"Are you the meat bringer?"
The 20ish blonde woman sat our drinks down and let loose a polite laugh. "Your food should be out shortly. The kitchen just had a bit of confusion about your order. It shouldn't be long." She walked away, blondely. I turned to my wife, Emily, and shot her a puzzled look.
"They're called 'servers,'" my wife whispered when she was out of earshot. "And if you hadn't ordered steak and replaced all of your sides with 'also steak,' the food would have been here by now. Why do you have to make everything difficult?"
There was some logic hidden in there if I were to dig deep enough, but something still didn't feel quite right about this whole situation. It was our first Valentine's Day as a married couple, and Emily's defense of our meat bringer just wasn't sitting well with me. Scanning the dining room, I spotted the kitchen, normally hidden behind two doors -- but in this case, they had made their peepholes way too big, so I could see right through. Christ, they must have been 2 feet in diameter. Dumb move, door designer.
Inside was a flurry of white-hatted meat cookers, frantically increasing the temperature of cow chunks and speaking in a strange language that must have been some sort of code. I know this because even though I couldn't hear them, I am an expert lip reader, and I clearly saw one of them mouth the words "Fluffy Jeff pickles wash monkey ferns. Trash monster." It wasn't the first time I had heard this code. I knew it meant "John Cheese is out there. Season his food with murder poison."
I had to do something about this. Past restaurant visits have taught me that I am immune to murder poison, but it does taste horrible -- almost exactly like too much black pepper. My eyes narrowed as I noticed our meat bringer speaking with the head assassin.
"Oh, no. No, we're not doing this, John," said Emily, breaking my concentration. "I know that look. Nobody is putting 'murder poison' in your food. You need to calm down and-"
"That's easy for you to say, woman! You don't have meat bringers murder poisoning your cow chunks! Bring the car around. This ends right now."
I got up as Emily stood and pleaded something about "don't" and "medication." But I knew that wouldn't work at all. Stealing the assassins' medication would take far too long to destroy them. This required immediate attention. I removed my visibility pants to turn invisible and slipped behind a plant.
"You cannot see me. I am a hide-person."
Inch by inch, I crept my way across the dining room, ducking behind chairs and walking on my tiptoes so as not to make a sound. As long as I maintained this erection, it meant my invisibility was still working. So far, so good. In fact, I was about as invisible as I had ever been in my life.
No, you can't get distracted by it. Keep moving.
Half a minute later, I broke my distraction and eased up behind an old couple quietly eating their dinner. A quick glance back at our table made me breathe a sigh of relief, as my wife was not there.
Good. She must be bringing the car around. Now just make your way to the-
"Oh my God!"
I whipped around to find the old couple staring directly up at me in complete shock. Wait, I thought, how are they seeing me? Looking down at my crotch, I knew I was still invisible. In fact, I was even more invisible than I was earlier. It must have been my cologne that gave me away. Thinking quickly, I jammed my hand into the old man's plate, my boner whipping a mere inches from his chin (it made a "whoosh" sound), and grabbed a handful of his potatoes and gravy and grimaced in pain as the food's heat scalded my skin. It was the only way I could mask my smell and blend in with the odors of the restaurant. Frantically, I smeared it all over my face and neck. I made a mental note to throw away everything in my house that had a smell, lest I sabotage my future survival.
Sorry, soap, but you've put my life at risk too many times.
The old woman began screaming, and combined with the horrible blisters that were forming on my face, my flesh saber started to retreat. In a panic, I made a dash for the kitchen while attempting to hand-start my invisibility on the way. I knew that I would need every advantage I could get if I were to survive my inevitable confrontation.
Bursting through the doors, the whole world seemed to go into slow motion. Which now that I think about it wasn't so much that as it was me pretending to run in slow motion while the rest of the world went on about its business at a perfectly normal speed. Every head in the kitchen turned in my direction as I made a slow motion spin move around a busboy and beelined toward the chef with the largest hat.
"What the fuck are you doi-" I slapped his hat off, cutting his protest short. "Knock it off! What the hell?"
"The hell" was that I knew what he refused to acknowledge: Without his hat to supply his power, he was vulnerable. As he leaned down to pick it up, I lunged. Gravy misted off of my face as I slid across the tiles, snatching the power hat from the floor and placing it atop my own head. In one smooth motion, I somersaulted back up to my feet and wheeled on my would-be killer.
