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Phantom Diner

Phantom Diner

This excerpt is from Spooky Washington by S.E. Schlosser

A couple were driving through Spokane, Washington one evening.  They were hungry and tired and needed a break.  Unfortunately, they were also broke.  The wife went through her purse and the glove department and under the seats of the car, trying to drum up enough spare change to get them some kind of meal.  She’d collect about eight dollars in quarters, dimes, nickels and a few dollar bills when her husband called her attention to a sign post reading: Steak and Eggs – $3.85.  It was attached to a motel-diner combination in downtown Spokane. 

     Well, Steak and Eggs sounded much better than fast food to the hungry couple.  Armed with their quarters, they parked the car and went into an old-time diner.  It was a bit run-down, the kind of place laughingly called a greasy spoon.  But the food smelled delicious and the place was packed with customers.  And the prices on the yellowing menus were just as good as advertised.  But the couple had Steak and Eggs on their minds, and that’s what they got. 

      The service at the diner was excellent, the food equally so, and the bill, when it came, was only $5.  The husband blinked at the low cost and – checking it – found the waitress had only charged the 85 cents for the second meal.  The husband immediately called her attention to the error – happy to pay full price for such excellent service, even if it meant spending their very last dime to do so.  The waitress thanked him for showing her the error, but explained that the restaurant’s policy was to charge customers only what was written on the bill, even if the server made an error. 

     Impressed, the couple paid the low bill and went back on their journey, but not before picking up a brochure for the attached motel.  This was a place to recommend to their friends! 

     And the couple did recommend the diner and motel in Spokane.  Many times over.  Until the day one of their friends who was familiar with downtown Spokane questioned them closely about their experience.  He’d never heard of a motel-diner combination in the area they’d described, nor of a restaurant by that particular name.  The wife dug out the brochure, and he did recognize the name of the motel. 

     Puzzled, the husband called the number on the brochure and asked about the attached diner.  To his amazement, the staff member who answered the phone told him that the restaurant attached to the motel had burned to the ground many years before the couple had visited Spokane.

     Apparently, the couple had eaten Steak and Eggs at a phantom restaurant populated by friendly ghosts!

Copyrighted content: This is a retold folklore story by S.E. Schlosser, who owns the copyright. This version of the story may not be reproduced, reprinted or used in any other way without the permission of the author. Teachers may link to or photocopy this story as part of their classwork.

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.