Excerpt for Hamburgers are not Aerodynamic by R.G. Emanuelle by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Hamburgers Are Not Aerodynamic

R.G. Emanuelle

Copyright © 2017, R. G. Emanuelle

Dirt Road Books, Inc

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording, printouts, information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons living or dead or to business establishments or events is coincidental.

Hamburgers Are Not Aerodynamic

The road in front of her stretched long and empty. Nothing but tar shimmering with stagnant heat and desert shrubbery. This had to be the stupidest idea she’d ever had, but now that she was on this trip alone, she had to keep going.

Of course, this is not what Cat had in mind when she pitched her idea to Madeline. She had visions of driving down the Iconic Roads of America, the whole Route 66 ideal. They’d just drive the open road, stopping when they were tired at little motels here and there, or maybe cute little bed-and-breakfasts. Their only restriction would be not to get hacked to death in the shower.

They’d eat at roadside diners, funky little places where the locals go for the best chili in the world, or the best enchiladas, or blue-ribbon barbecue. Maybe places she’d seen on The Food Network. But so far, the only diner, drive-in, or dive worthy of their attention had been greasy little spoons where the best things on the menu were limp fried chicken, chicken fried steak, fried oatmeal, and greasy, tasteless french fries.

Really, everything just fell into the “dive” category.

She thought they would ramble through dusty towns, drink in artsy cities, and feel the wind in their hair. Then, they would write their book, a travel memoir. Two women on the open road from one end of America to the other. From sea to shining sea. Like Thelma and Louise, only without the dying part.

It was to be their Odyssey.

Then Madeline got food poisoning at some burger joint and had to fly home from Sheboygan. She was perfectly fine the next day, but she wussed out and caught the first flight she could get.

This trip had been Cat’s dream and she wasn’t giving it up because her best friend was a delicate flower, so she was now on her own.

As she turned down a local dirt road in Willowtail Falls, she wavered between pity for Madeline that her Epic Road Trip got ruined and irritation that she seemed to have allowed her own Epic Road Trip to be derailed simply because Madeline decided to order the pulled pork instead of the chicken sandwich. She wasn’t having the fun she was supposed to be having, and it pissed her off. Who would she take selfies with? Who would she share jokes about the things they saw with? Who would she compare hotels and restaurants with? For the thousandth time, she slapped the steering wheel.

“Goddammit,” she muttered, trying to feel some sympathy for Madeline.

She glanced at the dashboard clock. One twenty-three. No wonder her stomach was growling. She started scoping out the area for places to eat and soon came upon a clapboard shack, paint chipping all around, that displayed a handwritten sign. She slowed down so she could read it. It said “EAT.” To the side, a mangy dog tore at something that looked vaguely meat-ish.

She kept driving.

Very few animals or people braved the hot midday sun, so she had the road to herself for a while. Her stomach growled again. Just over the county line—the sign said “Beauford”—a little structure came into view. It looked like it had been someone’s house at one time before it was converted into an eatery, freshly painted lemon yellow and sherbet orange. Ruffled curtains decorated with embroidered pies hung in the red-trimmed windows, and a folksy welcome sign hung on the door.

It was adorable, and Madeline was going to be sorry she’d missed it.

Cat pulled into the front parking lot—or what she assumed was a lot, judging from the cars sitting there. She got out and took a few steps before remembering that she wanted to take pictures. Not that it mattered, since their planned travel memoir was a bust. Still, she thought she should record everything, so she pulled her phone out of her back pocket and clicked a few shots of the exterior of the unbelievably cute place. It even had a wraparound porch with a swing.

With her phone tucked back in her pocket, she climbed the steps. Some yelling greeted her from the windows. Sounded like an argument. Just as she turned her head toward the ruckus, something came flying out of nowhere and smacked her on the forehead. Fwaap!

She stumbled backward and somehow managed to land with her ass on the railing.

Stunned, her vision crossed for a moment, and then she pushed herself back up to a fully standing position.

“Oh, my God! Are you okay?” someone asked.

Cat blinked and looked in the direction of the voice. A slender woman with dark hair, wearing an apron, was running toward her. The Betty Page bangs on her forehead didn’t hide the worried knit of her brows. When she reached Cat, she grabbed her arms and tugged on her, presumably to help her up. Although Cat was already pretty much up, she allowed the woman to assist her. Why turn down an opportunity to be touched by a gorgeous woman?

