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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Billboard/Poster/Sign (any or all) (12/02/10)

TITLE: Eat at Josephine's
By Troy Manning


The likeness rendered on the post office poster was much too close for Kora’s comfort. Whether it was merely his imagination or not, several of the customers appeared to be regarding him with recognition so he opted not to tarry.

He was hardly surprised that his car’s color, make, and model were described by the warning alert sign that hung above the highway on his way home. He took the nearest off-ramp and selected an alternative route.

Not typically superstitious, Kora decided to take the advice given by a sign reading, “Eat at Josephine’s,” that was being played like a two-dimensional guitar by a boy with mirrored sunglasses.

Kora suspected there was an unseen cook in the kitchen of what otherwise appeared to be a one-woman establishment. Just as he’d predicted while she approached him with a menu to seat him, her nametag read simply, “Josephine.”

As there were presently no other patrons, Josephine gave Kora more attention than that to which he was accustomed. Though he lied when she asked him if he lived in the area, he did disclose that he was on the lam for several felony charges. Josephine nodded knowingly and confided that she had his poster on her wall at home.

After loading her necessities into his car, they left Josephine’s home aimed toward Mexico. There they searched for and found a quaint village whose southern charm was nearly irresistible. Rodrigo, the leading bandito, furnished them both with a sombrero and poncho. To Josephine, he also gave a false mustachio.

Life in the town of A Gadda Da Vida Bebe began to slowly but surely lose its appeal for Kora. When he wasn’t busy vying for Josephine’s affections with Rodrigo, he was fending off roustabouts and rugrats from raiding their necessities. He tried to persuade Josephine to return with him to the States, but she was unwilling. Kora was immediately arrested upon his attempt at re-entry.

Josephine eventually found Rodrigo to be an unpleasant companion. She decided to leave him the next time he inserted the Tequila worm in her mouth when they kissed. On Cinco de Mayo, 2003, that day arrived. After Rodrigo had slipped into a semi-comatose sleep, Josephine saddled a mule painted with black-and-white stripes and started her trek northward.

Some thirty years later, Kora hitched a lift to Josephine’s Diner. He was appreciative of Josephine’s frequent visits during his incarceration, as well as for her offer to employ him as a cook upon his release. She told him she had gotten involved with a small church and several of its members helped her buy her restaurant back after her having abandoned it the way she did. Many of its proceeds were now designated to organizations providing assistance to individuals wanting to reform their ways of life. Most of its employees were, themselves, presently undergoing rehabilitation.

Though Kora had seen many changes over the years he spent in the tank, perhaps nowhere was the passage of time more evident than at Josephine’s. What surprised him most wasn’t necessarily its thriving business, its digitized gadgetry that practically ran the place, or even its sign-twirling robot out front. It wasn’t even so much that the person assigned to train him was none other than Rodrigo. While these things were intriguing enough in themselves, for Kora, the real kicker about Josephine’s was its menu of organic foods, featuring apple smoothies with or without the worm.

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This article has been read 442 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/09/10
You packed a lot of story into only 750 words. The characters were quite unique and the descriptions a delight.
Sunny Loomis 12/14/10
Interesting story with an unusual story line. Liked the name of the town. Thank you.
Lollie Hofer12/15/10
You have a lot going on in this fast-paced story. Interesting characters, for sure.