Everyone does it these days, the weekend brunch thing. Stay up late Friday night, go out for pancakes and mimosas when the sun is almost half way across the sky.
People had been coming to Peety Pops Breakfast spot for about the past five years. Peety Pop started out small and had grown its brand to become a successful contender in the Portland brunch scene. Their menu was impeccable and the interior inviting. It is frequently praised in the Mercury for its food and atmosphere. Its facade is white and teal and their sign has a super cute little retro painting of a birdie on it. Despite the fact no one seemed to really know who owned it, Peety Pops was the town darling.
Which was probably why no one noticed anything was wrong. At least not at first.
The restaurant opens at 9, the staff has been there since 7:30. There are several people waiting outside the door before it’s unlocked by a server. By 10:37 every table in the place is seated and the first orders are being finished. At 10:39 the front door deadbolts itself.
No one is interested in egress however, not with these dope ass two dollar mimosas flowing forth. The guests are averaging about one pint every 30 minutes. A plate of biscuits and gravy is set in front of a thin blond man with a virgin of Guadalupe tattooed on his neck and he eats demurely with fork and knife for a bit before casting aside the knife and picking up a second fork, alternating, left, right, left, right.
“Jim, Jim, are the biscuits good?” Asks the woman across from him at the four top he’s seated at.
Jim doesn’t answer, but nods vaguely and continues eating as a bead of sweat trickles down his forehead.
His dining companions debate over their choices for a while, shooing away the server several times and slurping chunks from Peety Pops new Bloody Mary drink, called the Bloody Hell, a daring new cocktail consisting of raw steak bits shaken with three shots of lighter fluid, poured over chilled asphalt, garnished with two olives.
At a booth, six twentysomething women are brunching off their bachelorette party hangover. A heavy set brunette receives her egg white tofu scramble along with the greyhound she ordered served in a pickle tub. They aren’t sure how long they’ve been there but the bride is on her second plate of bacon waffles. She would suggest they leave, as this place is clearly overrated but she can’t stop pushing large pieces of waffle into her mouth. She signals a server, which may not even be her tables server but they are all beginning to look very similar. She gestures for another order. Fat tears start to roll down her cheeks and for all the world she wishes she was home with her fiance.
Meanwhile Jim has drowned, face down in his gravy, A fork fisted in each hand. His remaining three companions have finally decided on their food. Tina opts for Hannibal’s Breakfast Castle, Jon and Grace decide to split the Eggs Erryway Trough.
Servers jerk hollow eyed around tables as they carry platters of increasingly terrifying sizes. The line cooks sweat and tremble over saute stations. A visibly upset dishwasher leaps over the stainless steel dish pit and breaks for the back service door. He yanks it open and with a fading scream goes spinning off into a black, interminable void. The door slams shut again and the doorknob sinks into the painted metal with a moist, fleshy Ftthrp
It might be 2:30 in the afternoon or next Tuesday for all anyone knows when the guests at table 8 build a sort of idol from gnawed fried chicken, pancakes and hash browns. Its form is a mockery of gods creation, its eyes are triple and made from eggs over medium. The people at table 8 howl madly, beseeching hands held out to their profane new god before they tear at their faces or fornicate with each other on a pile of used table napkins.
Over near the window Peter is having a nice time with his wife. She is dead already, the poor weak lamb. Blood gushes out from under the pancake that’s been draped over her face like a funeral shroud. He thinks this is the happiest he’s been since their children were born. Just a nice quiet brunch with the wife. Just…so blissfully quiet… for the first time in ten years.
A crash of pans resounds from the kitchen. A bleeding cook comes tearing out of the back into the dining area and runs at full speed into the full length front window. The window doesn’t break but the cooks neck does. A sallow middle aged woman, seated closest to the mans crumpled form, pauses her lascivious deepthroating of a fist full of sausage and shouts, “DELIGHTFUL! MY COMPLIMENTS TO THE CHEF!!”
The acolytes of Table eights breakfast god have become embroiled with an opposing sect, Table tens Devotees of the Holy Mother of Fruit Salads. The clash between healthy options and fatty ones is brutal. The Saladeers beat the Bacon Popes about their heads and necks with ceramic plates, eyes vacant with a natural sucrose high. The casualties on both sides are heavy.
The pitched battle is ignored by the other diners, who are having their own issues with stroke, Mimosa induced liver failure or the sudden ability to see through time to a nightmare future where seven breasted crab people will walk the earth.
Back in the kitchen the remaining two cooks are on fire, but they continue on, making omelettes the size of cats or pressing waffle after waffle.
The temperature in Peety Pops is excruciating but the brunch continues on at a feverish pace. Even the diners with the terrible flatware wounds all over their necks have their heads thrown back in ecstasy, gulping down strips of undercooked bacon, their glassy eyes peer into the coming days of the crab people and their spiny, chitinous empires.
A mass of multiple limbs, mouths and flesh dressed in a sparkly pink sash that says “1# Bachelorette” stretched across its girth drags itself into the kitchen, past the blackened enflamed cooks and begins to guzzle down pitchers of Hollandaise sauce. If the congealed wad of bridesmaids had ears in it’s bulk it would wonder if the sound coming from the cooks was wailing or just squealing, popping human fat. Small mercy, one supposes, that this newly joined together form was mostly just hungry mouths and reaching hands.
One guest,Timothy, sat in the middle of the floor of the restaurant with a small room made from pilfered toast built around him, and peered fearfully out through a chink in his wall of wheat and rye at the carnage. He had not ordered, had not eaten.
“Im safe in here.” He whispers. “I’ll be safe in here forever…”
Convinced of this, Timothy was slowly starving to death.
And the brunch went on and on and on.
But everything ends. Even terror, even horror. The weeks marched on and then months. Eventually the missing posters for the erstwhile brunchers rotted off the telephone poles they were stapled to and their families abandoned hope.
Over time the blood that covered the floor and walls of Peety Pops soaked into the foundation of the building. On the day the last stain disappeared the building seemed to heave a satisfied sigh from deep within its wood work. Not that many people noticed of course, and the few that did thought it was the wind.
The paint peeled and the building sat empty. Kids stole the cute birdie sign in about mid March. Businesses come and go in this part of town so it didn’t take long for people in the neighborhood to stop saying, “Hey, remember Peety Pops? Goddamn they could make a good Eggs Benedict.”
One year the building sat vacant, and then a nondescript black van pulled up in front of what used to be Peety Pops. A faceless man in black coveralls emerged from the van and popped the side door. He rummaged for a moment and produced a hammer and large board, of which he tucked under one arm.
The faceless man quickly nailed a the board across the faded door frame and hopped back into the van, which backed up, burst into a controlled gout of flame and then crumbled to ash in front of the abandoned Peety Pops. Oddly enough no one really saw that happen either and that was a pretty distinctive event.
The next day people jogging down the street, heading to work at a cafes or pushing strollers read the sign and gossiped about how much they were looking forward to sessions at Madam Varanasis Hot Yoga Studio, opening August, 2014.