I’m thrilled to be back on Shotgun Honey today with “Fortune,” a short story about stealing used french fry oil. It was inspired by three things: a story like this one, a story like this one, and my own experience as a dishwasher and short-order cook at the Corn Crib in Christiana, Pennsylvania, and the Gap Diner in Gap, Pennsylvania.
One of the tasks I performed was emptying the deep fryer oil into the grease barrels behind the restaurants. It amused me to no end to read those articles and learn that used grease is now quite valuable, which I’m confident was not the case when I lugged it out back in the late 1980s.
The Corn Crib closed in 2004. The owner, Chuck Artinian, passed away in 2008. Although the restaurant did reopen as the Happy Rooster (I haven’t been there), the things that made the Corn Crib unique were Mr. Artinian’s personality (if he didn’t insult you, he didn’t like you), magic tricks by his alter ego The Great Zucchini, and the outrageous ambiance. The Corn Crib’s slogan said everything you need to know: Some of the food is good.
The Gap Diner is still in business at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 41, although to say it gets “mixed” reviews on TripAdvisor would be generous. (When I was there, you were guaranteed a great breakfast. Pancakes and French toast were my specialty.)
I’m doubly pleased that “Fortune” was posted the same week as John Micek’s “Death is Bipartisan.” John and I both work in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Capitol Building. He’s part of the Capitol press corps; I work for the Senate Majority Leader.
By the way, like my first story on Shotgun Honey (“12 Before 9”), “Fortune” steals its title from one of my favorite bands, The Throes. It also co-opts a line from the song “Fortune” as dialogue: “Fortune’s just a day away.” Thankfully, The Throes are good guys and I’m reasonably sure they won’t sue me.