Posted by: Abe's Blog | May 22, 2010

Green Mountain Takedown, Part 2

This is the second posting in a series. Interested readers may follow this link to the first installment: Green Mountain Takedown, Part 1

The Green Mountain Cafe is famous for its 8-Pound Mountain Burger Challenge. A sign, yellowed with age and prolonged exposure to grease mist, still brightly proclaims “Eat it all and it’s free!” Under the sign, dozens of crooked Polaroid pictures portray the grinning, if slightly greenish faces of the brave few men who have successfully completed the challenge. A few of these photos include the happy families of the conquerors, the children cheering their brave fathers, the wives gritting their teeth and finding something interesting to look at away from the lense of the camera. The Green Mountain Cafe is also the de facto political center of Cranberry. The mayor, Jim Orley, can be found in his usual booth most mornings, drinking bottomless cups of black coffee, surrounded by his trusted advisors and sycophants. An out-of-towner, lost perhaps while searching for the fabled vineyards of the valley, will find that his entrance into the cafe will be instantly followed by the sound of deafening silence as all eyes turn towards him to search into his very soul.

This morning, when Shep and Aaron walked into the Green Mountain Cafe, the chatter and clank of breakfast devourement slackened only for an instant. The men at the mayor’s table acknowledged the new arrivals with the slight and practiced motions of casual manliness, coffee cups lifted slightly, heads nodded in barely perceptible movement, an index finger lifted one inch above the table. As Shep and Aaron slipped into the corner booth, “Bossy” Betty Slanders made her way towards them, dispensing shots of stinking coffee into waiting mugs. “Boys? You need menus?” She asked.
“Nah,” Shep said, “I’ll have the Spanish Omelet.”
“Biscuits and gravy,” Aaron poured sugar into his coffee.
“How’s your dad?” Betty scribbled on her pad.
“He’s doing better, thanks. Says he’s gonna start taking walks and stuff.”
“Tell him I said ‘Hi’.”

Betty patted Aaron’s arm and turned towards the kitchen. Shep took a swig of his coffee and coughed. “Stuff is terrible! Tastes worse every day.”
“Yeah,” Aaron answered, stirring his own with a spoon.
“You tried that drive-through coffee stand yet?”
“Nah. You?”
“Yeah. It ain’t bad. Yesterday I got a latte’.”

The front door squeaked open, admitting another regular who slid in beside Shep after swiping an empty coffee mug from a nearby table. “Hey,” he said.
“What’s up, Randy?” Shep said.
“Just chillin’ and billin’,” Randy replied, “Chillin’ and billin’.”
Aaron looked at Shep. “What’s a latte’?”
“It’s I-talian. It’s got espresso and steamed milk. Tastes pretty good, long as you don’t burn your taste buds off!”
“La dee dah,” Randy said with a sneer. “La dee dah.”

Betty arrived with a cloud of breakfast fragrance and a bottle of ketchup. “Randy? You know what you want?” She filled his cup as he told her, then spun away, trailing a cheerfulness that belied the grief in her heart. Her husband, “Big” Rick Slanders, had passed away only six months ago after suffering a cardiac arrest while cooking for the lunch rush. Cranberry residents had mourned the loss of the huge and cheerful man, but had opened their hearts and pocketbooks in their typical, quiet fashion. The mayor had organized a fund-raiser, with the proceeds going to help Betty pay off the creditors, allowing her to keep the doors of the Green Mountain Cafe open…at least for a while.

Once again, the front door squeaked open. The cafe went dead still for a full five seconds as Undercover Deputy Norbert Bartman stood bathed in the eye-wash of the regulars. He swung his head in awkward jerks before settling his gaze on Shep. Shep waved him over, “Hey James! Over here!” Norbert blinked at Shep, then, remembering his undercover name, walked forward to slide into the booth next to Aaron. Shep shook his hand, then gestured to his friend, “This here is Randy. That’s Aaron. Guys, meet James…uh, what did you say your last name was?”
“Strong,” Norbert said, shaking hands with Aaron, then Randy.
“Strong,” Randy said. “James Strong.”
“Yeah,” Norbert said, his voice squeaking suddenly.

Aaron turned to stare at him. Norbert tried to meet his stare, but couldn’t and glanced around the cafe. “What’s good here?” he asked.
Aaron stared at him some more. “Depends on how hungry you are.”
“Oh, I’m hungry. Real hungry.”
“Well, the biggest thing they got is the Mountain Burger, but there ain’t many guys can eat that.”
Norbert stroked his mustache. “How big?”
“It’s big,” Randy said, “It’s real, real big.”
“You eat it all, it’s free,” Shep said, watching Aaron.
“Don’t know if you could eat all that, though,” Aaron said, looking into his coffee cup.

  Betty waltzed up to the table, placing Randy’s order in front of him. She eyed Norbert. “Do you need a menu?”
“Nah,” he said, sitting up straight and raising his voice slightly, “I’ll have the Mountain Burger.”



  1. Fun — I love reading this… again, I’m not sure what to comment on except to say that I’m waiting for the next part so I can see if Norbet, uhem “James”, paid for the burger or got it for free!

    • Thank you, Nadia. Your thoughtful critique is well noted. Hee hee

  2. Sounds like a disaster in the making.

    More, please.

    • Heh heh. Thanks, Wolf! More is on the way.

  3. LOL!

    Oh – what I have been missing!

    I may become a regular Mr. Abe.

    (Large ‘double/double’ for me if you are doing the ordering please?)

    I can’t wait to see if Mr. Strong is up to the challenge…


    • Oh, thank you so much. I hope to see you around. I think we’ll find out together, as this story seems to take it’s own turns 🙂

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