They started joking about the pie, the diner, even “the old lady back in the kitchen.” Billy was getting pretty darned mad. No one talked about his grandma this way and got away with it. Billy took his 8 year old self right up to the table and said, in the most polite and respectable manner he could, “Excuse me, mister. You might not like the pie, and that’s okay, but don’t talk about my grandmother that way. You got no cause.”
“Well, Slink. Looks like we got a live one here.”
“Yeah, we sure do. Tell you what kid, we apologize for talking that way. You got some mighty big britches on, talking to us. Good on ya. Now here’s ten bucks for the lunch; go give it to your grandma.”
Billy felt a surge of confidence. He had stood up for his grandma and backed those men down.
“Yeah, tell her to go buy something special, like a cookbook!”
The two men stood up, laughing. As they left the diner, he heard them say something about hitting the bank. Billy had seen enough movies to know what that meant. He was back to being hopping mad. A cookbook? His grandma’s cooking was the best ever, especially the pies! He would show them…
It had been snowing for several hours; the temperature had fallen below zero. Parked outside the diner was the only car to be seen, a little junker that belonged to the strangers. Sitting in the passenger seat, Slink said “Dude, how can you see to drive?” His partner replied “Why would we drive? The bank’s just next door. Besides, quit worrying, the cop is still sitting out at the hospital, waiting for 9-11 calls from stranded drivers. By the time he gets the call from the bank, we will be long gone.”
“Have you noticed the snow? If we slide off the road, we’ll be the one calling that cop to pull us out of the ditch.”
“Slink, I got it all figured out. As long as we get the cash before 2:00, we’re fine. The snow plow drives right by here then and we can just follow him out to the interstate. From there, it’s non stop to Cleveland, baby!”
Time was running short. The men shuffled into the bank, guns drawn. After pistol whipping the guard, they had no problem getting the cooperation of the tellers. Three minutes later, they walked back out into the cold, hurrying to their car. The engine started right up, but the wheels couldn’t get any traction. They were stuck.
“Slink, what’s your problem? Get us out of here!”
“Dude, it’s like we’re sitting on an ice rink. The tires…they just spin!”
“Well get outside and push. The plow is coming!”
“Crap, man. I can’t even get the door open. What the hell is goin’ on?”
Little Billy stood on the corner, snug in his warm coat, right next to the open fire hydrant that was now spraying the car with freezing water. A moment later, the plow drove by, completely covering the little car.
Billy went back into the diner.
“Thanks for opening the hydrant, Zeke. Should make for some good skating later.”
“Oh yeah, that snow ain’t goin’ anywhere for at least a week. Look at those drifts. Awesome!”
Their grandma walked out from the kitchen, saying “Anyone want some pie?”
Little Billy Watson smiled. His grandma had the best pie in town!