The Last McDougal’s
By David D. Levine
As the old man came in, letting the door close gently behind him, an expression came over his face that Garth had seen many times before: a compound of misty nostalgia and appalled astonishment. His gaze swept across the yellow and orange fiberglass chairs, their cracks and dings lovingly but visibly repaired; the plastic-topped tables with the white half-moons rubbed by millions of elbows; the light softly shining from the satiny steel of the napkin and catsup dispensers. Finally the old man’s eyes stopped dead on the smiling face of the six-foot-tall fiberglass cow that stood at the end of the counter, wearing an apron and a chef’s hat. “My God,” he said, “it’s Moogle McDougal.”
“It certainly is,” said Garth. “Welcome to McDougal’s. May I take your order?”
“Give me a minute,” he replied as he perused the menu. He had a comfortable old boot of a voice, rough but mellow. “It’s been… jeez, thirty years? …since I’ve been in one of these places. Um, I’ll have a double cheeseburger, a small order of fries, and….” He grinned. “…and a shake. Chocolate.”
About the Author
David D. Levine is a science fiction and fantasy writer who’s published over fifty stories in markets including Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, and Realms of Fantasy. He won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story, Endeavour Award, Writers of the Future Contest, James White Award, People’s Choice Award for Best Drabblecast Story of the Year, and Phobos Fiction Contest, and has been nominated or shortlisted for the Nebula Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, Aeon Award, Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest, an earlier Hugo Award, and the John W. Campbell Award (twice).
His stories have appeared in four Year’s Best volumes and have been translated into French, Czech, Hebrew, Swedish, Romanian, Finnish, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. He has been an instructor at the Alpha Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Workshop for Young Writers; the Cascade Writers Workshop; Rainforest Writers Village; and numerous science fiction convention writers’ workshops. He is a member of the Wild Cards consortium, Book View Café, and the Science Fiction Writers of America, for whom he coordinated the SFWA Northwest Reading Series.
David lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Kate Yule, with whom he co-edits the fanzine Bento.
About the Narrator
Serah Eley is the original producer, editor and host of Escape Pod. She mispronounced her name as Steve Eley at the time, but has since realized that life is much more fun as a woman, and came out as transgender in 2015. Serah lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two spouses (she prefers “spice”), Sadi and Cat.
So if there were ever any betting pools on what happened to Steve: the dark-horse winner is “changed sex and joined a committed lesbian love triangle.” She is, obviously, still Having Fun.