When you are the owner of a restaurant, you will never welcome a slow day. But at the end of this one Dave will count his blessings that the only customer that came in today made a silent retreat before witnessing the unfolding disaster. The diner is a mess. A whimpering bat named Eric, or Enrique, or Erich, as far as we know, is standing against the wall, arms / wings raised, shivering with fear because a raging unicorn is threatening to slit his throat with his uni-horn. All of Eric’s belongings are lying in the center of the floor and a wheezing T-rex named Mike is thundering about in the middle of it all. It’s simply bad for business.
“Dave, seriously! Come over here.”
Reluctantly Dave stands down, turns around and walks towards Mike. Eric gasps and slides to the floor, temporarily relieved, but for how long?
“What is it?” “This paper. It looks like a file or something.”
Dave peers at the sheet of paper on the floor. It’s official stationary, containing the letterhead of Hospital San Hipólito, Mexico City, Mexico.
RECOMMENDED TREATMENT PLAN
Doctor G. Hierra Ruiz
Patient: E. Hernandez.
Diagnosis: DISSSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER
Dave and Mike glance at each other and stare at Eric. He is sitting against the wall, eyes closed, not paying attention to his surroundings. Dave whispers: “What are we dealing with? Did he escape a mental institution? Is he dangerous?!” Dave keeps reading.
After elaborate analysis and therapy sessions we have established a minimum of four alternate personalities. Patient has different levels of co-conciousness with alters and suffers from amnesic blanks. Due to docile and unthreatening nature of patient, recommended treatment is three phase-oriented, resulting in patient’s successful integration and rehabilitation into society.
Dave and Mike look up again. Mike whispers: “Oh my god. He’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, except nicer.” Dave and Mike turn towards Eric who has slumped on to the floor and started snoring.
“What do we do?” Asks Mike. “We wake him up.” David answers in a determined voice.
Dave the unicorn is circling Eric. Eric is rotating on the spot, maintaining eye contact with Dave the whole time. Mike is standing a bit further off, breathing heavily, not because of the excitement but because he actually has a sinus problem which you never notice until it gets really quiet. Like right now. Out of the corner of your eye you see the kinda cute girl grab her bag and silently slip out of the booth. She tiptoes across the floor and soundlessly exits the diner.
It’s only Mike, Dave and Eric left now and they are stuck in the most surreal showdown you will ever encounter in a pizza parlor not run by an Italian mob.
Eric opens his mouth. “Ehrm?”
“AHA!!!” Yells Dave.
“AHA! Ehrm is not a German word!”
“Mais naturellement I do not speak la langue German. Do I look comme un barbarian?” Eric replies in a thick French accent.
“ARE YOU NOT EVEN GOING TO MAKE AN ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN THIS?!?”
Dave’s voice is very high pitched at this point and in between every word he is snorting like a common plough horse. He is still circling Eric and jabs his sharp horn at Eric’s face as if he were holding him at knifepoint.
“Je ne comprend pas. Explain whut?”
Dave scrapes his front right hoof over the floor, bucks and is right about to charge when Mike jumps in, shielding Eric with his big tail. He waves his little arms at Dave.
“Hold on you guys, let’s try and stay calm already. Let’s talk to each other.”
“TALK IN WHAT LANGUAGE?!? WHAT IS NEXT, POLISH? CHINESE? BLOODY ESPERANTO?!?” Dave’s eyes are bloodshot.
Mike turns around. “Eric, what I think Dave is trying to express, is that we are slightly surprised that you have posed as a Mexican immigrant to me and as a German traveller to Dave.”
“I am French.”
Mike pauses. “Eric, you spent half an hour talking about your grandmother’s enchiladas yesterday. It gave me an after dinner dip just listening to it.”
“I do not remember cette conversation.”
“MAYBE YOU DON’T REMEMBER BECAUSE YOU WERE POSING AS A GERMAN AND TOO BUSY CONVINCING ME THAT WE SHOULD HAVE A BRATWURST AND SAUERKRAUT PIZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH AHHHHH AHHHHHHH AHHHHH !”
By this point Dave is no longer speaking, only braying.
“Impossible. I would ne jamais put a bratwurst dans une pizza. Whut horrible taste.”
“Come on Eric. Stop lying. We know you’re not French. Just tell us what is going on.” Mike is getting desperate.
Suddenly Dave stops circling Eric and trots off into the kitchen. Several doors slam and there is a lot of racket before Dave re-enters, clenching the strap of a backpack between his teeth, the bag itself swinging back and forth under his chin. He holds it in front of Mike’s tiny arms.
“Untie the sthraphs.”
Mike fumbles with the buckle. Four fingers is a slight handicap for fine motor skills. It takes an embarrassingly long time.
