WEDNESDAY MORNING, 3 A.M. (OVERHEARD AT THE GUNGA DINER VERSION): In which those who don't like spoilers and don't know what this might be about shouldn't click any of the hyperlinks.
Diner1 (forty-ish male, paunchy, tweedy, vague, earnest)
Diner2 (thirty-ish female, brunette, athletic, upbeat, intense)
Diner3 (ageless male, curly ginger hair, taught, drawn, pale, unkempt)
Diner4 (ageless male, bald, perfect, naked, blue, luminous)
Diner4 -- (appears suddenly at the booth where the others are sitting.)
Diner2 -- Jon! Thanks for coming.
Diner4 -- Of course.
Diner2 -- You remember Dan and Rorschach.
Diner4 -- It would be more accurate to say that I am always already aware of them.
Diner1 -- Hi, uh… Jon.
Diner3 -- (rising) Doc. Hi. Order squid. Bathroom.
Diner2 -- Oh, come on. We’ve barely said “hello,” and it’s been years!
Diner1 -- Just let him go. No use, really, arguing.
Diner2 -- Yeah. Sorry. Not exactly the life of the party anyway, right?
Diner3 -- (walking away) Heard that. Order squid.
Diners1&2 -- Sorry! Squid! Right! Sorry.
Diner2 -- (whispering) You just had to reassemble him?
Diner4 -- He is necessary.
Diner1 -- Laurie, he’s a friend, after all.
Diner4 -- And necessary.
Diner2 -- Necessary for what, Jon?
Diner4 -- This.
Waitress -- Hi folks. Welcome to the Gunga Diner. What can I get everyone tonight?
Diner2 -- Oh, hi. We were just… yes. Let’s see. One squid plate…
Waitress -- We don’t have a squid plate.
Diner2 -- Of course you do. You always did.
Waitress -- No. Sorry about that. Our new management cleaned up the menu a little bit. The squid plate’s out.
Diner2 -- Oh, um… okay. He said squid. How about the Cold War Calamari and Kim-Chi Salad then?
Waitress -- I’m sorry. No. I wasn’t clear. There’s no squid at all.
Diner1 -- None? The, uh… Penn Station Squid Steak? That’s out?
Waitress -- Nope. I mean, yes, it’s gone.
Diner1 -- Wow. I guess I could just have a burger. I don’t really want a burger…
Diner2 -- And there’s no more Telekinetic Calamari Soup? That egg-drop thing you do with the tentacles?
Waitress -- There’s a regular egg-drop soup.
Diner2 -- No tentacles?
Waitress -- No tentacles.
Diner1 -- I… wow….
Diner2 -- Psionic Squid Sandwich? With the spicy Sriracha sauce?
Diner1 -- Signature dish, there. You can’t possibly…
Waitress -- No. I’m afraid not.
Diner3 -- Back. Hello waitress. Squid plate. One.
Diner1 -- Oh, god. Rorschach...
Waitress -- I was just telling your friends that the menu has changed.
Diner3 -- Hurrm. Changed. Why?
Diner1 -- Rorschach, there’s no squid.
Diner3 -- No? NO!!
Manager -- Is there a problem here?
Diner2 -- No, sir. It's just that our friend here really liked the squid plate.
Diner3 -- (hunched, squinting, jumping) No! No no no! No no no no no no no!
Diner1 -- We all did, actually. Well, not the squid plate in particular. But that sandwich…
Diner2 -- And the soup. I can’t believe you took out the Calamari soup!
Manager -- Well, there were some big changes when Pyramid Holdings took over the chain. I’m sure you noticed how we’ve brightened up the place! A little younger. Up to date. Tightening up the menu just helps keep the new Gunga Diner on point.
Diner3 -- Squid plate! Manager. Now!
Manager -- I’m sorry sir, how about...
Diner3 -- Now!
Diner2 -- Rorschach, you can’t... Look, maybe he’s taking this a little too seriously, but we all had our favorites. Even you, right Jon?
Diner4 -- Yes. Angel hair pasta. With vegetables. Tossed in ink. Nero di seppia… Nìvuro di sìccia...
Manager -- Look, the kitchen had to take a thirty-minute right turn every morning cleaning that stuff, preparing it sixteen different ways. Corporate felt that section of the menu had become anachronistic, and explaining it to the customers would be a real distraction for staff.
Diner1 -- It was, ah… more of a centerpiece, really. Not a distraction at all. Central, sort of, to the whole experience.
Diner3 -- Central! Necessary!
Manager -- Sir. Please. In re-imagining the Gunga Diner, we came to view the squid as an arbitrary artifact of the pre-millennial socio-geography of the original franchise – unique maybe, but really just a quirk of the old place that had become almost incomprehensible to customers in our new target dining demographic.
Diner1 -- So it’s gone. The whole thing. Just like that?
Manager -- We had to compromise.
Diner3 -- No! Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise!
Diner2 -- I... I don’t know guys. I mean, I don't want to spoil the night. But maybe Rorschach’s right this time. Without the squid this place might as well just be another CGI Friday’s.
Diner1 -- Ouch.
Diner2 -- …no offense, Jon.
Diner4 -- None taken.