Cafe Loco


Cafe Loco

 Billy Ray Chitwood – 1/25/14

 Hunger had erupted quickly for Jan and me on our road trip to the wine country and we decided to stop at this charming chalet-style place with a quaint name and a lovely stream snaking along the backside. There were rolling hills and clusters of live oaks to enhance the romantic spot. We glanced at each other, nodded in the affirmative, and pulled our SUV into the parking area.

Inside the cafe there were charming Tiffany ceiling lights of lovely stained glass. All booths lining the three walls were green faux-leather with gold edging. The tables and chairs that filled in the rest of the good-sized room were green with gold seating and table cloths. The roadside cafe had few patrons at 2:15 PM. That was understandable – lunch hour over!

Having chosen a booth toward the middle of the room, we were looking over the menus when a lone man took a table next to our booth, some four feet away. Jan and I said, “Hi,” smiled politely as he sat. He raised his brows, cocked his head, and looked away. Jan and I smiled, dipped our heads, and tacitly agreed that the man could have at least responded with a “Hi” of his own.

The waitress, Lily, according to her ID pin, brought water for the man at the table and for us. The tiny young lady with freckles took our order for club sandwiches and cokes. We looked across at each, road weary but happy, chatting, eagerly anticipating our first night in the wine country at a beautiful resort.

“I’ve got a gun! Do you have a gun?” the man sitting next to us was speaking.

With squinted eyes, I responded, “Beg your pardon!”

“Did I stutter? I’ve got a gun! Do you have a gun?” The strange man was virtually shouting.

His words brought anger. “You’re a rude jerk! If you have a gun, jam it up your ying-yang! We’re about to have our lunch.”

A wide grin came to his face. “Hey, who doesn’t like a man with ‘balls’? I know I do. Guess what? I’m going to save you for last. Maybe I’ll off your pretty lady first.”

Jan was grabbing at my arm, trying to hold me back, but I was up and at the jerk’s table just as he was moving his chair and reaching toward the back of his pants.

He whacked me with just enough power to stun me, making me reel backward into our booth.

Jan screamed, stood, and grabbed at her heavy purse on the seat next to her. More screams came from the few customers in the cafe.

The man’s eyes were doing a loony ‘no vacancy’ look as he made a move toward Jan. As I tried for balance I grabbed at the tall glass of water and threw it at him. I missed. The wide grin still in place he pushed me hard into my seating area of the booth. “Now, sit, or I change my mind about the order of events here today.” At the same time he shoved Jan back to her place in the booth.

“What are you on, man?” I asked incredulously. “Put the gun away. We can talk it all out. You don’t have to do this!” My voice seemed far away, not as loud as I wanted.

I looked at Jan and she appeared to be in shock. She was trembling and her eyes were glazed with terror.

“Why didn’t you stop? Why did you take all the money?” The man was looking at me with a viper stare and eyes now red with his madness. I knew not what to say to him.

So I pled, “Listen, man, I’m not who you think I am. I didn’t take all the money, and I don’t know what it was I should have stopped.”

Then, he laughed maniacally. His body quaked as he stared steadily into my eyes. He moved his gun, aiming it at Jan.

Suddenly the madman crumbled lifeless to the floor.

It took some long seconds of adjustment for me to what happened. Jan remained in a catatonic state.

Standing above and behind the mad man was the cute little freckled waitress named Lily, crying, trembling, her eyes as big as the table coasters, holding a large iron frying pan.

Jan came out of it in time to see me kicking the gun away from the madman. I held for a short time a very emotional waitress.

The madman was taken away by the police on a stretcher.

The rest of our drive to the wine country, I drove with one hand on the steering wheel. Jan occupied the other.

Life sometimes chooses the events that come our way.

The End

The above is a short, short story I put on ReadWave, and it trended for awhile. It’s a writing exercise that forces an author to stay within time constraints (800 words or less/3-4 minutes). Personally I think it is a good ‘discipline’ technique, much like haiku in poetry. It’s my hope that you like it – and, maybe, try it.

If you liked Cafe Loco perhaps you will like some of my longer writing, my books. There are eleven altogether in the genres of mystery, romance, memoir, and politics… Hope you will preview them at the following sites: and (my main website and blog) (short bio sketch)

Please follow me on and 

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12 thoughts on “Cafe Loco

  1. Well done, Billy Ray. I write flash fiction often, and record for podcasts too. A good piece has a beginning, middle, end — introduction, conflict, climax, resolution. So few flash pieces incorporate any, much less all of these elements.

    Your piece does. Bravo,


  2. Thanks for sharing this again, Bill. It reminded me of my school days when boys would be steeling themselves up for a fistfight, puffing themselves up and saying, “Don’ you know I’m loco?!” That was code for completely loosing oneself in a fight, a pure torrent of emotion without thought of consequences or pain. It was actually pretty effective.


    1. ‘Pretty effective’? SO, you did some fistfighting in the earlier days, my friend! 🙂 Actually, with your competitive spirit, that wouldn’t surprise me all too much… You’ve mellowed nicely, Dr. Tim.
      This ‘flash fiction’ is good discipline, I believe, for writers – 800 words or less in 3-4 minutes… Might help me get away from too many passive phrases!
      Anyway, always good to hear from you, Tim… My best to Renni and Gentry.


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