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© I. A. Phillips

The Foot-Man

Gadville, Georgia’s sole addition to the official Universal Gus's Fried Fiddles Ban List was Markus Gibraltar, the Foot-Man. The story passed down through clerks’ and managers’ whisper that he terrorized the clerks and customers until drastic measures were taken against him. Corporate doesn’t like to allow sharing of any stories about the list and remained adamant on keeping closed lips. That doesn’t matter to everyone else in town. It’s much harder to come across someone who doesn't know about Markus in the small community.

Unsurprisingly the story starts with Markus. Markus was the owner and founder of Gibraltar’s Gymnasium. His personality was no winner. Immature, arrogant, relentless, and headstrong, he bulldozed what was in his way rather than stepping around. As a professional gymnast, he had more than enough muscle to back his intentions. Most people in town stayed away from him.

Somehow he managed to hold onto his high school girlfriend, Kaylee Madison. Like her boyfriend, Kaylee devoted a slice of her day to the gym. But unlike Markus, Kaylee was mature, kind, and caring. Needless to say, much of the preferred her over her boyfriend.

Marcus wasn’t a good boyfriend from an outsider’s point of view. He tried to keep constant tabs on her, commonly shot off at her and considered alienating her from all other boys at school. Just one of those things is enough to send some girls running, but for some reason Kaylee stuck around with Marcus, constantly pushing back against his selfish, and rude demands. Honestly, it was a tragedy it took her so long to break it off with him.

Their breakup, even years after school, was big enough to send ripples throughout the small community. He stormed into the Gus's Fried Fiddles where she was recently hired the regional manager. He came in raving for Kaylee. When she came in from the back he jumped forward, shooting off how she betrayed him, how he wouldn’t forget this, and that he would get even before slamming his way out of the store. It was an act of strength for her to stand there and take that verbal abuse especially since he wouldn’t let her get a single word in. It didn’t take a genius to understand why she broke up over text.

A week went by before Markus reappeared at the store. He came in an hour after the lunch rush entering by walking on his hands, and waving his flip flopped feet in the air for all to see. On sight Kaylee screamed and ran into the back. As if on cue he lowered himself onto his feet before approaching the clerk with a smirk. Calmly he ordered a bucket of fried chicken, waiting with a silent smile for them to prepare his food. Once he got his bucket he sat at one of the tables facing the clerks. He took one of his flip flops and waited.

When Kaylee returned she instantly caught sight of Markus, who was now eating his fried chicken with his feet. Kaylee froze in place, eyes wide, and mouth gaping. Markus kept direct eye contact as he ate his food, slowly furrowing his brow. Some of the staff and other customers started to laugh at Markus’s funny way of eating, but not Kaylee. Eventually, she couldn’t take it anymore and ran to the back, where she stayed until Markus finished his lunch, and left triumphant.

One concerned coworker after another approached Kaylee after her ex left asking what she was so scared of. Once she sufficiently calmed down, quietly, she admitted that she was scared of something others found normal; that she had podophobia, the phobia of bare feet. The co-workers who had laughed were flushed with guilt, as they understood what Markus had done.

When Markus came back the next day he repeated his stunt, though this time one of the employees warned Kaylee, and kept her in the back. Some of the other customers laughed, but none of the staff did. When Markus left that day, he was steaming. The day after that he came again, this time not silently like the first two times. Kaylee hid in the back again. The fourth day he came again. One of the clerks tried to tell him to leave but was too intimidated to follow through with the command. For nearly two weeks Markus showed up without fail. Slowly he got more aggressive and disruptive with his behavior. It started to get so bad that other customers weren't showing during “Gibraltar hour”. Inside the other employees banded together to help and protect Kaylee, while on the outside stories of the “Foot-Man” were scoffed at as rumors.

One day during one of Markus’s tantrums the county sheriff entered the restaurant to see a large man sitting on one of the tables violently drooling over himself as he ate with his feet. Confused the sheriff scanned the restaurant for an explanation before spotting the frightened staff. Confident he understood enough of the situation he calmly walked over to the disgusting man eating with his feet.

One of the employees dragged Kaylee over to see what was happening. She turned to the lobby as Markus was getting shoved onto the table, double handcuffed by the sheriff, one pair on his hands, and the other on his feet. Once Markus was properly subdued, the sheriff turned to the staff nose bleeding, and shades cracked to get the full story.

Sheriff McCormick collected copies of the security tapes from before and took statements from the staff while he waited for backup. He told the staff that they should have called the police the second time he came back. The staff meekly agreed. When the second and third officers arrived they lifted, then carried a humiliated Markus out of the restaurant both pairs of handcuffs jingling with every step. McCormick followed shortly, but not before receiving the lunch he came inside to get, with no charge.

Gibraltar was formally banned from all locations the next day. His unflattering mug shot would make it easy to identify him if he ever showed up again. After a mandatory psychiatric evaluation Markus was diagnosed with an intermittent explosive disorder, and court-ordered to stay away from Kaylee, and her place of work. While the restaurant won’t confirm any of the stories, they have an unofficial rule inside that patrons are only allowed to eat fried chicken with their hands, and nothing else.

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