I am sorry not to have taken notice of it 'til now. You see, Dorrie, Raphael and I have been challenged by a newcomer--a business hastily constructed to "steal our thunder!"
The "upside" of capitalism is that a fellow with a dream has the right to pursue it, to whatever ends may result. The "bad side" is that claptrap concerns can appear to usurp the hard work one has endowed his or her business venture with.
In our case, a threat looms on the horizon, across the street: "Ngo's Snak-Shak." It appeared, literally overnight, two weeks ago. It is operated by a Cambodian family, who rented a studio apartment in the nearby "Butte Vista Court."
A vacant lot, left abandoned after a faulty house foundation was built in 1979, was suddenly cleared of its decades of bramble. In the night, sounds of sawing and hammering could be heard.
At first, I thought it perhaps another fantasia of Mister Spinkle--perhaps he was building some alleged "time portal," or another crude device to enable his delusions. A quick check showed "Sparks" asleep, a vintage issue of Hit Comics spread-eagled on his torso.
I opened the front door and peered into the night. The lot is diagonal to ours, two or three houses down the street. I squinted and saw movement, light, and chitter-chatter of Asian dialect. Large tarpaulins had been hung, to obscure these mysterious efforts.
I thought to call the police--and then feared for my own safety. What if it should be discovered that my home harbors a vigilante? I, of all people, am in no position to call upon the law. I am, myself, a criminal, I fear.
I mustn't divert from the events. There is so much to say that I feel dizzy.
The next morning, a vulgar plywood shack, painted harsh hues of orange, pink and yellow, could be seen. Smoke billowed from a crude tin chimney. A portable sign-on-wheels straddled this hellish construction. Its poorly spaced letters read:
B ESTL UNCH FOR Y OU
NGO SSNAK-SHA K
NGO SSNAK-SHA K
Over my second cup of coffee, I chortled at the sight. Who, in their right mind, would patronize such a dubious venture? I felt it not worthy of mention to Dorrie. The first good spring rainfall would wash away this shoddy affair.
O, friends, I was wrong! This despicable "shak" has seriously thwarted our cozy little concern. They offer great steaming heaps of heaven-knows-what, mingled with curious spices and served on thin paper plates. Another, hand-lettered, sign, makes this announcement:
ALL YOU EAT
$5 FIVE DOLLAR
$5 FIVE DOLLAR
We have struggled to keep our prices low, but due to cost of supplies, it is not possible for our Diner to offer a lunch priced lower than $6.50. For that price, we, too, offer a heaping portion of food. Please note that it is served on good china, with decent silverware and a cloth napkin. We do not traffic in runny swill on "Chinette" plates, nor ineffectual plastic utensils!
One would think that anyone, of their right mind, would shun such a suspect establishment like the dreaded "HINI" flu! Yet witness this astounding lapse of good judgment, on the part of our own "fifth estate:"
I am shocked to recall the courtesy we afforded Ms. Kruger on her visit to our bistro. To think she should so quickly "change horses in a stream!" But the minds of critics are often fickle. They are rather like toddlers--drawn to the first bright color they see, and to the first noise that captures their fleeting attention.
This accursed "shak" has seriously impacted the Diner's business. It galls me to see the hapless souls "beating their feat" towards this dubious construction, and I know it breaks Dorrie's heart each time one of our former customers is seen consuming filet-of-cat, or whatever these interlopers consider food.
We do have our faithful regulars, God bless them all. We now reward them with larger portions and free desserts. They, in turn, have vowed to spread the gospel of Dorrie's kitchen magic near and far.
I asked Raphael to take a reconnaissance mission to the "Shak," to see what he could find out about its proprietors. The poor, brave soul returned an hour later with a bloody nose. "Ellos me golpeo, repetidamente," he sighed. Apparently, the owner's teenage thugs sussed dear Raphael out as an interloper and battered him.
I took the initiative to hire one of those marquees-on-wheels yesterday. I selected the flashiest, biggest and brightest model available at Rent-It-2Day!
Our sign boasts tri-colored neon piping (which makes a terrible hum that interferes with our cable TV reception), pulsing electric lights and music! It constantly plays a computerized version of Scott Joplin's "Mr. Entertainer." This digitized ditty is impossible to sleep through. There is no evident OFF switch, so at night, before retiring, I must disconnect the thick orange power cord from its source.
Our sign also outdoes Ngo's with its verbiage. To wit:
!A CIVILIZED BISTRO!
!A CIVILIZED BISTRO!
I trust this message will suffice. What more need be said? Reader, what would you prefer: a cozy dining experience, featuring rib-sticking, heart-warming meals, served with grace and comfort--or the remains of house pets, heaped on a cheap disc of paper by an unknown race?
I know what some of you are thinking: this is a job for "Super-Senior!" I want it stated, publicly, that I do not endorse hooliganism, self-enforced justice, or unlawfulness in any way, shape or means. Wallace, you are NOT to vandalize the Cambodians!
To make matters worse, my accursed foot has been acting up again. I'm afraid I have lapsed from my "microboitic" diet. It is difficult to eat straw and rocks when the divine cuisine of my spouse is within easy reach, in copious amounts. I shall clearly have to balance my intake. I do not wish to suffer the agony and embarrassment of "the gout" again.
You will forgive the lack of the panelological presentation today. As "Sparks" saw fit to include two stories of imagination and wonder in his rogue post, I shall consider this a sufficient rebuttal, and, for the nonce, rest my weary case.