Eric is observing all of this with a curious face “Peux je assister?“
Finally the pack opens and Dave shakes it out, spilling all of the contents onto the floor. Dave stirs his hoofs around in the mess from Eric’s bag, shifting among empty candy wrappers, some mismatched socks and a mouldy sandwich. “Okay, there’s his wallet, now check if he’s a spy. I bet he’s working for the Russians!”
“Dave, isn’t that a bit inappropia-“ “SHHH! Here’s his passport!”
On the floor is a beautiful dark green passport with shiny gold letters on it that spell MEXICO. Dave pushes it open with his hoof. There is an overexposed photo of Eric inside and according to the passport his name is Enriqué Hernandez.
“How do you explain this? You little fraud….” Snarls Dave.
“But, but…. I… I… I ‘ave no idea. Je suis born dans Montpelliér! C’est vrai, I swear on the grave of my mother.”
“Yeah, your Mexican mother….” Growls Dave, slowly and threateningly stepping closer to Eric, driving him backwards until he is stuck between the wall and a very, extremely angry unicorn, with a very, extremely sharp unicorn horn pointed within one inch of his throat. Eric gulps and holds his breath.
“Hey Dave, hold on!” Mike is still standing in between Eric’s belongings on the floor. “Come here and look at this!”
“Not now, Mike. “ Grunts Dave.
“No uh, Dave, I really think you need to look at this.”
Anyone wandering into the diner right around this time with a craving for some Italian carbs will stumble onto a remarkable scene. There’s a real angry unicorn, growling and frothing at the mouth, lying on his back in the middle of the floor, kicking his hoofs in all directions. There’s a not-so-tall Tyrannosaurus rex attempting to roll the unicorn over, but his arms are so short that he has to bend really far to reach the enraged animal, resulting in him either having to duck to the side or get kicked in the head several times. It’s somewhat similar to someone attempting to plunge a feral cat into a bathtub and at least as painful.
In one of the booths there’s a kinda cute, geeky girl with green glasses and a dark ponytail sitting backwards in her seat, leaning over the back of the booth, staring at the scene with her jaw dropped to the floor. You notice she’s still wearing braces. Next to her a very large bat is consoling her and patting her hand.
“Woah! Dave, stop it!”
The unicorn aims for the dino’s head on purpose this time. “I bith my thung, you idioth! Geth away from me!”
“Come on Dave, at least let me help you get up.”
“You can’th help me up, Mike! Your dumb arms are too SHORTH!!”
After a bit of a scramble Dave the unicorn manages to calm down, flops to the side and gets up again on all fours. He clears his throat and addresses the unusually large bat:
“Okay Eric, listen up. We know you’re a fraud. Time to come clean.”
Dave trots inside and Mike follows in his trail.
Business is slow today. There’s only one customer in the diner and Eric is making a solid pass at her. He is chatting up this kinda cute, dark-haired, pony-tailed girl with braces and green glasses sipping a fizzy lemonade in one of the booths. She’s wearing a frilly white blouse and these black skinny jeans held up with pink suspenders, topped off with seventies platform shoes. When she laughs out loud, her shiny braces sparkle, but she seems a bit old to be wearing those. You suddenly realize she actually resembles the imaginary daughter of Ugly Betty and Prince.
Dave and Mike are staring at Eric from behind the counter. Eric glances over occasionally but when this happens they both look away quickly while mumbling something, making busy and staring at their toes, or whatever passes for toes. Suddenly Dave pulls Mike down behind the counter.
Dave whispers: “Okay! I’ll count to three and we walk over and confront him with his ruse. Tell him he’s been found out. I think he’s an illegal immigrant without a working permit.”
Mike considers this for a moment.
“But don’t you think he would’ve dropped the Mexican accent then? If he speaks fluent German too?”
“Well, you know, maybe you and him…”
“Him and me what? Dave?” whisperes Mike.
“Well, you know, maybe he was trying to …”
Dave pauses again.
“You know, with you and him…”
“Him and me WHAT?! Dave?!” whisperes Mike a little bit louder.
“SHHHH! Well, you know, with you both being foreigners I just thought he might be trying to bond with you, that’s all.”
“Dave. I’m from South-Dakota!”
“Well, there’s just not a lot of your kind around here.”
“…says the unicorn! You don’t even exist outside of fairy tales!”
“Hey pal, don’t push it! I can’t help it if no-one acknowledges my family tree!! Anyway, let’s go!”
Mike and Dave rise up from behind the counter and tiptoe over to the booth. They approach Eric from behind. He is stroking the girls wrist and by now she is giggling like an idiot.
“Ah mademoiselle. I know that mon eyesight c’est pas bien but my sonar is informing me that you ‘ave a boooootiful body. Je voudrais grimper les etoiles avec toi!”
Dave suddenly halts, drops down again and drags Mike with him behind the booth just as the girl looks up to see who’s walking toward her.
He whispers furiously: “Did you know he speaks French!!?”
“I really need a guy to translate the menu. The French tourists keep leaving because they can’t read it.”
