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Abe's Diner

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Author's Notes

"They're not gonna get here in time ... ... Then what do you suggest? ... I suggest we make a run for it ... ... There is no way we are all getting out of here alive ... Someone will have to stay behind ..."

It's a wonder as to how a place like Abe's Diner sees any business at all but business it does see and all the rest too. Castletown is and always has been a rather large and continuously growing town though Abe's sits alone on the outskirts of town more than a fair distance away from everything and anything else noteworthy. Prosper it has and prosper it does for a good three decades now. That’s Abe’s Diner.

Kate Evans arrives just before five in the afternoon of Thursday the second of April 1987, always early or right on time and usually open to take on the odd extra shift or two if needed or asked. Friend and co-worker Lydia Devlin has been on duty since opening and is delighted in more ways than one to see Kate come in for her shift and as for the present moment, it is as peaceful as the place has been all day and at that, there is still plenty to keep staff occupied.

'Long day?' asks Kate.

'That and the rest,' responds Lydia.

Little can either know that the day has really only just begun.

Throughout its existence, Castletown has received more than its fair share of bumps and bruises, and as it continues to reap the benefits of a high turnover. These bumps and bruises keep on coming and lately, they do so at a more furious pace than ever before. As ready to retire for the day as she can be, Lydia says her goodbyes to the staff and to regular customers she has become quite accustomed to. On her way to the exit and for whatever reason, she decides to answer a ringing payphone that rests not all so far away from the main customer doorway.


'Abe's Diner?' speaks a softly spoken male voice that makes a statement as much as it asks a question.

'Yeah, looking for anyone in particular?'

'Yes, my dear... You.'

'Excuse me? Who is this?'

'Who I am, does not matter my dear, what does matter is what I have to tell you.'

'Seriously? I am going to hang up now, okay?'

'Do that and everyone in Abe's Diner, and anywhere else near-by, dies.'

'And I am supposed to believe that? Goodbye.'

'Fine by me if you want to die and kill everyone else while you are at it, go right ahead.'

'Alright, you have ten seconds before I hang up. Speak.'

'First of all, my dear, you must remain calm. Any sort of panic that you might arouse will get everyone killed. Now, you need to tell me that you understand this before I proceed, alright?'

'Whatever you say, honey.'

'Listen, it would be wise to take me seriously. There is a bomb in the Diner,' the voice speaks with a little more agitation now than calm.

'Come again?'

'You heard me. It has been pressure activated, and I have received notification of this, which means someone is sitting on it... As in sitting on it right now. If they so much as move over on their seat then the bomb goes boom, got that?'

'Erm... Good one. You are a day late buddy; April fools was yesterday.'

'Believe what you will, but that bomb is also on a timer. In less than ten minutes the timer runs out. One way or another the Diner is a goner. It may be up to you as to if anyone gets out with their lives intact.'

'Who is this? What's wrong with you?' The phone line goes dead. 'Hello? Hello?' she speaks tapping on the cradle hook switch tongue, making a futile attempt at reconnecting the call. What choice does Lydia have other than to take this call seriously?

Calmly she looks around. There are no obvious signs of there being a bomb anywhere with which she can see, that doesn't mean that there aren't any bombs anywhere near-by. Lydia considers her options as she replaces the phone receiver back to where it belongs. What was it that guy said? The bomb has been pressure activated... So someone is actually sitting on it.

The Diner currently has thirty-three customers, just as well the call came at this time for the Diner at full capacity can seat up to ninety-six people. In this moment Lydia and Kate are obviously here, another waitress has completed her shift and has left already and one more is due to arrive within the next hour. Diner owner Gordon Abraham is currently not on the premises. In the kitchen, there are two short order cooks on duty and one porter so how does Lydia get the information she has been given out there without inciting crazed panic?

She can't just blurt it out. If there really is a bomb then panic will set it off, sure hasn't the caller said that if whomever activated it moves then the bomb goes off? So, Lydia has to say something. She can't risk movement away from the bomb or it will be bye-bye baby. Say nothing and if movement doesn't set it off then a timer will. The clock is ticking.

