Chapter 23 - A Familiar Place
Grant sat within the nostalgic atmosphere of Yar’s Burgers. He was no longer surrounded by memories of a tragic event. Now he was surrounded by the familiar smell of fast food burgers.
He had no desire to eat, but this was the only place in the store that provided seating. The dining area had no more than a few families seated and eating, which made sense. Who would eat at this ordinary restaurant when outside the doors of this building, a rare selection of treats lined under colorful tents.
Yar’s Burgers brought him solace, as odd as that might sound. It had a similar presence to the one in Tonim, where he would go to calm down and eat cheap meals, escaping his parents. The biggest difference between the two places was if he were to look to his right, a massive area opened up with shoppers frantically dashing about within the circus of capitalistic greed. The level of relaxation he could achieve here didn’t compare to the quietness of Tonim though.
Grant sighed. Why did everyone always feel like they needed more? He had seen first hand many times how materialistic goods had siphoned others to and from groups depending on what they owned. Even in high school, if someone didn’t have popular brands of clothing or items, kids would look down at you. And for Grant, he ended up wearing the same clothes for years, as his parents had no care for him anymore.
The worst offenders for this were the Buffalo boys. Anyone who wanted to join their friend circle had to buy a certain branded leather jacket and get their signature buffalo patch stitched on to the back. What foolish people.
He thought back to the time he met Brax outside of the rest stop. That must have been his way of coping with the loss of everything, running away from all he knew. Of course, Grant also understood the loss of someone as close as family. He lost his way for quite some time as well.
But, that still didn’t address the situation of the dry blood on his clothing. That was still a mystery. If he was at the scene of the crime why wasn’t he killed? Maybe he did manage to escape and the blood of his allies splattered onto his clothing. Or maybe he was the murderer after all. He didn’t have anything to base these theories on, the news hadn’t discussed the murders since the week they happened. It was as if they hadn’t even happened in the first place.
Grant had been making a daily trip to Nha-Stop to buy food and he always looked at the newspaper bin, but there were never any stories related to them.
He shook his head. He had gone over this way too often. It didn’t even have anything to do with him, so why should he care? Piling more worries upon his mind wasn’t worth it, he’d just wait for the day the case was settled.
He looked forward and behind the counter. Workers with their red shirts and black pants stood, idling, talking amongst each other. Their signature hat with the letter Y, a smoke design scattering from the two points on top of the letter.
If there was a job Grant didn’t want more than retail, it was fast food. He had never worked in such an establishment before, but he had heard stories from eavesdropping in workers’ conversations in the past.
Corrupt CEOs, terrible managers, entitled customers, Grant had heard it all. Although when he really thought about it, comparing retail and fast food, they didn’t feel all too different.
Grant reached into his pocket, grabbing for the piece of paper Rinari shoved in there. He examined it, a phone number and an address was written with fantastic handwriting. Penmanship alone like this would tempt anyone to give the call a number, it gave the impression of being invited on an all expense paid luxurious trip. Like hell he would fall for it and contact her again, although he decided it would be wise to keep hold of it in case he needed to eventually report her to the law.
Before coming back into Knairez, Grant had retrieved his copy of Bloodline Beasts from Ambri’s car. Gripping the book in his hands, he looked around his environment once more. He then proceeded to open it and read.
The main character was finally closing in on rescuing his team. Grant’s eyes darted back and forth as he absorbed each page, the story clutching onto his attention.
After about an hour and a half, and with the final panel once again ending on a cliffhanger, he teared up seeing the main character finally come into contact with his friends he had desperately been searching for. But Grant would have to wait another month to find out if he was able to rescue them.
If only it’d be possible to even see Elijah again, Grant thought. Was it too much to hold onto the hope that perhaps he could get the chance to find him and save him? It’d been eight years, which Grant knew his chances were shallow, however he couldn’t help but hold onto what little hope resided within.
“We shouldn’t make Grant wait any longer,” Rhett said, feet tottering as he tried to reclaim his balance from the ride they last went on.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Ambri said as she looked out towards the sky as it had moved its way closer to the edge of the horizon.
The fair had only increased in attendance over the last few hours and the wait times were getting longer and longer. It was becoming a bit of a waste of time for them. Standing in line thirty minutes only for five minutes of fun.
“It would be nice to get back to Lyros before dark too.” Rhett stretched out his hands and back, loosening his muscles from the cramped seats that were installed on most of the rides.
“I don’t mind driving in the dark, it’s actually my favorite time to drive. Especially with a group, but yeah, Grant has been waiting an awfully long time. I hope he’s feeling better.” Ambri took another look around the massive crowds. “I know, why don’t you grab him while I buy us some snacks for the road. My treat.” She smiled.
Rhett nodded and headed for the entrance of Knairez. Once again, he was greeted by an offer of popcorn, but he hesitantly refused, then walked about ten steps further and turned around.
“Nevermind, I’ll take a bag!” Rhett said, catching his breath as he jogged back to the booth.
“Good! Good! This batch just finished,” the worker said. “And good thing you came back, we’ve been handing these out to shoppers until we run out.” A piece of paper slid into Rhett’s hand.
A ticket to a museum about Nhajan history. Rhett smiled as he told the worker what kind of seasoning he wanted on his popcorn. The worker scattered sprinkles upon his snack and Rhett’s eyes lit up. He took the bag, and within a second his mouth was full with popcorn.
As he headed towards Yar’s Burgers, he ate and examined the ticket further.
The museum seemed to be showcasing ancient Nhajan artifacts. Rhett knew a little about Nhajan history, but being from Kandorr, it wasn’t something that was taught to him as much. Although, Nhajan history did have some wood sculpting techniques he wouldn’t mind learning about. He folded up the ticket and put it in his back pocket.
A lit yellow sign displaying Yar’s Burgers came into view overhead and he walked inside to find Grant with his hands holding up his head staring down at the table.
“You sure you’re okay, Grant?”
Grant’s body struck upwards. “Y-yeah! I’m fine. Sorry, was just spacing out a bit.”
Rhett took the seat across from Grant and his body oozed into a comfy position. Finally, a stable seat, He thought. Rhett looked around the restaurant’s lobby and took another handful of popcorn.
“Yep, this definitely gives the feeling of home.” Rhett smirked, as munched on some popcorn and tilted the bag towards Grant.
“Oh, I’m good, and yeah, if it’s one thing that stays the same everywhere, it’s Yar’s Burgers.”
Rhett kept glancing back towards the large menu boards hoisted above the front counter. He unconsciously licked his lips while staring deep into a photo of a juicy burger, then turned his head back. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot why I came here. We’re ready to head out, sorry for making you wait so long.”