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Bitter Oracle - Chapter 9 - Just Your Friendly Neighborhood Stalker

by papillote


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

Where Mike Murphy acts like a stalker and where we meet our MP at work. To find out who Mike Murphy is, read Chapter 8.

“Hello. Welcome to Carmen’s Burgers. May I take your order, please?”

I always made sure to inject some extra cheer in my voice. I had long found out that even pain-in-the-ass customers tended to be on their best behavior when you pretended you were glad to see them. Sakes was so good at this game that they started smiling on the security screen just from his saying, “Hello.”

“Number 10. Extra pickles, extra fries.”

No thanks, no hello, no please, no nothing. In a drier tone, I replied, “$6.85. Next window.”

I cashed in the guy, as unsmiling as he was. Another car entered the drive-thru.

“Hello. Welcome to Carmen’s Burgers. May I take your order, please, ma’am?”

Same cheer. It was sometimes hard to maintain this level of buoyancy all day long, but I tried not to be rude to customers just because the people before them were jerks.

“Hi,” the young woman replied hesitantly. “Uh…I’ll have a…Uh, a small burrito. The one with guacamole and chicken?”

“Alright, a small chicken-guacamole. Anything else?”

“Uh, maybe a small coke and a dessert?”

“Listen, ma’am, the small chicken-guacamole, plus the small coke, that’s $6.50. Why don’t you take a Cajita? It’s five dollars. That’s our children’s menu. You can have the small chicken-guacamole and a small side of beans or a small fries, plus a small drink – why not a coke? And you can have a small ice-cream for dessert. We’ve got peach flavor right now!”

She laughed. “Thanks. With fries, then, a coke and plain vanilla ice-cream.”

“Excellent choice, ma’am. It’ll be five dollars. You can pay and pick up at the window.”

“Okay. Thanks again.”

“You’re welcome.”

She drove up to the window. She was a pretty, little thing, but I didn’t hit on her as I cashed her order. I was clad entirely in green, white and red polystyrene, from my cap to the tip of my rubber overshoes. Anyone who saw me in this and wasn’t immediately turned off had issues.

“You’re hilarious.”

I jumped and glared at Colleen, whom I hadn’t seen approach.

“Just doing my job,” I told her defensively, scratching my head where it itched under the cap.

She grinned at me over the pile of guacamole sauce bags in her arms. “Just doing your best to make a stranger’s night a little brighter.”

I blushed. I never knew how to react when people said nice things about me. Luckily, it didn’t happen often. I let out a soft hissing sound between my teeth.

“Need help?” I asked.

I was about to relieve her of some of the guacamole when the drive-thru’s gate rang. I glanced at the surveillance screen and I gritted my teeth together at the sight of the beat-up, old Volvo rumbling up to the kiosk. It stopped, and an annoyingly familiar face popped on my screen.

“That’s the guy, right?” Colleen asked, reading me like Carmen’s menu.

Instead of answering, I turned on the mic. “Carmen’s Burgers. May I take your order?”

“H-Hi,” Mike Murphy stammered. “Just a small fries.”

“$1.50. Next window.”

I turned off the mic and glanced at Colleen. She was still peering curiously at the screen over her pile of guacamole. “He looks normal,” she said.

I grunted.

“One small fries, though,” she added, an eyebrow raised. “Sounds like he’s pretty broke.”

I very pointedly looked away. Her expressive face was quickly morphing from curiosity to compassion. Her plump mouth was softening, the liquid brown of her eyes was warm. I tried to fill the entire window frame. I didn’t want Mike to catch sight of her behind me and to realize he had gained an ally.

“H-hi,” he greeted me with that tentative smile of his.

“$1.50,” I said, feeling like I was kicking a puppy.

Instead of fading, the smile turned sad. “Of-f course.”

He handed me the coins, still warm from his hand. I couldn’t help noticing that it was loose change. He did appear to be low in funds.

“Thanks. Perfect. Here are your fries. Don’t come back.”

He didn’t reply, and I sighed as he drove around the restaurant.