“Dave, I think they left because you offered them a pizza with snail and froglegs.”
“My point exactly. If I’d offered it in French it would have been a hit.”
“So what do we do now?”
“HEY guys. Watcha doin?”
Mike jumps up so quickly he uppercuts Dave’s chin with the top of his huge head and knocks him over on his back. Eric is upside down, hanging at eyelevel, grinning stupidly at Mike and Dave. Mike sorely wishes he could rub his head right now. It hurts like hell.
“Oh *cough* hey Eric! ‘Sup?”
“You know, I think Eric is gaining weight.”
Dave and Mike are outside in the back yard of the diner. They’re both leaning against the wall and Dave is smoking a cigarette; it’s dangling from the corner of his mouth in an easygoing James Dean manner and he looks really cool.
He exhales: “Yesterday I saw him tie a wet cloth around his belly and crawl across the tables to wipe them because he can’t fly over them anymore. “
Mike nods. “I just wish he wouldn’t do it with customers still sitting at the table. He keeps knocking stuff over and I have to clean up after him and apologize to everyone…”
Dave turns to look at Mike. “What are you complaining about? You’re the guy that wanted the extra hand?”
“Yeah sure, but you’re the guy that hired him! I didn’t have a say in it.”
At this point Dave is staring really hard at Mike. His cigarette is still burning but mainly consists of a fine piece of ash hanging on for dear life.
“You hired him.”
“Uh-uh. I didn’t! I got here and he was already working away, said you’d hired him.”
“Mike, what are you talking about?! I’m minding my own business in the kitchen when Erich the bloody Fledermaus comes whisteling in, introduces himself as the new staff, begging für die Pizza while I have been very specific about NOT being BOTHERED while BAKING!!!!”
Dave’s voice breaks and Mike flinches.
“Okay Dave, don’t lose your temper. What are you calling him Erich for anyway?”
“Because that’s his name, ya big lizard, what do you call him?”
“Enrique, of course… Or Eric, when we’re being all American about it.”
“Why would you call a German bat Enrique?”
“Why would you call a Mexican bat Erich?”
The cigarette, still lodged in the corner of Dave’s mouth, disintegrates in a tiny poof of soot. Dave drops the butt from between his lips and extinguishes it with his hoof, making fierce sparks bounce off of the concrete. He shakes his mane.
“Well Mike, it appears we have been played.”
It’s been a number of weeks now, Mike and Dave are finally starting to get used to one another and tapping into each others flow. All the customers are happy because the pizzas are delivered on time, with the cheese right where it belongs and business is picking up quite fast.
Now, this particular sunny Saturday afternoon Mike has arrived a little bit early to bring all the folding chairs and tables outside. He isn’t really looking forward to the job because somehow he keeps getting his fingers stuck between the seat and the sidebars of the chairs, not to mention the trouble of lighting all the little candles at sundown. He never expected to miss thumbs so sorely at this job.
Mike is thumping across the lot towards the diner when he spies a little shadow scurrying across the sidewalk. There are already some chairs out on the curb and the little shadow is dragging a table by it’s leg over the threshold of the diner out onto the terrace.
Mike thumps a bit closer.
“What the what??”
The little shadow, when observed from nearby turns out to be a bat. Quite a large bat at that, most likely a mega-bat. A very strong mega-bat as he’s nearly finished setting up the whole terrace and has now resorted to hovering above the tables to get the tablecloths sorted.
Mike thumps even closer.
The bat is listening to an ipod, happily singing along to whatever’s playing.
“Hey, bat! Hello!”
Still no response. Mike decides to give the bat a whack with his tail. It knocks the headphones off of the bat’s ears and the bat angrily switches the music off.
“¡Joder, cabron! Que esta haciendo!”
“Hi! Did Dave hire you? What’s your name?”
“Oye hombre, soy Enrique, el murciélago grande.”
Apparently Enrique is from Mexico.
“Sorry, the mur-eh-what?”
“A bat, I’m a big bat.” Answers the bat with a thick Mexican accent.
“Oh good, Enrique, you speak English.”
“Claro que si. Call me Eric!”
“Soooooooooooo Eric, “
“Did Dave hire you?”
“Yeah, the unicorn.”
“¿Con el corno unico?”
At this point Mike is getting annoyed and decides to give it a break.
“Okay, I’m Mike, the T-Rex and I deliver the pizza. Did Dave give you the specifics?”
“Oh señor, I don’t knooow.”
“Oh fine.” Mike stomps inside and returns with a big broom.
“Try to keep the floor tidy inside and outside and clear the dishes after people have finished eating. I’ll take all the orders and I do the home deliveries.” Mike hands Eric the broom.
“Oh and you should only sweep the kitchen when Dave’s on a cigarette break. He really doesn’t like to be bothered while he’s baking. Believe me, I learned the hard way. Never knew a rainbow to be so smelly…”