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The  man sat at a table in the crowded restaurant. Upon the arrival of the waitress he smirked at the menu, “The Country Breakfast used to be five ninety five and now it’s six ninety five, what happened?”

He berated her as if it was her personal decision to change the price, reprint the menus and exclusively piss him off over “…a whole fucking dollar more…” and with an apology she left to find out.

His level of uncouth was astounding; the raspy 2 pack a day voice could be heard about the clatter of the flat ware on ceramic, the chatter of customers and the clamor of the kitchen. He coughed into his napkin with the force of a sea lion’s bark and blew his nose into the same paper cloth he would be using to wipe stray food from his mouth. The ice in his glass clanked up against his brachycephalic face as what was left of the nearly empty Bloody Mary filtered through his yellow, smoke stained mustache. He blew his nose again as the woman he was with looked on at the sad bits her life had to offer. He made a boisterous ruckus as everyone around him stared out of the corners of their eyes. Every patron around the tumultuous table heard that she finally wanted a divorce after 30 years, how he had no idea why she couldn’t move on from something that “…happened once, two years ago!!…”, how he was not going to apologize again, how she had lost any and all respect for him since the affair. The sordid man sloshed back the drink again in hope of gaining a few more drops of alcohol to fuel their final feud and he became suddenly and completely quiet.

One of the three olives from the drinks wilted garnish had found it’s way into his trachea and lodged itself deep in his chest. The man sat there as his face turned red, pounding the table, sending silverware soaring. He stood up and grabbed his throat as the glares of the room shifted from the peripheral to directly at the choking bastard; trying to get someone, anyone to help. The entire dining room was in a kind of daze, unable to move, except a bus boy who ran over and got behind him, wrapped his arms over the top of his round beer belly and shoved in as hard as he could, and again and again.

The sloppy man’s face was turning purple; he’d been choking for almost two minutes now. The bus boy told the man to lay down laid down and he pointed at the ex wife and said “You! Call 9-1-1 right fucking now!” the bus boy pointed again at his co worker “Lando, get the fuck over here, I’m gonna need your help in a minute.” The bus boy began to try compressions. The man was too overweight to do the heimlich properly; the spare tire he carried around his guts would literally be the death of him. “Watch me, we’re gonna switch at 300. One, two, three, four…” he said as they kneeled beside the man.

The ex wife called EMS, “I need an ambulance over on Chuck Dawson, oh…hehehe… I don’t know it’s a restaurant… Umm…haha… Waysons… No I don’t know the address. My husband… My ex husband is choking. Umm…four minutes ago…heheh.. He just went unconscious.” She stayed on the line as the operator gave instructions, and continued to giggle between each direction “Someone’s already done the heimlich…hehe… It didn’t dislodge…hehehe. Yes, they’re doing them now.” His face and fingers were as blue as violet blossoms and it was now 8 minutes since his last breath.

She had large, devious smile creep across her worn face and let out a louder, more jovial guffaw as a sly realization came to her. She was free, no more papers to fight over, no more awkward fights in public places.  With that realization a awesome sense of peace rushed over her; she sat back in the diner chair and watched as the first bus boy waited to switch, to start a third round of compressions on the fat breathless man. “Shit, I can’t feel a pulse anymore. Keep going Lando.” said the bus boy as the crowd looked on in terror. 10 minutes, the air still devoid of sirens.

His puke brown windbreaker was pulled down around his sagging arms, the white wife beater he always wore was damp with a thin film of stale and sour sweat, his body shaking with every thrust of his ribcage. 13 whole minutes of plugged lungs.

She took in a deep breath through her nose, held it in for a quick moment and released. She grabbed her purse, her keys and walked out of the busy restaurant with a spring in her step, right past the EMTs as they rushed in to save the man’s life at the 15 minute mark.

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Jordan Clayton

I know a little about a lot, I write what I feel and know. I feel like Hank Chinaski lately. I've lived near airports all my life. I think; it gives the impression of escape.

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