The sign on the door read “All you can eat 9.95, Crab Legs extra”
Phil sat in a stupor. He’d been there for three hours already. Fourteen plates had come and gone. Now he wondered if getting crab legs would be worth the extra charge.
Other restaurant patrons either glanced his way and shook their heads or openly stared at him in horror. The front of his shirt was stained with grease drippings, flecks of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, apple pie, ice cream, and several unidentifiable spots. The trend was generally downward. Bits of food left their marks or clung to his clothing if they escaped his mouth at all.
The hostess glared at him. She had asked him to leave after the first hour. Then again after 90 minutes, two hours, and each 15 minute interval after that. She was tired of arguing with him. Phil stubbornly refused to leave until he felt he’d gotten his full measure of the buffet.
By all reasonable standards, he’d achieved that in the first 35 minutes. Five trips to the food bar, each resulting in a mound of food as high as the plate was round. The cooks in the back restocked the steamy bins after each of his forays. They shot pathetic glances his way as they trundled hot containers to the line.
Phil stifled a belch and stood up. All eyes in the place watched him as he leaned on the table for a moment, steadying himself. He turned and slowly walked to the restroom, planning on making room for more.