Chapter 4

The moment of truth had finally arrived, as Phil and Keely swung open the double-doors of, Country Cuisine. Keely was still pretty vague on what exactly Phil planned to do at the restaurant, but after a look at his determined face, she realized what his plan was.

"Keely, let's sit at that table over there. The one on the platform...in the corner of the restaurant."

"Wait, Phil, that table is only reserved for those who plan on trying to eat the..."

"Yeah, I know," Phil interrupted, confidently. "C'mon, let's hurry up before someone else decides to get there."

"Phil, trust me, I really don't think anyone else in here plans on taking that table..."

The two of them casually headed toward the corner table, sat down, and patiently waited for the waiter to come by to take Phil's "special" order. The table looked the same as it was the last time they came in, when that man tried to take on the monster-sized meal. It seemed that nobody else, since that night, dared to sit at the table.

A waiter came by to see who will be the next victim of the extra-large platter.

"Which one of you two is the challenger?" the waiter asked.

"I am," Phil announced, as he stood up proudly on his two legs. "I am the one who wishes to challenge the...Pickford Gut-Buster!"

The entire restaurant was filled with gasps and dropping forks. Everyone turned around and looked to see who wished to be next, to fall at the hands of the, Pickford Gut-Buster. They were stunned to see that a mere, puny, teenage boy agreed to the challenge. He was a sure bet to fail.

"I really hope you know what you're getting yourself into, kid," the waiter said. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"One-hundred percent," Phil replied. "I'm ready to see my picture on that wall of champions."

"Alright then, but don't say I didn't warn you," the waiter commented. "You're order should be done in about twenty minutes. Help yourself to some peanuts, but don't spoil your appetite..."

The waiter walked away with Phil's order in his hand, sealing his fate.

"Are you crazy?" Keely asked, still wondering what possessed Phil to take on the challenge. "Men about five times your size have tried to finish the, Pickford Gut-Buster, and all of them were never able to do it. You're just setting yourself up for failure...and a bill for fifty dollars!"

"Keely, I said I have this situation under wraps. This problem has been eating away at me for days now and I felt like if I didn't do something today, I literally was going to eat away myself. Trust me, Keel, I really think I can do this. I just need some support and encouragement from my best friend...can you do that for me?"

Phil smiled at Keely, as he rested his hand on her shoulder.

"You got it, buddy," Keely replied, smiling back. "Get out there and eat like you've never eaten before."

A handful of waiters came back, carrying Phil's plate, which was mounted with an endless supply of steak, onions, potatoes, vegetables, rolls and other assorted items. Sirens and strobe lights went off in the restaurant and a spotlight was shined on Phil. Everyone watched him, as he became the center of attention.

The waiter gave Phil his napkin, and his silver utensils of destruction. It was time for him to become immortalized, admired, remembered. It was time for him to become a Pickford legend and finally put his monstrous hunger to rest. A whistle was blown, which signified the start of the challenge.

Phil didn't hesitate to dig into his platter, tearing away at mouthfuls of food, slowly cutting away the mountain on his plate. Keely was sitting right across from him, giving him advice the entire time.

"Phil, don't take such large bites. Pace yourself, take decent-sized bites and don't forget to breathe, too. Geez, it looks like you're just inhaling the food, right into your stomach."

Phil nodded as he was eating, to signify that he got was she was saying. He slowed down and prevented himself from choking to death.

The minutes passed by, as an intrigued audience closely watched this...young kid, slowly consuming the meal. It wasn't too long before he had the whole restaurant cheering him on. Phil felt his confidence gradually rising with all the support.

Thirty minutes passed and Phil seemed to have taken a large chunk off his plate. Yet, he still didn't seemed phased, the least bit, by fullness. His overwhelming hunger drove him forward to keep on with his challenge.

"You're doin' great!" Keely exclaimed. "It won't be too long now before you get to pose for that picture to be put up on the wall."

By now, every single person in, Country Cuisine, including the cooks, were spectators of this eating show. Food was being burnt in the kitchen and customers' food was getting cold, but nobody cared nor noticed. The center of attention was on Phil, who possibly could be the first inductee onto the wall of champions.

Pieces of steak, potatoes and vegetables were flying off Phil's plate, as he soon reached the halfway point of his meal. He hadn't even touched his glass of water yet, unaware to him that it was there.

Now, forty-five minutes has passed, as Phil sped up his pace. It looked like he was following a pattern, like music...one, two, three...one, two, three...one, two, three. Not to mention that his face and bib were a mess, too. He looked like a moving abstract painting, but still, that didn't even phase him as he continued on.

A few more minutes had passed and Phil managed to eat away about three-fourths of his plate. A couple minutes after that, he worked his way into the homestretch. However, everyone noticed that his eating started to slow down. The pace that he had been following began to become irregular. Maybe, Phil was bound to fall at the mercy of the Pickford Gut-Buster, just like everyone before him.

Suddenly, Phil dropped his fork onto the table and collapsed over his plate. It seemed as if his raging appetite was finally tamed, but it was definitely the wrong time for it to happen. He still needed to finish the meal...he just had a few more bites to go.

"The challenger is down! The challenger is down!" yelled one of the waiters. "Start the ten count!"

Another waiter proceeded to start the count, "One!...two!...three!..."

"Phil, Phil, c'mon and get up!" Keely exclaimed, trying to pull him up. "You're too close to give up now...just a few more bites. C'mon!"

The whole restaurant began to chant Phil's name, hopefully to give him enough strength to get up and finish what he started.

"Six!...seven!...," the waiter continued to count.

Phil was still unable to get up, even in the midst of all the crowd's chanting. The platter just appeared to be too much for him to handle.

"Eight!...nine!...," the waiter was getting down to the end of the count. The audience gave up hope on Phil, knowing that he was surely down for the count. It was all just a matter of hearing that final ten to signify that it was officially over.

"Te...," the waiter was interrupted, as his arm was stopped from swinging down.

"Don't count me out yet. I still have room for dessert," Phil said, humorously, as he got back up to finish his plate.

Phil felt suddenly rejuvenated and filled with vigor, as he attacked every last morsel of food on his plate. Building up every last amount of willpower he had, he took that long-awaited, final fork-full of steak and loaded it into his mouth, making history. Phil swallowed it and stood up on his feet, with his arms in the air.

"Do you believe it, folks!" the waiter announced. "This kid has made Pickford history! He is the first person ever to conquer the Pickford Gut-Buster! Let's give him a hand everyone. I mean, this is unbelievable, he truly deserves it!"

Everyone got up and gave Phil a loud, standing ovation, including Keely, who stuck by him the whole time.

"You did it, champ!" Keely exclaimed, winking at Phil with a smile on her face.

A photographer came and took the historic picture of Phil, to put on the wall of champions. He definitely wasn't looking his best, but he really didn't care. Soon after, a news reporter came by for a quick interview with him.

"Phil, you've just accomplished the impossible and consumed the biggest meal in Pickford. How do you feel?"

"Well," Phil replied, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but for the first time in days, I'm actually full..."