The Lobster Guy (Ten)

The Lobster Guy at the theater.

Truman Humboldt glanced once in the rear-view mirror and the lobster ghost was gone. All he saw was the brown bowl where Lincoln, Nebraska sat in the distance like ripening fruit of varied shapes and shades, the orange and smoky image now growing ever smaller as the miles ticked off in the opposite direction.

Truman sighed deeply. He suddenly felt very free and uplifted. And although he was returning to the garbage town of Neptune and the awful job of breaking chicken necks at the processing plant, he looked beyond all that to a brighter future that he truly believed was within his grasp.

It was late afternoon when he finally returned the car to the rental office. He looked the vehicle over, smiled, and then patted the hood. “Thanks for the wonderful ride to Red Lobster,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”

 Truman slipped the keys and the official paperwork into the slot provided outside. He turned, put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath. “Ah,” he exhaled. “My future knows no bounds. No bounds whatsoever.”

Truman felt so good that he decided to take a stroll through the sad downtown and get himself an ice cream at Sundaes in Neptune, one of the few local places with life and one that was actually worth something. He felt he deserved a treat… Finally.  

Once he got to the shop with the big glass windows full of colorful scenes depicting an ice cream and candy wonderland, he pulled the door open and a bell tinkled with welcoming, signaling that he indeed must be alive. The place smelled of sugar and chocolate and happy memories and Truman went to the counter where a blonde teeny bopper wearing a paper white hat and a bright glossy smile greeted him. He was still wearing his lobster-red tuxedo complete with top hat and walking cane and she seemed impressed, or maybe just puzzled.

“Hi! Welcome to Sundaes in Neptune,” she bubbled. “What’s your pleasure today?”

Truman’s eyes danced over the large menu above and behind her and its wide variety of choices. “Hmm,” Truman thought out loud. “Do you have any lobster ice cream?”

The girl laughed. “Lobster ice cream? Eww. No, sir. I’m afraid we don’t have any lobster ice cream… I don’t think I’ve ever seen lobster ice cream. Is that real… Or are you just fooling with me?” She was very electric and talkative. “That’s a great outfit by the way. Did you just come from a wedding?”

“No,” Truman said as he still perused the menu. “I had lunch at Red Lobster.”

“Oh,” the girl said, casting an awkward glance in his direction and then turning to look up at the menu board along with him. “Do you like peppermint? The peppermint is my favorite.”

“I want ice cream, not toothpaste. I think I’ll go with the cherry chocolate delight in a sugar cone please,” Truman decided.

“Oh. Yummy yum yum,” the girl said, and she grabbed a silver scooper and dug into the bucket of cherry chocolate delight and plopped it atop a crispy sugar cone wrapped in gentle pink paper around the bottom half. “Just one scoop?”

“This is a special occasion. Make it two scoops,” Truman beamed.

“You got it,” the girl said, and she piled two meaty balls of ice cream on the cone and held it while he got his money out. He paid her and she handed him his special treat.
“Wow,” Truman said, smiling like a kid. “Awesome sauce… This looks great. Thanks.”

“Have a good rest of this beautiful day,” the girl said as Truman made his way toward the door. He turned and hoisted his cone as in a toast to the whole world. “It is a beautiful day!” he exclaimed with a broad smile, and he went back out into the grime and abandonment of the decaying downtown, but it did not soil his good mood. He focused on better days ahead as he walked, licking his ice cream slowly, relishing the present moment of peace and contentment.

It was becoming Sunday evening on the brim of the world, yet there was still light, as he made his way toward home. He stopped in front of the old movie house, The Neptune Theater, now dim and abandoned, irrelevant movie posters left behind, the glass of the ticket booth made opaque by time. He sucked the last of the ice cream from the bottom tip of the cone and looked into the building, past his own hazy reflection.

It had been left to rot, now a sea of soft dust floating about inside, ghosts of good times and laughter or maybe hot kissing in the back row floated through the lobby. Truman regretted never having someone to make out with at the movies. But then he thought, as he pushed the final piece of the cone into his mouth, so what… That was then, and this is now. He used his pointer finger to write something on the grimy glass: Be Here Now.

He stepped back and admired his proclamation for the world to relish in and hopefully live by; a proclamation that would eventually wash away but hold true forever, he thought. And he stuck his hands in the pockets of his lobster-red tuxedo pants and continued walking toward home.

Not long after Truman’s prophesizing at the old theater, a car came by and drove up slowly beside him as he walked. He turned to quickly look and then back again. He had no idea who it was or what they wanted. Maybe it was just someone lost and they wanted some directions, Truman thought. But then he realized the car looked somewhat familiar to him.

Then whoever was in the car honked the horn. Truman stopped. The passenger-side window slid down and a beautiful head leaned over and called out to him. “Hey, Truman! What are you doing?”