“Oh, honey,” Colleen said. “He’s definitely coming back.”

“I know. He’s been in the parking lot all day. Buys fries every hour or so.”

She made a face. “He must be really worried about his brother.”

“Shut up,” I said, but without heat.

She stared at me for a couple of seconds, then she blinked and smiled. “Come on, help me carry those suckers.”

I did, only too glad to drop the subject. I thought Colleen was done and it surprised me when, out of nowhere, she told me, “If he’s really bothering you, I’ll tell him when he comes in.”

“Why would he come in?”

“Darling, get real.” She gave me her “get real” look. “He’s been eating Carmen’s fries all day. That guy’s going to need a bathroom real soon. Real bad.”

It made me laugh, but I sobered up quickly. There was nothing funny about the entire mess. “Stay out of it, Colleen. Please.”

Read Chapter 10 to see Bitter's façade start to crack.


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767 Reviews


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Sat Jul 24, 2021 1:14 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi papillote,

Mailice again back with a short review! :D

I just can't help but get away from your story. This chapter had again the usual voice I was used to from the previous chapters. I liked that the story focused on a smaller point again and you also finally meet Colleen in person, after it was already hinted in one of the first chapters where Bitter is working.

I don't know why, but I feel a little sorry for Murphy after this chapter. He seems so shy and reserved that his friendliness is already more suspicious than anything else. His neurotic nature and this urge that he has to try to "buy" Bitter by means of fries gave me this impression. He was a fastidious, ridiculous character at the beginning who just wants to find his brother, but here he stalked unnaturally (is there even a natural way of stalking? I hope not) where I definitely would have finally called the police.

I also liked the chapter because a lot of the action here was in dialogue, which made the tone of the chapter more towards humour, levelling the whole story around Stalker Murphy a bit. Through the dialogue there was also a good dynamic between Bitter and Colleen and found it exciting to read that Bitter is also acting tough and a little icy towards her, but still trying to make the best of the situation.

"Listen, ma'am, the small chicken-guacamole, plus the small coke, that's $6.50. Why don't you take a Cajita? It's five dollars. That's our children's menu. You can have the small chicken-guacamole and a small side of beans or a small fries, plus a small drink - why not a coke? And you can have a small ice-cream for dessert. We've got peach flavour right now!"

I have more the impression that Bitter is annoyed here and in a sarcastic undertone wants to finally make the woman decide. But I like this excerpt; it also shows this kind of help Bitter gives without seeming helpful.

I never knew how to react when people said nice things about me.

That was already thought that Bitter didn't always receive compliments or just dismiss them.

"$1.50," I said, feeling like I was kicking a puppy.

Actually, that's nothing to laugh at, but I like your grotesque description here. :D

I didn't find anything that came across as funny or anything in this chapter now. It had a lighter tone than the previous ones, which I liked and also took off that pressure between Bitter and Murphy.

Have fun writing!

Mailice.




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Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:14 pm
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rosette wrote a review...



Greetings & Saluations, papillote!
I am here to, well, review. :p

(By way of warning, I haven't read any previous chapters so you might want to read this review with a grain of salt - in case I have anything horribly wrong).

I don't know how your writing has been with other chapters, but this one was pretty fun. I liked the light, carefree tone, and I liked the voice of the MC. She sounds like an amusing person (I agree with Colleen on that), but maybe a few insecurities in there. Also, when she doesn't like someone she really doesn't like them. Poor Mike.

“Listen, ma’am, the small chicken-guacamole, plus the small coke, that’s $6.50. Why don’t you take a Cajita? It’s five dollars. That’s our children’s menu. You can have the small chicken-guacamole and a small side of beans or a small fries, plus a small drink – why not a coke? And you can have a small ice-cream for dessert. We’ve got peach flavor right now!”

This dialogue definitely shows some character of our MC, but at the same time, I thought her helpfulness was a tad odd. I've never been to a restaurant or fast food place that told an adult to try to the children's menu. Typically, children's menus have an age limit.
Buut Colleen didn't freak about it, so I'm wondering if it's necessary for me to. Maybe this is just a rule Carmen's doesn't follow.

