's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Xavier "

Submitted by Thegunheart

Xavier Cromwell's a name that probably doesn't ring any bells for you, but he's something of a local legend in my hometown. It's hard not to have respect for a guy who can combine a psychedelic mime act with surrealist painting, though I'm pretty sure anyone who reads that sentence is trying to figure out how. Well, sorry to tell you this, but it's not something you can really put to words. The work of Xavier Cromwell can only be experienced in person.

Okay, there was one thing he did that's easy enough to explain, but it was a little different from his usual work. For reasons known only to himself, that crazy mime opened up a theme restaurant. I don't really know where the money came from to do it; he might have been pretty famous where I'm from, but his work hardly seemed like the kind that'd rake in the kinda cash you could just blow on a vanity project like this.

The place was on the second floor on the corner of this little strip mall near the freeway. The windows all had this sorta mirrored finish to them, making it hard to see inside. There was only one sign, calling the place “Xander,” with no indication of just what kind of establishment it was. The only reason I knew the place even existed was thanks to a blog post from someone curious enough to check.

Inside, it was hard to tell if the place was really a restaurant or just another one of his art installations. All the tables were just slightly crooked, and no matter the size, there was only one stool bolted to the floor per table. The salt and pepper shakers were all fastened to the tables by a string, like a pen at the bank. I thought it might have been to keep them from sliding off the tables, but friction was doing a pretty good job of that.

But the real question they posed was why anyone would need them in the first place. See, there was only one thing you could order: melted cheese, served in a bowl. There were a few different kinds of cheese on the menu, but none of them were really types I recognized. At least, I'm pretty sure “Men's Fascist Delight” and “Summer Warehouse” aren't actual kinds of cheese.

No prize for guessing the place didn't even have a kitchen, just a booth in the corner where some college student takes your money and squirts some cheese in a bowl for you. Nice enough kid, but something always seemed a little...“off” about him. Like he was always on edge, as if expecting Xavier himself to burst up through the floor and scream at him. 'Course, I guess that's just what happens when you're paid(?) to work at a dive that's got one foot in the Twilight Zone where only one guy ever stops to eat. Can't be good for your nerves.

Neither could the décor, for that matter. I was used to it by now, but there's no denying that all the photos of Xavier adorning the walls were a bit much. The mime's face, with his wide eyes and signature “kissy lips” were already hard to look at, but each and every one had him completely naked, posing like a little girl.

I guess it's no surprise, being the fan I am, that I go to lunch there every day (I recommend the “Miner's Trebuchet”) regardless. I'm pretty much the only one keeping the place in business, though. I mean, who else wants to eat at some place where all they serve is crappy cheese while some naked mime stares at you from every angle with bulging, soulless eyes and swollen puckered lips?

Of course, even I couldn't really bring myself to look at the back wall for long. It was just like Xavier to post his face on every wall, but that one was taking it too far. It was a big, wall sized photo of him holding his own dried out face, putting a finger to his missing lips as if to shush the onlookers from screaming.