"There's a thin line between what is real and what is not. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference." That's what was written on the billboard Matt saw before he looked up higher into the sky and saw what appeared to be a flying saucer. The lights coming from the saucer were almost blinding and caused Matt to miss his turn on the highway. He figured he would take the next exit and turnaround, but that exit never came. So Matt kept driving. Fog crept in and visibility was low. Matt had been driving for hours and he was hungry now. Having not seen any place to eat for miles, he was pleasantly surprised when he finally saw a diner. It was midnight on a Saturday, and he knew that he was lucky to find any place at all that was still open at this hour. Fortunately, The Portal Cafe was open 24/7.
After Matt got out of his car, he stood in the parking lot for a few minutes and just stared at the diner. He had no idea where he was, but his stomach was growling and he could smell a sweet aroma coming from the diner. The stars were shining beautifully in the sky. It was that kind of night. As he gazed into the sky, a woman walked by him and said: "you don't understand what you're looking at, you just think you do."
Befuddled, Matt replied, "excuse me? Ma'am?" The woman, who was dressed as a waitress, winked and said "don't worry child, all this is, is a moment you have to live through. A memory you have to dance through. A walk in the sky you have to stroll through. In the twinkling of an eye, it will be gone, like that comet." Matt looked up and saw a comet blazing across the sky. "See what I mean?" The woman said. "We're only here for a moment, and then poof, like that, we're gone. Like a magic trick."
"Magic?" Matt responded. The woman said, "Oh yes honey child, even in this world of greed and lust there's magic. You have to hold onto that magic wherever you can find it and never let it go. Hold it close to your heart like a full house in a game of poker. That's your fuel, don't you know that by now? Who am I to talk? Ever notice it's so easy to give advice and so difficult to follow it? Why is that? Well, I'd better be on my way, my shift is over and my work is done, at least for now." Matt said, "I didn't even catch your name." The woman said "I'm Destiny. Ain't that kinda funny? Hey listen, I know you're not getting what I'm saying now. I'm giving it to you now, but that doesn't mean that you have to understand it now. You'll get it later."
As the older black woman turned around, her diamond earrings dazzled and her pearly necklace shined. Matt said, "well thank you, Destiny, I look forward to learning the meaning of your words, and by the way, my name is Matt." Destiny looked back and said, "oh I know your name sugar. I know more about you than you think. But you better hurry up, they're waiting for you inside and there's a warm pie with your name on it". Matt, a white man in his mid 20's who had grown up in an all-white New England town, had a look of bewilderment on his face. He had never met this woman before in his life. Destiny said, "go on now child and remember, safety is an illusion. Nothing is safe." Matt popped the collar on his brown leather bomber jacket and went into the diner.
A blond waitress said, "right this way." She whipped out a menu and said "I strongly recommend the pie." As Matt looked at the menu, he was shocked to see huckleberry pie. He told the waitress that he had been searching for huckleberry pie his whole life but had never been able to find it. The waitress, whose name tag said Maggie, responded, "well my friend you've come to the right place. You can get apple pie anywhere. That's common. But huckleberry pie, now that's a different matter altogether. See now that's special." Matt looked around and didn't know what he was looking at. It was like a Halloween costume party. People were wearing clothes from all different periods throughout history. He knew that he was awake, but he felt like he was dreaming.
Matt became distressed. He put his head in his hands and just like that Maggie brought out the pie. Matt said, "that was quick." Maggie said "yeah well, we were kind of expecting you. Matt said, "what do you mean?" And then he said, "Is this real?" Maggie said "it's as real as the huckleberries in that pie. And I'm talking huckleberries, not blueberries. But what is real anyway? Don't worry so much sugar. It's not going to do you any good. Not in here, in this place, or out there, or any place."
Matt fixated on Maggie's eyes. It looked like rainbows were spinning around in them. He said, "what color are your eyes?" She said "well, technically blue, but I guess it all depends, now doesn't it? We all see different things. Sometimes they swirl like lollipops, or so I've been told." Not sure what to make of that, Matt began to take a sip of the diner's coffee. He said, "now that's the best coffee I've ever had in my life." With a smile on her face, Maggie said, "wait until you try the pie." At that moment, everyone in the diner looked expectantly at Matt. They all were eager to see his reaction. When Matt put that warm piece of pie in his mouth, the diner became quiet.
