Beyond the Western
Pulled Pork Surprise
Scott A. Gese

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

A restaurant patron learns to trust his first impressions the hard way.

Beyond the Western

Ralph Stark worked for a small tech. company in San Francisco. It was a great place to work. One of the many perks they offered their employees was a free catered lunch five days a week. They served good food and Ralph ate in the cafeteria most days.

Today was different. There was a small restaurant just around the corner that he and his coworkers had never eaten at. It was called Lucky’s. It looked like a dive joint. One to stay away from unless you had a cast iron stomach, which he didn’t.

On a whim, Ralph decided to be adventurous and give Lucky’s a chance.

“You never know,” he thought. “It might be a neighborhood gem in disguise.”

He asked several coworkers if they’d like to join him. They all turned him down. “No offense, Ralph. We’re not looking to get food poisoning any time soon,” was the jest of their replies.

“Come on guys, sometimes you just have to live on the edge. Take a chance once in a while. Step out of your comfort zone and give this place a chance. You never know what you might discover, about Lucky’s or yourself,” replied Ralph.

“It might be the best damn restaurant it town. A hidden gem right under our noses. There has to be at least one brave soul willing to back me up?”

Everyone ignored the plea. Everyone except for a woman named Jenny. She spoke up. “That sounds like a challenge. I’ve never eaten there myself. I’ll take you up on it.”

“Yes! ladies and gentlemen, we have a taker. This young lady shows the rest of you so-called brave men just what wusses you really are. Thank you, Jen for accepting my challenge. Let’s go.”

“We’ll have an ambulance on call, just in case you need your stomach pumped,” replied one of his coworkers.


When Ralph and Jen walked through the door of the restaurant, they both had second thoughts, but they kept it to themselves. The place was a little dark. It was suppose to be the lunch rush and yet all the tables were empty and only two people sat at the counter.

The floor looked dirty. Almost like it hadn’t been mopped in a couple of weeks. The table they sat at had something sticky on it. Ralph had to ask the waitress to please wipe it down one more time.

Their first impression of the place was not good. They put on their game faces as they sat silently wondering if they had made a bad choice. Still, they stuck it out, hoping the food would more than make up for the look of the place.

The bad vibes were thick, but Jen broke through. “We should have T-shirts made up with, ‘I Survived Lucky’s’ printed on them,” she suggested.

“That’s good, but first let’s see if we actually do survive,” replied Ralph.

“We can always get up and leave,” replied Jen.

“No, I said I’d give this place a chance. Let’s see what the food is like. Are you wanting to leave?”

“Nope. If you’re staying, I’m staying.”

It took several minutes for the waitress who had wiped off their table to come back and take their order.

Jen played it safe and ordered a small salad. Ralph caught the smell of something good coming from the kitchen. “Is that pulled pork I smell? He asked.

“Yes, it is. Made fresh yesterday. Would you like to order some?”

“Yesterday, hmm. Oh what the hell. I’ll have a pulled pork sandwich.”

“Good choice,” replied the waitress. “The cook always adds something a little extra to the sauce. It’s always different and usually good.”

“My aren’t we brave,” remarked Jen after the waitress had left.

“You heard the waitress. It’s always good, so how bad can it be?” Remarked Ralph.

“No, she said usually good. We’ll soon find out,” quipped Jen.

They enjoyed each others company as they waited for what seemed like an unusual amount of time for their order. As they waited, there was a sudden commotion coming from the kitchen area. The cook was rushed out the front door with a towel wrapped around his hand.

“That didn’t look good,” remarked Ralph. He asked the waitress if everything was okay.

“Oh… a… yes, yes, everything is just fine. I’ll have your order out in just a minute,” she replied.

When their food finally did show up it actually looked edible and tasted surprisingly good.

“Maybe we did find a gem,” remarked Ralph as he enjoyed a bite of his pulled pork sandwich.

As he took a second bite, he felt what seemed like a piece of gristle in his mouth. He thought about swallowing it and not spitting it out in front of Jen, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He decided to politely spit it out into a napkin instead. Only after he looked at it did he realize what it was. It was the tip of a finger down to the first knuckle.

He began to gag. The waitress thought he was choking and rushed over, “Is everything okay? Ralph handed her the napkin. When she saw the finger she remarked, “well there that thing is.”

The restaurant soon disappeared, but the memory of that lunch remained with Ralph forever.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.