It was Maggie Barrymore.

Truman was shocked as he moved closer to the car and looked in. The smell of her perfumed, glossy life pleasantly assaulted his face.

“I’m walking home,” he nervously said. “I just got some ice cream.”

Then she laughed at him. “What’s with the wild tux?”

“I had a very important luncheon in Lincoln,” he said, and he straightened up with a sense of pride. He wanted to impress her. “At Red Lobster.”

Maggie Barrymore laughed at him again. “Red Lobster? You went all the way to Lincoln to eat at Red Lobster?”

“Yes,” Truman snapped, somewhat annoyed and not understanding why that seemed so ridiculous to her.

“Okay… I can give you a ride if you want.”

Truman’s eyes darted all around the interior of her nice car. It was clean. It smelled good. The stereo was playing some kind of poppy dance music that he didn’t know anything about. “You don’t mind?” he said. “I mean, you won’t get in trouble for hanging out with a co-worker. I wouldn’t want you to lose your job.”

“No.” She shrugged her smooth, bare shoulders. “It’s Sunday. It’s my day off. No one can tell me what I can or can’t do. Hop in.”

Truman pulled on the door and got in. That girlish smell of the car really got to him, and his heart started thumping. He was with a woman. A real woman. He looked over at her. She was wearing very short pants and he quickly glanced down at her long, lean legs as they worked the pedals. He had to turn away from her and glance out the window.

“You look different without your office clothes,” Truman told her.

“Yeah, I must look like a bum, but hey, it’s my day off, right? But I got to tell you… You look pretty sharp in that tux.”

“Thanks. I figured, hey, it’s Red Lobster. I got to look my best.”

She bit at her bottom lip as she looked over at him. “That’s cool. Were you with friends?”

“No, just by myself. Well, I was with a friend, but we had a disagreement and went our separate ways. The bottom line is, I don’t have any real friends. No one likes me.”

“Oh, Truman. I’m sure that’s not true.”

“It’s true.”

“I like you, and I could be your friend,” she said with a sultry tone almost, and she took her hand and moved it to his leg and gave it a gentle squeeze. “You can never have too many friends, right?”

“Aw, you’re just saying that because you feel sorry for me. And you didn’t want anything to do with me the other day.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Maggie said. “I’m sorry I acted like a jerk. I guess I was having a bad day. I do like you and I mean it when I say I want us to be friends.”

Truman tried to swallow the lump in his throat. “I would really like that,” he said to her.

“All right then,” Maggie said with a playful bob of her head. “Let’s be friends.”

Truman suddenly got excited by an idea. “Hey. After you drop me off… Would you like to come in and watch some Seinfeld with me.” He was sure she would immediately reject the idea. But then she didn’t.

“Sounds like fun,” she said.


“Sure. I could use a few laughs… And some company.”

Truman noticed she suddenly looked a bit sad. “Is something wrong?”

She shook it off with a gentle smile. “No… Just some man trouble.”

Truman leaned back in his seat, somewhat dejected. “You have a boyfriend, huh? I guess that’s not surprising.”

“I wouldn’t say boyfriend. It’s more like recreation,” she said with a laugh. “But you know, relationships of any kind aren’t always easy.”

“Hmm,” Truman hummed. “I wouldn’t know anything about that. Not really.”

She proceeded cautiously with her next question. “You’ve never been in a relationship before?”

“No,” Truman answered. “Can’t say I have.”

Then she chuckled as if he was kidding. “You’ve never had a girlfriend?”

“No, Maggie. I’ve never had a girlfriend.”

“Your entire life?”


“Truman,” she said sympathetically. “That’s terrible.”

“Tell me about it.”

“So… Have you ever kissed anyone?”

Truman turned to look at her. He noticed her lips and thought how well-versed in love they must be. “No. Not in real life.”

Maggie put a hand to her stomach like she was hurting. “That’s so sad.”

“You can turn right at the next block, and then the second right and all the way to the end,” Truman said, and he emitted a soft laugh. “I live at the end of the road.”

When they pulled into the driveway, Maggie shut the car down and turned to look at Truman. “Wait,” she said, and she moved closer to him, held him by the back of the head and pulled him in for his first real kiss.

When their lips parted, Truman relished the cool wetness that lingered. “Damn, Miss Maggie,” he said. “I had no idea it would feel so wonderful. I think my heart is going to explode.”

She giggled and looked down between his legs. “I think something else is about to explode,” she said with a smile. “Let’s go inside.”


Author’s Note: I had fully intended this to be the last installment of this story, but lo and behold, it is not. It has a life of its own. Thanks for reading and keep checking for more on The Lobster Guy. I’ll wrap it up soon.

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