'Is everything alright?' asks Kate closing in on Lydia's position.

'No, everything is not alright.' Blurt it out maybe it is, with tact though if that is at all possible. 'Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention, please? Please remain calm and I am sure everything will work out just fine. Despite what I am about to tell you, none of you can leave your seats. It is imperative that you all remain still.'

'What are you doing?' Kate quietly asks.

'I don't know to be honest, but I have to do something. That call I answered just now, wasn't such a nice call.'

'What call?'

'I answered a phone call a moment ago, came through our own pay-phone,' speaks Lydia loud enough for all to hear. 'Now it may be a prank call and if is then we will find out in due time, remember please do not get up off your seats. The caller says that there is a... Is a bomb in this very Diner.'

Of course, there is some reaction to this, some commotion, and a lot of disbelief; no one stands so Lydia continues to speak.

'Caller said the bomb is pressure activated so until we find it or prove it doesn't exist please stay where you are. We should do just that; prove that the bomb is real or not.'

'Shouldn't we call the police?' Kate asks loudly.

A logical but futile suggestion, the clock is ticking though the call is made all the same. Lydia makes the call from the same payphone the warning came through and explains what needs to be explained. Information is passed on all of which is common sense and all of which Lydia is aware, so futile the call may be. Time is wasting. Indeed it is highly unlikely that anyone capable of diffusing a bomb will get out here in less than ten minutes.

Questions come; can a bomb be seen? No. Are there customers and or staff members that can be evacuated from the Diner? Yes. There are plenty of seats; chairs that can be clearly seen to hold nothing more than the chair itself and whomever so happens to be sitting on them so sixteen customers are in positions where they can indeed evacuate the premises. The cooks and porter too can leave. Those of a brave disposition do not want to completely vacate the grounds but move on they must.

Lydia is not going anywhere as long as she is in a position where she can be of aid to others, and Kate is as yet unwilling to leave her friend. Seventeen customers and two staff members remain inside. Next question, from those who remain seated, can any tell as to if there is anything odd about where it is they so happen to be sitting?

All remaining customers are sitting in booths. One of whom looks a little, or perhaps a lot, more nervous than the rest. A young lady looks positively frightened. If anything, she looks as if she does not know how to respond, Kate sees this, as does Lydia.

'Miss, what is your name?' asks Kate.

'It's... Tanya' she says as it appears uncertain to if the words she speaks calm her some or heightens the fear she feels. 'I heard that phone ring just after I sat down. There was a clicking sound when I did sit. I am on the bomb, right?'

'We know nothing yet,' Kate tells her.

As subtlety as she can, which is not very, Kate maneuvers herself to attempt to see under the table Tanya sits by. Booths can possibly sit four or five people. A large wooden table to each booth with cushioned green leather seating with wooden backing and bases. There is a panel in the base behind Tanya's calves. If possible, this panel will need to be looked at. If possible, this panel will need to be removed. Lydia has re-joined Kate, temporarily leaving the phone handle unhooked with an emergency dispatcher still on the line.

'What have we got?' asks Lydia.

Kate points to the panel. Tanya, tempted to look at what Kate is pointing at, is warned about moving by her father who had come here with Tanya. Tanya's dad has come to spend some quality time with all three of his daughters, the diner being somewhere he in particular has been coming to for years. The panic in dad's warning jolts Tanya back, stopping her from getting up. Luckily enough her movement is slight enough not to create too big a deal.

'Mister...' asks Kate.

'Hammond, but call me Ted.'

'Mister Hammond... Ted... there is a panel by Tanya's legs. If there is a bomb and I guess we have to assume that there is, and if Tanya is sitting on it then quite possibly it is behind that panel and if you are feeling confident, would you like to try to remove the panel?'

