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 the Hugo- and Nebula-winning author of three novels, including the Andre Norton Award winner Arabella of Mars, and over fifty short stories. If you enjoy his reading of this story, his short story collection Space Magic, read by the author, is available on Audible.com.
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.