Matt's facial reactions made it clear how good the pie tasted. Matt groaned and said, "what in the world is going on around here? This is the best thing I've ever had in my life." Maggie said "Yeah, the folks in the kitchen are talented. Gifted even. Anointed I say. And the chef, he's a miracle worker. He can really cook and bake and make just about anything and everything from scratch. He takes all kinds of ingredients, mixes them up, and works them together for good. Even things you wouldn't think would work well together. I mean stuff that should come out real funky. Don't know how he does it. It's truly a wonder to behold. I'm glad you got to taste how good he is."
Matt said, "Hey, where am I anyway? I kind of got lost on my way here and stumbled upon this place." Maggie said, "yeah, most of our customers are lost. But then again, we all get lost from time to time. How can you not in this crazy world?" Matt said, "so I know I'm not in Massachusetts anymore, right? I feel like I drove all the way to Maine. Is that where we are, Maine?" Maggie said, "well, I could tell you we are in Maine if that would ease and comfort your mind, but the truth of the matter is, it's more like we're on Mars if you know what I mean?" Matt said, "See that's just it, I don't know what you mean. Has everyone around here gone nuts? I'm not following what you or anyone else in this place is saying." Maggie said, "oh dear, let me get my manager and see if he can help."
While Matt was waiting, he could overhear the other patrons in the diner. One said, "well, at least he likes the pie." As Matt looked up, an older gentleman with a mustache reached out his hand and said "Hi, I'm John and I'm the manager." Matt shook his hand. John was wearing a bow tie and a top hat. John said, "how do you like the pie?" Matt said "the pie is phenomenal, that's not the issue. The problem I'm having is the crazy way in which people are talking around here. I'm lost and confused and could use a little straight talk. John said, "Oh, I see. Well, it's like this kid, I know that you're lost, that's why you're here. That's why everyone is here. It's best to not overthink these things. Look, it's easy to make a bad decision in a world where bad decisions are easy to make. It's easy to make a wrong turn in your journey and next thing you know you're in a place like this."
John looked around and said, as if to speak to himself, "there are so many misunderstandings in the world." Matt replied, "what world? What world are we in? Or on? Where are we?" John said "I don't know where or how your story ends but I know where it begins. Right here, right now. You're going to finish that pie and that cup of coffee and you're going to get back out there on the road and you'll be well on your way. Don't worry about the bill, it's been paid for." Matt said, "by who?" John said "that's what I'm talking about. These are things you need to learn and you will, out there. There are no answers for you in here. The bill is on the house because it was paid for you long ago by someone you oughta get to know and I sincerely hope and pray that you do, if you catch my drift, and I don't get the sense that you do. Heck, then again how could you possibly know what I'm talking about?"
Matt said, "how and where would I meet him?" John replied, "You can meet him anywhere. He's everywhere and no particular place at all, at the same time. Think about that! Don't try and figure it all out. That will just make your head hurt. You don't have the right size calculator. That's like trying to pour all the oceans of the planet into your coffee cup. It wouldn't quite work, now would it? Wouldn't fit. Not enough room for it all. But if you do meet him you must tell others, once you find those answers. And it's not so important how you tell others as it is that you tell others. Just tell them it's been paid for." Matt had no idea what John was talking about. Matt finished his pie and coffee and left the diner.
As he was walking out, Maggie told Matt it was a pleasure serving him. She said "that's what it's all about you know? Serving." She said, "everyone deserves a nice slice of pie every now and then and a good cup of coffee to wash it down." She said, "I don't reckon we'll see you come this way again, but I'm glad you stopped in. It's okay to get lost, as long as you get back on the road. Don't veer off too much. It's dangerous out there. One wrong turn can take you places you don't want to go and keep you there longer than you want to stay." Maggie told Matt to be kind to himself and others.
Matt hit the road and the fog began to clear. He saw another comet. And then he saw a shooting star. Strangely, it suddenly became daylight, and Matt saw a rainbow. He saw many rainbows and cotton candy clouds. As he looked out the window he saw flamingos and peacocks and zebras and giraffes. There were red robins and bluebirds and orioles and whooping cranes. When he looked back at the road he noticed he had somehow found his way back to the exit he was supposed to take in the first place. When he arrived at his destination, he felt as though the whole strange experience was over before it even really truly began.