Glances are shared before Lydia returns to the phone to discuss the find. The person on the other end of the line agrees that it is necessary to remove that panel. Ted moves slowly, weary that he still could be sitting on something, of course, nothing is guaranteed. Having successfully moved off his seat Ted tackles that panel, and it comes away handily enough to reveal a digital timer displaying digits in large red numbers counting down at six minutes three seconds... Two seconds... One.

Behind the timer is a black panel. No wiring or explosives are visible though it has to be assumed that they are in there somewhere. This information is passed over the phone and the suggestion is made to clear the premises. Evacuate everyone including Tanya's sisters and have them all get as far away from the diner as possible. The sisters are old enough to temporarily look out for themselves and for each other that their safety should not be a major issue at this time.

As the timer moves below five minutes, only four people remain within Abe's Diner. Tanya Hammond, her dad, and diner waitresses Kate Evans and Lydia Devlin. Cautiously Tom attempts to get past that black panel behind the digital display.

'It's no use; there is no give in it,' says Tom with thoughts of the worst occurring increasing by the second. 'Is there a bomb disposal unit coming?'

'They're not gonna get here on time,' says Lydia.

'Then what do you suggest?'

'I suggest we make a run for it...' says Tanya, fear, and panic with the desire to get the hell out of dodge taking away her ability to think straight.

'There is no way we are all getting out of here alive,' says Kate seriously thinking about making a bolt for the door.

'Three of us can make an exit. Someone will have to stay behind,' Lydia says doing her best to keep a level head.

'I will,' says Ted obviously thinking more of his daughter. 'I'll stay.'

'No, no dad. No...' and the tears start to flow.

Kate takes a step backwards and throws a look towards the exit. She then shares a glance with Lydia. The clock has now dropped below four minutes. 'Alright, how are we gonna do this?'

'Simple. I sit next to Tanya and we scooch over at the same time and you guys take her outside... Easy.'

'No dad, no. I'm not doing it,' Tanya's voice crackles, her tears reaching her lips.

Ted takes his fifteen-year-old daughter’s hands. 'Tanya, I'm so proud of you, all that you have become, all that you will become. Go with these ladies and stick with your sisters. All will be fine, you'll see.'

'Dad, don't do this. Please.'

'It's alright honey; go on... I love you.'

Kate can't hold back her tears and Lydia struggles too. They both reach for a hand each and aid Tanya out of the booth she had been sitting in since her arrival and dad takes her spot without difficulty. Tanya collapses to the floor in an utter breakdown of emotional grief. The other two give her a few seconds, the clock continues to count down.

'C'mon, let's get you safe.'

Kate and Lydia aid Tanya up and hold on to her as she attempts to hug her dad, ensuring that movement is minimal. 'I love you.'

'Love you too and your sisters... With everything I've got.'

The clock has moved below three minutes. A move is made towards the door, slowly. At the exit Tanya grabs the door and refuses to let go, calling out for her dad. Two minutes twenty-five seconds remain and counting.

'Mister Hammond,' Kate calls out.

'Tanya, go on now, listen to your father. Let the ladies take you outside,' dad says wiping away his own tears.

'Dad... Dad...' she continues to call out fighting with every ounce of strength she has.

'Honey... Let the door go.'

One minute forty... One minute thirty-five...

Tanya loses her grip and the waitresses get no more than twenty feet away from the diner entrance when Tanya manages to wriggle out of their grip. The girl stumbles back through the entrance. Ted struggles to fight the desire to get up and move towards his daughter. Determined, Lydia refuses to give in and quickly regains a hold on Tanya.

One minute twenty... One minute fifteen...

Kate isn't all so far behind and between Kate and Lydia, Tanya's evacuation is soon complete. There are sirens in the distance. A quick response from the emergency units given the distance they are based away from the diner, still, it is nowhere near quick enough to have any kind of impact on the situation.

Lydia, Kate, and Tanya have taken refuge in a ditch, exhausted due to fighting the struggle to get away.

Twenty seconds... Fifteen seconds... Ten.

Lydia and Kate can't watch.

Three... Two... One...


Written by actung
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