Delusions of Hunger

By Andrew Looney

It was very late at night, and I was starving, so I drove out to a diner I like to go to and ordered a hot turkey sandwich. But the waitress screwed up my order. Instead of the turkey sandwich, with gravy on the mashed potatoes, she brought me a friend chicken platter. I told her she'd goofed, but she insisted that it was what I'd ordered, and even pulled out her little notepad to show me what she'd written down when she took my order. So I thought, OK, my memory's going... I guess I did order the chicken. It didn't really matter anyway - the chicken looked good, and I was really hungry, so I dug into it.

But I knew something was really wrong when the chicken platter changed into a waffle with a side order of eggs. The waitress stopped by and asked how everything was, and I told her I was having trouble because my food kept changing.

"Look", I said, "I originally ordered a turkey sandwich, but you brought me a fried chicken platter. Then the fried chicken changed, and now I'm eating a waffle. What's going on?"

The waitress shook her head in confusion and disbelief. "Sir, you ordered a waffle with eggs, and that's what I brought you, a waffle and eggs. Look, here's your order. See, it says 'Waffle & eggs.'"

Then I realized the waitress was changing too. The waitress had been wearing glasses before, and now she wasn't. And her hair had changed from brown to blond. And her uniform had been pink but now it was blue. And suddenly it all made sense! From her perspective, nothing had changed at all, because she had been changing right along with it!

I looked down at my food and discovered it had transformed into a chocolate donut and coffee. And I looked around at the diner, and saw that it had become a doughnut shop. The pink neon sign in the window that used to say "Open All Night" now said "Open 24 Hours," in green neon.

And then suddenly, I was gripped with panic. If the diner was changing, what else was changing? Is the whole world changing? Or am I just going mad? I bolted for the door and ran out into the parking lot. My car looked the same, and the city looked the same. But the diner sure looked different. And as I stood there looking at it, it changed again. The lights went out, and it became suddenly empty. I ran back up to the door and saw that the sign now said "Fresh Delicious Donuts," and made no promises about staying open late. I turned back around, and there in the parking lot I saw the waitress, unlocking her car.

"Sorry, honey," she called out to me, "we closed an hour ago."

My stomach growled as I walked back to my car. "I've gotta get some food," I said to myself.

Copyright © 1996 by Andrew Looney.

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