“Yeah, dumb ass. I’m a vegan for life.”
The humidity seeped through the cracks of the entrance making the already steamy diner feel even more sauna like. There were only a handful of patrons left from the mad lunch rush, and they didn’t mind the heat. Lunch at this small town diner has been a daily tradition for most people in the town since it opened nearly 50 years ago.
Not many things have changed at Big Shorts’ Diner—and that includes the customers. Nearly every diner who eats here is old. And while a few young stragglers will wander in from time to time to escape the summer heat—an always failed attempt—they never come back.
Today was one of those rare days where young people would enter the outdated establishment. It was unusually hot outside and the diner held onto an unpleasant odor—much like sour meat. A young man and woman—no older than their early 20s—entered through the door with a chipper little ding of the bell.
The two made their way up to the counter and stared at the faded black and white print menu behind the register. Gus Short—the owner and cook who took over for his father 23 years ago—stared at them with vacant eyes as he waited for the complaints to start. This wasn’t his first time dealing with people like this—a young couple who’ve decided to take a break from the big city and enjoy “small town” life for a few weeks.
“Do you have tofu dogs?” The young woman rubbed her elbow to draw attention to a small ‘Vegan For Life’ tattoo. “You should always have a vegetable alternative for people who don’t eat innocent animals.”
“Sorry honey. We only have normal burgers and dogs.” Gus took a deep breath in—lamenting what was about to come.
A fire sparked in the girl’s hazel eyes as she squeezed her boyfriend’s arm. “Normal? You think it’s normal to murder innocent animals and eat their flesh?” She released her boyfriend’s arm as he took a step back—his eyes remained fixed to the ground. “And another thing. I’m not your ‘honey’. This isn’t the 50s anymore old man. You need to learn to respect woman and stop using murdered animals for your own personal gain!”
Gus didn’t say a word. All he did was point to her tattoo and shake his head.
Confused, the girl continued with great fury. “What? Yeah, dumb ass. I’m a vegan for life. That means I made a vow to live the right way. Unlike you backwoods hillbillies.”
“If you aren’t going to order, can you please just leave? There’s a place that serves vegetarian food down the street,” Gus said.
“Do I look like a fucking vegetarian?” The girl leaned over the counter, her round stomach pressing hard against the side of the register. “I’m going to write a blog post about you and have this dump shut down for discrimination.”
Gus just pointed at her tattoo again.
“Why do you keep pointing at my fucking tattoo? I’m vegan and damn proud of it.” Her thick jowls bobbled up and down with each word. “Sorry I don’t use products made from dead animals like you awful people!”
Gus pointed at her tattoo once more—further infuriating the girl. “Your tattoo. You do know what it’s made out of, right?”
“Yeah, fucking ink!”
Gus smirked. “Not quite. The ink is made from animal bones and fat.”
“Fuck you!” The girl grabbed her boyfriend’s thin wrist and stomped out the door.
“I guess she doesn’t like hot dogs.” Gus and the remaining patrons all laughed at the ridiculousness of the situations. Something that has become a common occurrence on these hot summer days.
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