"What's up now," I said, dropping into a defensive stance. He didn't get it. But before I could explain the hat reference, a girl called out from the doorway:
"The police are on their way. His wife said he has medication in the car. She's bringing it in."
"Drive away. Come on, just start the car and drive away. He'll never remember any of this."
I had no time to wait for the police to apprehend this maniac. Every second we let him live was another second he had to plan his escape. Slowly, he began to back away from me. I had him right where I wanted him. I edged forward, steering him toward the deep fryer.
"Someone get this sick crazy fuck away from me," he pleaded. Someone behind me said, "Please, sir." It was also code. It translated to, "John, continue doing exactly what you're doing." I nodded my understanding and began thrusting my hips back and forth, swinging my now deflated invisibility meter around in large circles -- each pass making a soft flesh-on-flesh slapping sound against my thigh.
Slowly, I inched forward, increasing the speed of my thrusts as the energy built up inside me. Soon, I would be fully charged and ready to unleash my full power -- I just needed a few more seconds.
Suddenly, Emily appeared in the doorway. She held up a pill bottle and shook it the way you shake a bag of pet food to get your cat to come out from under the bed. But I couldn't let her distract me. This was too important. Our lives depended on me making this one shot count. I upped the speed of my gyrations.
"John, you have to stop. He's not an assassin. He's just a guy making shitty steaks at T.G.I. Friday's. You have to let him g-"
"LEVEL 5 FIREBALL!" I screamed as the power reached its peak. Thrusting my hands through the air, I made a whoosh sound with my mouth and released its full force on the villain. Behind me, I heard Emily ask someone what his name was. She must have wanted to help me track down his family.
"Chad," she yelled at him as my fireball tore through the air in slow motion. "He cast a Level 5 fireball at you. You're dead."
He looked over at her in confusion. She repeated, enunciating certain words. He must have been foreign. "He cast a Level 5 fireball at you. You ... are ... dead."
His last look in this world was one of realization. Maybe of the wrongness of his evil ways. Maybe of the fragile mortality that once laid safe under the thin protection of his floppy hat. He looked back at me one last time and then exploded into flames, falling slowly and carefully to the floor. His screams were subdued, which relieved me, as I didn't want his death to disturb the other diners outside of those doors. I stepped up to his quivering body and said calmly, "You're firedballed."
"I'm totally fine."
The police arrived, as always, late. They approached me with my wife in tow. A meat bringer summoned a glass of water and handed it to her. I addressed the larger of the cops.
"You're late, fatty." I extended my hands, palms up. "Hand in your badge and gun."
He must have thought I was speaking in code, because instead of that, he placed handcuffs on me as my wife shoved a pill into my mouth.
"He'll be back to normal in about 15 minutes. Until then, if he tries to cast a mind-control spell on you, just act like you've cast an anti-magic aura. He'll spend at least 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get around it, and by that time, the medication should be kicking in."
"Ma'am, you know we still have to charge him, right?"
"Oh, yeah, I totally understand. We actually have a separate bank account set up specifically for that. He's ... doing the mind thing on you."
"Oh, right. Sorry. Um ... not today, John. We cast a mind-control-protection aura on ourselves before we came in. You'll have to come with us."
I didn't understand a word any of them were saying. It was a code I'd never heard before. All I knew was that these guys were good. A little too good. I deduced that they must have cast a protection spell upon themselves and immediately set to figuring out how to get around it while my wife put my visibility pants back on me and cleaned the potatoes from my face.
"I'll be down to pick you up from the station in just a bit, John. Do you understand?" I nodded. "You just remain calm and do what the nice officers tell you, and we'll be back home before sunset. I'm just going to sit down and finish my steak, and th-"
"No," interjected a meat bringer. "You're leaving. Like right now."
Emily sighed and accepted her decision. "I understand. I just want you to know that we're both so sorry for-"
"Get the fuck out. And if you come back again, we'll have you arrested on sight. Fuck both of you."
They actually did that "Hey, hey, hey ... goodbye" song.
As we all exited the restaurant, my wife kissed my slightly gravied cheek. "Happy Valentine's Day, John."
"Happy Valentine's Day, Shaniqua Childpuncher. I love you."