“That’s the guy, right?” Colleen asked, reading me like Carmen’s menu.

I like this little simile thing.

Mmmkay, so I took your advice and sort of skimmed through/read Chapter 8 to find out who Mike is, buuuut I couldn't find anything. So I am a bit curious as to why he's hanging out in the parking lot, ordering every hour, sort of "harassing" this girl. He's desperate. And sad. Which makes me sad.

Other than that seemingly important part, not much else happens.
So I do believe that concludes this review.

Thanks for sharing, and keep up the good work! :D
~rosette <3




papillote says...


Thanks for the review, Rosette. Glad you enjoy this chapter. I hope you'll give a chance to other chapters and maybe like them.
I don't know about the children's menu thing. In my restaurant, we've got no age limit and I usually advise adults to take it because it's so much cheaper.



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Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:14 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...



Ah, screw it, this is going to run out sooner or later. Might as well force myself to do extra green room reviews this month.

Nit-picks:

She was a pretty, little thing, but I didn’t hit on her as I cashed her order.

Just out of interest, are you trying to make Bitter seem like a... like a word I'm not allowed to say in a review? Creep, let's go for creep. This isn't the first time that I've heard Bitter talk in a really crude way about people's attractiveness. Remember I talked about the balance of understanding Bitter's motivations but her actions being subpar? This kind of thing swings it too far in the unrelatable way for me. Who wants to get hit on when they're trying to buy food?

She grinned at me over the pile of guacamole sauce bags in her arms. “Just doing your best to make a stranger’s night a little brighter.”

Wait, so why did Colleen call her "hilarious"?

Overall:

This was pretty much an enjoyable chapter. There was maybe a little too much time setting the scene at the start, meaning that even though this was a good length of chapter the story actually didn't move forward by very much at all. Mike followed her pathetically, she felt a bit sorry for him but concluded not to get involved. That's pretty much what happened two chapters ago except this time Colleen's here. If we could have known what happened next, it wouldn't have been too bad of a repetition, but adding more to this chapter would probably make it an inconveniently long chapter, hence my suggestion of moving by the first part faster.

I enjoy the Colleen/Bitter dynamic though, so it was cool to get to see that, for what it's worth. Flow, setting, character - all that stuff was good, but I'm sure it'll be stuff I've said before so there's not much point going into it.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




papillote says...


I hope you won't be disappointed by the next chapter. Frankly, I was tempted to cut parts of this one and to mix them together. I think it would make much more sense. It'll be nice to hear your thoughts about it.



ExOmelas says...


I look forward to it! (That one probably will be tomorrow, gotta get dinner then practice debating)



papillote says...


Practice debating? Like in Princess Diary when she pukes all over the place? That really happens?!



ExOmelas says...


um... I've only seen that movie once and it was ages ago, but probably not xD



papillote says...


A sort of club where all you do is argue a point (any point your teacher assigns to you) with other kids?



ExOmelas says...


Well it%u2019s university but kind of yes? There%u2019s two teams of two on each side and there%u2019s a motion eg... %u201CThis House Would introduce mandatory voting%u201D and you%u2019d have to argue for your side. It%u2019s very competitive and can get quite meta, which I imagine is a bit more boring than you%u2019re imagining :P



ExOmelas says...


Mobile sucks ^



papillote says...


The closest I've ever had in university were European Council mock-meeting. It was hilarious, people got so riled-up about stuff they didn't actually believe and countries they had no ties to.



ExOmelas says...


Aha yeah I%u2019ve heard of that kind of thing. Imagine that but you get points for doing good at it so some people actually care about it xD



papillote says...


It must be intense, considering how intense it got for us when it wasn't even graded. Mmm...



ExOmelas says...


Ohhhh yeah. Some people get insane about it and end up getting terrible academic grades because they're spending all their time worrying about winning the World Championships or something. Some people even end up doing postgrads just so they can keep debating!




"If fortis was here, we could have a teal party"
— Pompadour