The Selection: “And One for the Road” from the short story anthology “Mistresses of the Macabre”
The Author: Joanna Parypinski (picture at left cropped from the author’s website), born in Chicago in 1989, but with an “Indiana connection” in that she spent her undergraduate years in Indiana as a student at Butler University in Indianapolis. (more about this author may be found in the brief newmyths.com interview at https://sites.google.com/a/newmyths.com/nmwebsite/contributors/joanna-parypinski )
(For an explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/story roster see here. In the 2016 edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” since this year is my home state’s bicentennial. 🙂 )
“And One for the Road”
“I was on a merry-go-round with dark, snarling horses and poles made of bone. No off switch. Circles of hell.”
What are your thoughts on Deja-vu? Is it a phenomenon you frequently experience? And what if deja-vu were more than a mere trick of the mind – did you ever think about that? Maybe some segments of time are repeated and are “inescapable” and people can get “caught in a loop” with no escape. I guess this story could be described as a case of deja-vu on steroids. The author ends this story with the narrator herself telling us about another explanation of the Deja-vu like phenomenon:
“There’s a symptom of PTSD called intrusion, where the sufferer is plagued by nightmares or daytime flashbacks. They say in severe cases, the sufferer can return to the memory continually to change the traumatic event. Reality is broken, so they try to fix it.”
This explanation is closer to what happens to “Maggie,” the protagonist of the story, a 10-year veteran in her waitress job at “Ed’s Good Eats” diner “in the middle of Nowheresville.” The launch point for her story occurs when she is awakened by the short-order cook after having dozed off waiting for the coffee to brew (apparently a habit of hers). The diner is sparsely populated – one young mother with a baby who can’t stop crying, a “city couple” who ignore each other over their breakfast, and a “cowboy” with a smarmy smile fortified by three golden teeth. Another “customer” is about to join them… (if this were a Twilight Zone episode – and it wouldn’t make a bad one – the camera would pan over to Rod Serling at this point, perhaps with him sitting in one of the vacant booths gesturing with the hand holding his ubiquitous cigarette)
Turns out the next customer who comes in is a young kid who has just laid down his motorcycle after hitting a patch of gravel a little down the road. He is clearly scraped up pretty badly and – the telephone being out from an overnight storm – Maggie offers to go get the first aid kit to try and get him “patched up.” After this the stress of the diner’s confined space ratchets up pretty quickly. Baby crying. City couple getting rude. Unwelcome advances and gropes from the cowboy. Injuries to the young motorcyclist far greater than we initially thought, etc. Just when things are about to reach critical mass, Maggie is awakened again by the short-order cook. Just a dream? Of course it won’t be that easy for her…
This story may be found as part of the short story anthology, “Mistresses ofthe Macabre” available at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Mistresses-Macabre-Lori-Michelle/dp/0988556952 As of this writing, the kindle version is available for a mere $1.99.
I’ve posted about this author’s work before here at Bibliophilopolis, and recommend her novel, Pandora, if you’re a fan of the horror genre. My review of that book maybe found here. and I also featured her short story, “The Garden” in a previous iteration of Deal Me In.
More about Deja-vu http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/the-psychology-of-deja-vu.html
Two down and fifty to go!
Playing card (at top of this post) found at https://playingcardcollector.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/nevskie_playing_cards_the_night_of_diamonds.jpg