Crunchy Onion Hotdogs

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Just a little fun thing I was working on. It's quirky and cute. I hope you enjoy!

A few months ago my friend ago my friend hooked me up with this girl named Jone. She was a very pretty vibrant French girl who was always “in your face” but in a charming way. Our matchmaker left us an hour prior to give us some alone time. We made our way up Time Square. It was a cold winter night and we were both bundled up with thick coats and scarves. To keep our hands warm, however, we took our gloves off and coyly held hands. We may have only met a couple of hours beforehand but we immediately connected. Why not be young and impulsive? We were in New York after all.
A little ways up the road we heard a man calling out for free tickets to some talk show. With no particular destination in mind we were easily intrigued. We made our way to the theater and got in line which stretched around the block. That’s where I saw it; the very last Crunchy Onion Hotdog stand in New York.
“Oh my god,” I blurted out. I know Jone said something but I was too in shock over finding the stand to have heard her.
“Have you had a hotdog in New York yet?” Jone was incredulous.
“Yes, I ave and eet vas deesgusting. Ow could you be excited over something so bad?”
“Crunchy Onion Hotdogs are the symbol of my childhood.” The hotdog smell that had wafted over brought back strong distinct memories of my friend’s dad. We called him Mr. Daniels. He made and sold the hotdogs and would give us a taste of the hotdogs that he was going to sell the next day. He chopped up red chili peppers in the pig’s food so there was a natural spiciness to them. The smell of fresh bread and a sweet smokiness filled his kitchen. Even when I was a kid I could tell that I was eating something special.
“I felt as though I ad eaten a led weight.”
“Trust me,” I said with smile, “you haven’t tried anything like COHD.”
“Eet looks exactly the same.”
“It is, except for that.” I pointed to a small decal on the cart that had a smiling fireball standing on a crunchy onion covered hotdog. “That right there means it’s one of the originals. The cart probably dates back to the 1980’s.”
“Zee otdogs probably date back to zee 1980’s as vell.” We both laughed.
“Crunchy Onion Hotdogs are pure quality.” I lightly protested. “It was my friend’s dad that started up the company actually. He was just a guy trying to make some money. The problem was, was that he made a little too much money at a time where there wasn’t much to be had.” Jone didn’t understand. In France food is something to be savored. There are some chefs in France that are national heroes. You just can’t compare the street food in NY to pretty much any European country.
“Ow could such low quality food Thrive?”
“Now a days it thrives only because it’s cheap and people don’t care. But back when it was owned by my friend’s dad, it was amazing. He had a farm upstate and every other week he would make the hot dogs from scratch. Slaughter the pigs, grind the meat, put the casings on them, bake the bread, everything.” Of course hotdogs weren’t the only reason that I went over to the Daniel’s house. There was a kid in the neighborhood that we all called C.J. Not that that was his real name. His real name was something no one had ever heard. There were rumors but none that we could confirm. So the nickname C.J. stuck.
We both had that air of being an outcast; normal enough to have some friend but weird enough to where we were still picked on by those we called friends. There wasn’t an agreement that we were friends or that we were even becoming friends, we just were. We would patrol their small corn field for insects and decide which one would be best for keeping as a pet. I remember one time we went around the farm collecting everything we thought we might need in an apocalypse. We threw our collection in a pile back behind the barn door. “I think that’s everything.” C.J. would say. He was a wiry little kid but he was strong. He dumped the load he had in his arms onto our existing pile. We had collected about a dozen sturdy walking sticks, maybe two pounds of candy, some canned food which was anything we could find in Ms. Daniel’s cupboards, and a butter knife, for protection of course. When I was a kid time had no relevance to me. The thought of those days with C.J. ending were as far from my mind as me thinking they would last forever. That made it all the more jarring when he had to move so out of the blue.
Jone woke me up from my day dream.
“Vut appened?” She was close to me now. We had been standing in line for at least twenty minutes. My arms were wrapped around her body which made telling this weird little story intimate.
“Well,” I continued. “Like I said he started making a lot of money. And with every great money making idea there comes copycats. “
“Oh no, and e started losing beeznus?”
“No, even worse, they couldn’t touch him. This one man was beating an entire fleet of knock off vendors. They didn’t do the process he did.” The full process was Mr. Daniels’ closely guarded secret. They couldn’t do the process even if they tried. “So since they couldn’t copy him they decided to beat him. Some mobsters found out where he lived and threatened to harm his family if he didn’t split the profits with them.” Jone was wide eyed.
“E deedent do eet deed e?” She started to pound on my chest. “Tell me e deedent do eet!” I giggled at her torment which only aggravated her hitting me.
“He didn’t.” I assured her. “He took his family and moved. The thing is that’s the last I, or anyone else, ever saw of them.”
I had a flash of C.J. on the day he left. Both of our parents were rushing to get things in the Daniels’ car. It was only C.J. and I that were standing still.
“You’re my best friend.” He said.
“You too.” I said.
“Hey, did you ever learn my real name?” I had all but forgotten about the fact that C.J. wasn’t his name. He ran over and whispered his real name into my ear. I felt as though I had known my friend for the first time in all the years that I had known him. With that Mr. Daniels picked him up and put him in the car.
“Eef all of zat is true. Vut eez the cart doing ere?” I had caught a glimpse or two of the vendor but I hadn’t recognized him at all. I thought maybe the cart was stolen, or found, or sold off some long time ago. I was just as puzzled as Jone was. Then the vendor handed us two hot dogs.
“These’ll be on the house guys.” He said. The vendor gave a cheeky, knowing grin. Then it hit me all at once. It was C.J! I went to speak his real name but he quickly shushed me. “It was nice seeing you again man. Sorry we can’t talk right now. There are still people out there holding a grudge.” I didn’t know what to say. Whatever gibberish I did say, though, I know wasn’t enough. There was nearly a decade of catching up to do.
“It was nice meeting you.” He said to Jone.
“Likevize. Vut should I call you?” He gave a small chuckle.
“You can call me John.”

The hotdogs were delicious. Nothing like what Jone had tried previously. Before the show started I gave John my number. It was a good night. We got to see a couple of stars being interviewed and a few good comedians. When the show was done Jone and I ran out to see if John was still out there. He wasn’t. It’s been four months since we ran into him. Jone and I are dating now. Sometimes when we’re walking down the streets of New York we see him. It’s a rare sighting though. He’s never in the same place twice, hardly stays in one place for more than an hour, and only comes down once a month. He and I did get to do some catching up.  I found out that being a hotdog vendor is just a side job for him. A carrying on of traditions of sorts. He’s a history teacher now.

If you’re ever walking down the street with your friends and you see the last Crunchy Onion Hotdog stand in New York, bet your friends that it’ll be the best hotdog they’ve ever had, because most likely, you’ll win that bet.

Submitted: January 12, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Jack Grayson. All rights reserved.

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