“Oh, God, I’m so sorry,” the woman said. “Let me get that.” She pulled the towel tucked into her apron and wiped Cat’s forehead. Obviously, she was a waitress in the diner. Café? Luncheonette? Whatever it was.

“Are you hurt?”

“Um, no, not really.” Whatever it was that had hit her, it felt kind of soft and wet. “I was just taken by surprise and lost my balance. I’m okay, though,” Cat said, not really wanting the woman to remove her hands. Then she looked down. “What hit me, anyway?”

“A hamburger.”

Cat thought maybe the blow on the head, as soft as it had been, had affected her hearing. Maybe some of whatever the projectile was had gotten lodged in her ear. “Excuse me?”

“A hamburger.”

“A hamburger?” All Cat could do was gape as she processed this information. She couldn’t imagine what the circumstances were.

The woman smiled. “Why don’t you come in and I’ll get you some coffee. Or would you like some lunch?”

“Lunch, please.”

“You got it.” She began guiding Cat toward the entrance.

“Can I just ask, why was a hamburger flying around?”

The waitress paused with her hand on the front door handle. “Oh, well, there’s this guy, a local, and he’s such a sexist pig. Anyway, he says that women can’t play sports. I start giving him all sorts of examples of women athletes. He says that you don’t see women in baseball because women can’t throw worth a fuck. So I picked up a hamburger from the pick-up window and threw it at him. He happened to be sitting by a window and it…well, flew out.” She pulled the front door and held it open for Cat, and just as Cat passed her, she added, “Unfortunately, hamburgers are not very aerodynamic.”

Cat laughed. “I’ve never heard anyone say that before.” She followed her in. “But, uh, I guess that’s true.”

The waitress led her to a stool at the counter, then turned to her. “Well, maybe I can say some more stuff that will make you laugh. You have a really nice laugh.” She ran her thumb over Cat’s eyebrow, slowly, and wiped it on her apron. “Ketchup.” She went around behind the counter and put a menu in front of her.

What just happened here? Cat wondered as she sat on the stool. Did the waitress just make a pass at her? She decided that she was out of her mind and looked down at the menu. Wishful thinking.

But she was cute. Really cute. Her black hair was pulled back into a ponytail, but it hung down in curly waves. And her eyes seemed more starkly blue than any pair of eyes should be. She placed a cup of coffee in front of Cat.

“You look like a coffee woman. I’m Winnie, by the way.”

What an adorable name. Cuddly, sweet, always in search of honey. Furry?

Cat cleared her throat. “I’m Cat. Nice to meet you. I think.”

Winnie shot her a look, so Cat winked at her. “Just kidding.”

“Cat. As in…kitty?”

Cat could think of nothing to say.

“So, what would you like? Anything you want, on the house.”

“It’s really not necessary to give me free lunch. I was coming in here anyway.”

“Hey, I owe you that much. I clocked you with a meat patty. State law says I have to give you lunch.” Her eyes held so much more than an offer of a free meal. “And I am really sorry. I’m especially sorry that the burger was a deluxe, with ketchup, mayo, onions, and pickles. Most of that stuff actually landed on the asshole’s head, but you got the ketchup and mayo.” She formed her lips—her very pretty lips—into a pout. “So what’ll it be?”

As hard as it was to pull her eyes from Winnie, she looked down at the menu. “Um, anything but a burger, I guess.” She rubbed her forehead.

“Why don’t you crawl back into your man cave?”

Cat looked up. “What?”

Winnie jutted her chin toward the door. A sour-looking man in sweats and a baseball cap walked out without saying a word.

“That’s Elmer, the asshole the hamburger was meant for.” Then she laughed, and Cat really liked it.

“I guess I’ll have the Sojourner Café Special.”

Taking the menu from Cat’s hands, Winnie said, “One roasted chicken platter, coming right up.”

Watching Winnie walk away was just as nice as watching her walk forward. Cat couldn’t help but sneak a peek at her jeans-clad rear end, visible between the flaps of the apron. She hastily turned and looked around the place to distract herself from that. Fortunately, no one was watching her. She didn’t know this town and she wouldn’t want to create a scene for any homophobes that might be looking for trouble.

When Winnie returned, she set a diner-style glass of lemonade in front of her. “You could probably use this right about now, too.”

“Yeah. It’s pretty hot out there.”

“It’s pretty hot in here, too.”

