Posted in Deli, writing

The Haunted Deep Fryer

A Very Greasy Halloween Special

A beep sounded from the back of the deli, the timer had hit zero and started automatically hoisting the basket out of the bubbling oil.

“Boneless wings are up, Scott.” Mike yelled from the front, while fishing out an eight-piece meal for a customer. The drumsticks were stuck to the grate at the bottom of the tray as always.

Scott grabbed the fryer basket and turned the crispy oily chicken bits into a big bowl, and then pulled out the bag of sauce. General Tsao- no, General Tso, or just ‘General’s’. It didn’t matter, everyone just called with ‘spicy asian.’ Cultural appropriation at its best.

It’s hard to get each piece of chicken covered with the sauce. If you have time, you can make sure they’re perfect, but nobody had time in this place. Scott picked up the bowl by its least sicky edge and tossed it. A few pieces immediately flew out onto the ground.

A glint of something in the chicken caught Scott’s eye. Pulling out the tongs, he fished through until he found it… an eyeball. “Mike, come check this out.”

Mike paused his flaunting attitude for the moment. “Okay, I’ll be right back with your spicy asian wings, ma’am” He went around to the corner behind where the customers could see. Scott was there waiting for him, glistening eyeball sitting between the ends the tongs.

“What the heck… it’s not mine, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Mike made eye contact with Scott, just one to be precise, as the other one stayed fixed in its glassy gaze. In all truthfulness, it was indeed glass; he had lost the real one in an accident as a child. Don’t make mention of 3-D films or “Keeping an eye on it” to him.”

Scott squeezed it slightly. It gave, just a bit, like a bouncy ball. A tiny bit of sauce dripped off it into the wings. “What do we do with this chicken? I mean, it came out of the fryer with it mixed in.” Scott responded.

“I can’t give this batch of chicken to customers. What if there’s another… I don’t know how something like that can show up just randomly in a fryer. That isn’t even a chicken eye.” Mike grabbed the eye from the tongs, then promptly yelped and dropped it. It was still hot. It rolled beneath the fryer.

A loud “excuse me” came from the now upset customer in the front. Mike bent down to look under the fryer, a space where few had ventured. The greasy passage contained a few old JoJo potatoes, possibly some spider webs that wicked up oil, but no sight of the solitary peeper. Mike stood up, and turned to Scott.

“Let’s not talk about this again.” Mike said in a very serious tone. “Get that lady her wings.” He motioned Scott to go up front, still holding the bowl. He once again gave a sideways look at the bottom of the fryer.

Later, the lunch rush was finally over. Mike wrapped up the last sandwich and handed it off to the customer, ready to get away from the sandwich bar. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mr Fresh Fry. No matter how recently fried chicken had come out, he wanted some that was even more freshly fried. As he stood there, waiting by the cheese island with his arms crossed, Mike wondered how close the chicken was to coming out of the fryer.

The sound of a scream echoed through the back of the Deli. It was the hispanic lady. She had been working there for a long time. Nobody knew how long, but she definitely had señoraty.

Alongside the sound of her scream was a loud commotion in the back as well. Like a squawking, flapping. Customers were peering over the counter to try and get a glimpse of what was going on.

Mike jogged to the back. Whatever was causing a commotion had stopped. Abuela and Scott were standing in front of the fryer though, in shock. As he approached, he noticed a few feathers on the ground. The fryer basket had been pulled up manually; the timer flashed on the front of the case. Inside of it, all alone, was a whole chicken, intact like it had never seen the freezer, let alone a butcher.

Abuela looked up at Mike. “I put in 8 piece, mixed. Two breasts, thighs, wings, drumstick.” her face was pale.

Mike grabbed the handle of the fry basket and lifted it out. Finding an empty grease bucket, he dumped the incinerated body into it, whole, and covered it with the lid. A few feathers clung to the basket grate. “Grab the spare basket.” He motioned to Scott and Abuela, then went out front to explain to the inevitably upset customers that their chicken would be just a little bit…

The day passed silently, dull. The hot case was slowing down, but people would still be around in a bit for an after school snack, even dinner. First up, more potato wedges. Mike grabbed the big bag and tore the corner of it open. Turning it over above the fryer, he watched the individual overly seasoned potato sections drop into the basket. Stray ice crystals popped as they instantly evaporated in the heat. His eyes followed the falling spuds, making sure just for one last time that nothing strange was in the mix.

He went to drop the basket and set the oil. As it started to descend, his cuff brushed against the grate of the basket. He felt his arm starting to be pulled down with it. His button was stuck in the grate; and this was his overpriced company shirt.

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