Carelton Towers awoke with a peculiar ringing in his ears and was momentarily blinded by a brilliant white light. He removed his thick, Coke bottle spectacles and massaged the bridge of his nose. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he noticed that his vision was clear and focused without his glasses, his surroundings crisp and defined for the first time he could remember. His massive girth was still the same, but the wheezing in his breath was gone and he was filled with a sense of profound health and well being.
“What’ll it be, Sport?” a deep, baritone voice inquired.
Carl looked up, briefly startled. He could hear perfectly in stereo, both ears resonant, something he hadn’t done since going partially deaf in his right ear when he had turned sixty. Carleton shook his head and took in his surroundings. He was seated on a stool at a diner counter, but couldn’t remember coming into this particular place in years. It certainly wasn’t where he recalled being moments ago with Barney. The white and green porcelain enamel gleamed with the force of a million exploding suns and the chrome panels behind the counter sparkled like polished mirrors. The air was filled with thick aroma of frying onions.
“Harry? Harry Duncan?, Towers asked. Confusion clouded Carl’s mind as he struggled to remember just how he had arrived at this particular destination. “But, I thought, but didn’t you…..” the thought trailed off.
Behind the counter, Harry smiled, benevolence shining from his sparkling eyes, his crisp, starched white paper cap perched on his head at a jaunty angle. A spotless white apron protected his equally immaculate white shirt and a sporty green bow tie added just the right hint of color to his counterman’s ensemble. “Ha, ha, ha, “ rumbled Harry’s warm voice. “ You look a bit out of sorts, Carl. Maybe I could get you a bag full, but, no….. a bit too early to be putting those greasy little buggers into your stomach. Just started frying the onions anyway. Sit tight old buddy, I’ve got just the thing to light you up first thing here!”
Carleton Towers glanced down at the frothy little mug that Harry set before him on the counter, the porcelain winking in the bright light like bone bleached in the high desert sun.
“Just the ticket, Carl. A triple latte frappachino with extra whipped cream and just a drizzle of virgin vanilla. On the house!”
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRHHHHHH!!!!” screamed Carleton Towers as recognition flooded his brain. “I’ve died and. Lord help me, I’m in HELL!”


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