The Food Truck
On a sunny fall day in a small town, a new food truck was about to open. The truck was run by a couple, a man and a woman, who had just moved from the city. “Delicious sandwiches with a twist” was the tag line of their tiny restaurant on wheels.
At the noon hour, the truck window slid open, and two faces emerged out of the shadowy interior. A few people approached. A woman with a little girl hanging off her arm were the first in line. The mother squinted at the chalkboard menu.
“I’ll have a turkey and provolone sandwich for myself, and for the little one, a peanut butter sandwich, no jelly, no crust.”
“That’s how our son likes them, too,” said the woman in the truck, winking at the child.
A man with a pale face and wearing denim was next.
“Good day. I would like a veggie sandwich with extra avocado and brown mustard, please,” he said, exuding politeness.
“Coming right up!” said the woman.
Two teenage girls with matching haircuts stepped up to the counter.
“We’ll both have ham and cheddar with bean sprouts on the same ticket,” they said, almost in unison.
Next in line was a man with a bald head, who was scratching his puffy chin. He leaned into the open window.
“I’ll have a surprise. I’m pretty easy to please,” he said to the couple.
When the orders came out, everyone sat on the nearby park benches to eat. At first, they chewed their food in silence, disregarding one another as strangers do. But after a few bites, their eyes lit up and they began gobbling their sandwiches, shoving them into their mouths like cartoon characters. The bald man was still working on his last bite when he walked up to the food truck, sliding crumbs off his belly.
“That was delicious! So what’s the “twist”?”
The couple glanced at each other with coy smiles.
The man chuckled. “No, really.”
The woman in the truck crouched down, out of sight. When she stood back up she was holding a pug, all wrinkles and pudge. A slender pink tongue hung out the side of its mouth; a thick string of saliva dripped from it like an icicle. With her free hand, the woman filled a dixie cup with the drool.
“Here, try it.”
The man took the cup, grimacing a little, and tipped it back in his mouth. His eyes popped open.
“Well I’ll be damned!”
Having overheard the conversation, the others gathered around the truck, curious. When the mother saw the dog in the truck she clapped her hand over her mouth; her child squealed. The man wearing denim reached his hand through the window to pet the pooch on the head. He loved pugs.
“This is Orville,” the truck woman said proudly, as if the dog was a golden egg.
“Now wait just a second,” said one of the teenagers. “What happens if he stops drooling?”
“That would be impossible. Orville drools 24/7.”
The dog stared into blank space, eyes bulging. His mouth was frothy. It didn’t look like he was going to let up anytime soon. The truck man moved quickly, filling dixie cups and passing them around the group. Everyone sipped the contents, savoring it as if it was hot chocolate.
Teen number two wrinkled her nose.
“Well, I don’t like how he smells.”
“He’s no worse than you are,” said teen number one. They turned to each other and began to bicker back and forth.
The mother was allowing her child to touch Orville now, who was quickly winning her over with his cute snorting and wheezy breathing. She licked her lips, still tasting the magic saliva.
“What else can Orville do?” she asked.
“Yeah, does his shit taste good too?!” said the bald man, slapping his thigh.
The food truck woman promptly turned Orville over on his back. On his belly was an obscure round symbol, about three inches wide.
“He’s had it since he was born. Anyone who rubs his belly gets one wish granted.”
“Oh no. I didn’t think it was real at first, and I wasted my wish on a pizza delivered to my door, free of charge.” She rolled her eyes, and the truck man laughed.
“I was the delivery man,” he said, pulling her toward him and kissing her cheek.
The teenagers sighed, having ended their bickering, and put their hands over their hearts. The denim man bounced from foot to foot.
“What was your wish?” he asked the truck man.
The truck man sighed. “A brand new Corvette. It broke down within a year. I got to trade it for this truck though,” he said, patting the counter top.
“It seems like both your wishes, while they didn’t go as intended, turned out to lead you to something even greater,” the denim man said, clasping his hands. Orville flicked his tongue, and for a second, it looked like he was smiling.
“That’s very astute, my man,” said the bald man. “I want to see this for myself. May I?” He held out his arms to Orville.
The truck woman passed Orville through the window. The bald man rubbed the symbol, and then stood still, waiting. The others were quiet, waiting too. Suddenly, little hairs began to sprout upon the man’s head, forming a widow’s peak, and then spreading across his entire scalp until he had a thick forest of dark hair. Everyone clapped for him.
“This is nuts!” said the formerly bald man, running his fingers through his fresh hair.
“What about reading the future? Time travel? Can Orville do those things?”asked the mother.
“No, we’ve tested that already.”
“Can he shape-shift?” asked teen number one. Teen number two scoffed.
“As a matter of fact…” The truck woman squeezed a roll of chub on Orville’s neck, and there was a flash and a bang. Orville had disappeared, and there was a little boy in her arms instead. He yawned and stuck a finger in his nose, seemingly unaffected by the presence of the group.
“Everyone, meet our son, Otis!”
Everyone oohed and awed. The little girl broke out in tears. She had never seen anything shape shift before and was confused. Her mother began to rock and shush her.
“Oops, didn’t mean to scare you!” said the truck man. He gave the boy a hug and then gently squeezed the back of his neck. There was another flash and bang; the boy was gone and Orville was back. The girl stopped crying.
“Wow. I don’t know what to say,” said the formerly bald man. He grinned at Orville, whose tongue still flopped out his slobbery mouth.
“I believe we’ve been witness to a real miracle today,” said the denim man, holding his palms face up to the sky.
“I’ll say!” said the mother.
“No one’s gonna believe us,” said the teenagers.
“Just tell them to come get a sandwich,” said the couple, petting Orville on his back.
Just then, a bus came rolling down the road. It stopped about 50 feet away, and twenty or so people stepped off it. About half of them headed toward the food truck at a hungry pace.
The truck woman saw the people coming and quickly set Orville down. She looked at the group and put a finger to her lips. Everyone smiled and nodded. One by one, each person said goodbye to the couple, making their promises to come back again. They left together, talking among themselves like old friends, until eventually, they had to go their separate ways.
The formerly bald man was down the block when he turned around to check the scene at the truck. He could see customers lined up, and the couple taking their orders, as normally as if it was any other food truck. He shook his head, felt the breeze blow through his hair, and laughed to himself. He kept walking, and some time later, he thought he heard a dog bark.