With a sidelong look, Winnie moved down the counter to take another patron’s order, leaving Cat to wonder why that comment made her lightheaded and squirmy.

If she was reading this correctly—and it was very possible she wasn’t—Winnie was coming on to her. She reached for the coffee, then the lemonade, and found herself unable to decide. Cool down or wake up—which was more urgent? Her brain was locked on Winnie and apparently couldn’t function where anything else was concerned.

After taking several other customers’ orders, Winnie returned with Cat’s chicken platter and a very large plate of fries and a bowl of pickles.

“Wow,” Cat said, “that’s a lot of food. I don’t think I can eat all this.”

“Well, you can pack up the leftovers, if you want. Take it back to your—so…where exactly are you staying? I know you’re not from around here.”

“Oh, uh….” Cat picked up her fork, unsure of how to respond. She had an urge to lie and say she was from the next town. “Well, I’m not really staying here. I was just passing through.” She gave Winnie the quick rundown of the Cat-and-Madeline’s-awesome-adventure that became the Cat’s-just-so-so-adventure story.

Winnie busied herself by wiping the counter around Cat, even though it didn’t need it. “That’s really cool, that you even did it at all. And the fact that you continued on alone is even cooler.” She nodded toward a couple of men in worker uniforms who had just come in the door. To Cat, she said, “I’ll be back. Enjoy your chicken. Those pickles are homemade. House specialty. Everyone comes in for them.” Winnie went to the men, who had seated themselves in a booth.

Famished, Cat dove into her food, a fine-looking platter with chicken grilled to a golden brown. She cut a piece and smeared it with some gravy. When she put it in her mouth, she was amazed at how silky and buttery it was. The sautéed mushrooms that sat next to the chicken were tender and seemed to melt in her mouth. It all surprised her, that such a luscious dish could be found in a small-town roadside eatery. She looked down the length of the counter at Winnie, who was pouring coffee for a customer. She looked up at Cat and smiled.

Cat turned back to her plate, her chest fluttering. The fries were dark golden, but not burned, and there was a nice proportion of crispy, bitty ones to tender yet firm ones. The pickles were crisp and had just the right tartness, and she understood why they were so popular.

Winnie had served her well. Literally. And then her mind began wandering to other tender, well-done, juicy bits…

A well-timed bite of her inner cheek painfully stopped her daydreaming. She pressed her cheek in with two fingers until the pain eased up. That’s what I get. It didn’t pay to get too cocky. Flirting did not necessarily lead to the horizontal mambo. If she was flirting with her.

“How’s everything?” Winnie asked, appearing in front of her again.

“It’s great. Thank you. I really needed this. I didn’t need to bite my cheek, though.” She put her tongue in her cheek with a wince.

“Aw, you poor thing. I hope it won’t stop you from having some blueberry pie.”

“Oh, no. I—”

“You have to. We get our pies from the best pie lady around.”

“Pie lady? There’s a pie lady?”

“Of course.” Winnie laughed and it sent a shiver up Cat’s arms.

“Well, if there’s a pie lady, I can’t pass that up.” And that was the truth. It was part of what this whole trip was supposed to be about—tasting America.

“Good. I’ll wrap the rest of this up for you and get you some.”

“Like I said, I’m not staying here. And I don’t think this will hold up very well, even in my cooler.”

“Oh.” Winnie’s smile drooped. “I was hoping you’d change your mind.”

Cat regarded her a moment, and Winnie’s bottom lip disappeared under her teeth, but her eyes held hope.

Cat decided to be bold. “You’re making it very tempting,” she said in the most seductive voice she could muster.

Winnie’s lower lip reappeared and turned upward as she smiled. “I know a nice little bed-and-breakfast in town. You can go get some rest, and tonight I’ll pick you up and take you to this amazing barbecue joint in Lakeside, the next town over. It’s an out-of-the-way place the locals go to. No tourists. They have a live jazz band, it so happens, tonight. What do you say?”

Cat couldn’t believe her luck. She’d taken a chance and gone on after Madeline bailed, and her reward was a small town, a quaint diner, local food, great music, and, best of all, a beautiful woman willing to guide her through it all.

“Okay. I’d really like that,” she said.

Winnie smiled that sexy smile again, and Cat silently thanked Madeline for being a wet noodle.

And maybe she’d get to write that travel memoir after all, which she would owe to a flying hamburger. There had to be some selling power in that.

She smiled back at Winnie. She had a feeling that her real adventure started now.

The End

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