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  • Writer's pictureJeff Bacon

Mirror Mirror

The restaurant was dark and grim. It went well beyond a greasy spoon. My entire meal had been a disaster. The owner came out and sat at my table. “I apologize, sir. Now and then, things just don’t work out, but I have a way to make it up to you. Come with me.”

The owner led me to a hallway between the kitchen and storage room. He removed a towel from an old mirror. “Look in the mirror. Stare at its beauty. When it stares back, it will grant you retribution.”

I took a deep breath and looked in the mirror. I saw something swirl in the background. I concentrated on the movement, then a skull appeared. Its fiery eyes stared at me, then it nodded. I felt a tug at my shoulder as the owner pulled me back.

“Don’t stare too long in the mirror. You can waste your life looking for more, but you will get what you need.”

The owner escorted me out the door and into the alley. A crappy meal with a strange ending. What a day. I walked a few blocks and ran into a man who had just been mugged.

I bent over to look at his face. “Sir, are you alright?” The man reached up for my hand. I helped him up. “Can I take you somewhere?”

The man bent over and picked up his wallet. “It was just some kids. They knocked me down. Ha, they didn’t even get my money.” The man pulled out ten one hundred-dollar bills. “This is for helping an old man.”

A limo pulled up, and the chauffer stepped out. “Sir, are you OK? I knew this would happen.”

We both helped the old man into the car. He thanked me again, then they left.

I continued to walk to my car when I realized it must have been the will of the mirror. The mirror arranged the whole thing for the rotten meal. I made it home, but could not go to sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about the mirror.

I watched the sunrise. I decided there was no better place to go get breakfast than that dive I went to last night. I threw my bag in the car and went downtown. I parked my car in the ramp. I jumped out, excited at the thought of having another mediocre meal at that horrid joint. I almost couldn’t contain myself as I ran down the sidewalk towards the smell of rotten food.

I walked in and sat myself at the same table I had last night. I ordered an omelet, bacon, and coffee. The food came promptly. I took my first bite. It was amazing. I had to control my facial expressions because if the owner thought I was happy with the meal, I would not get a second trip to the mirror. I ate exactly half of everything on the plate. Even though it was the best food I had in years, I had to control myself. I had impressed myself with my acting abilities. I played the role of disgusted customer perfectly.

The owner sat down at my table. “What are you doing, sir?”

I sat back in my chair. “Well, I thought I would give this establishment a second chance. The food was rotten again.”

The owner sat back in his chair. “Let me guess. You want to see the mirror again?”

I smiled. “It only seems right.”

The owner leaned back towards me. “I will let this be your choice. My advice, finish your meal, leave a tip and move on with your life. Forget about the mirror.”

I needed to see that mirror again. “I would like to see the mirror. It’s what I deserve.”

The owner shook his head and lead me down the hallway. He took the towel off the mirror and I stared into it. This time, flames swirled around the mirror until the skull showed up. The skull opened its mouth and howled as the mirror went dark.

The owner threw the towel over the mirror, then grabbed my arm. “I’m sorry.”

I looked at him and smiled. “Hey, it’s just business. Your food is just not good. Thanks anyway.”

I skipped out of the restaurant and down the alley. I was looking for my next good fortune to pop up. The crossing light was red at the intersection. I had stopped right at the edge. I felt a push from behind that threw me into the street. I looked up as the grill of a city bus drove over top of my body.

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