The Waitress


originally published in Synthesis Issue #5, 1994

I don’t normally come into this place, but I’m too broke for Cory’s and Oy Vey is so tired. I’ve decided that once you pass the age of 25, a hangover now lasts for two days. I’m not one to frequent a diner, but I usually get a kick out of watching the people who promote these eateries. I’m forced to sit at the counter, with a neon yellow swivel chair supporting my body.

The ketchup bottle also has dried ketchup hanging from the sides, and my pepper shaker is missing. I look over at the gentleman next to me, and all his condiments are intact and untainted. This hand replaces my pepper, and asks if I’m ready to order. I jokingly ask if there are any specials. She grins widely, “Yeah, we have hamburger gravy over your choice of toast, with canned fruit.”

“And your soup is what, split pea with spam?” I throw in.

“Ah, no. It’s cream of phlegm.” Good answer. She grins widely. I look up. There’s this dishwater blonde with pale skin, a vitamin B-6 deficiency, and a tackle box face. (This is how I would describe the various hooks and hardware dangling from every orifice.) Still, she has a pulse and a personality.

Earlier in the week I has words with what I now consider my Ex… I wasn’t pining, but I needed stimulation. It didn’t matter if it was from a Kafka novel or a snappy diner waitress. I order. You have to wonder what a green and orange uniform do to you after a while. There’s food I don’t even recognize splattered all over her front side. Ten minutes later there’s food I don’t recognize peering from my plate. I can clearly see none of the food groups are represented, but if I put enough Tabasco on it it’ll be grubbin.

To my left there’s a lady talking to herself and telling the world that she saw a midget in the women’s restroom. The midget, she claims, has supernatural healing powers. She’s covered with crystals and smells of patchouli. I peer out and spot my waitress, she’s leaning up against the wall cackling with another worker. She sees me looking at her and strides over. “How’s the slop? After a few bites it’s not so bad. I know this place is somewhat of a loser magnet, but last week I waited on Morris fucking Taylor. That bastard only gave me 5 percent.”

I could tell she was full of stories. I looked up at her, and then it happened. We made that creepy eye contact. The no-bullshit, no looking away contact. Very probing. Very straightforward. She’s not your typical cutsie diner waitress, she’s an angry, sweaty girl. Still, she’s as caustic as I am, and that scare the hell out of me. She leans in and tells me she will be leaving soon and gives me my check.

Minutes later I’m outside. It’s starting to rain a little. I spot her smoking a cigarette by the phone booth. “Hey! Hey, give me a ride or I’ll put a hex on you!” Knowing I’ve reached my hex capacity well before the fifth grade, I open her door. She hops in and starts fidgeting with my air vents, spots some gum on the dashboard and starts chompin’ away. “I’ve made enough money today to have my boyfriend killed.”

There’s an awkward silence that follows, I’m not sure how to react. “I said…I’ve made enough money today to have my boyfriend killed.”

“Don’t kill him, put him to sleep.” I reply. “Nah, the prick’s too smart. Every time I get him into the car he knows right where we’re going. She grins widely, part serene/part fuck- you smug. I absent-mindedly pull into my driveway. She doesn’t say a word, just pops out of the car. I’m not sure what to do at this point. My key slowly penetrates the lock, and we step inside. “You have a cool place, but what’s up with the skull?” she asks. “It’s my ex-girlfriend I had to kill for having such a horrible overbite.”

“You think I’m kidding about my boyfriend, don’t you!” her posture and pursed lips carry a deadening sincerity. So, am I going to sit here and plot her boyfriend’s death, or screw her? “There’s good water in the fridge.” I tell her. She opens the fridge, and seconds later lets out this little Jan Brady scream. “No way! I think I have met you for a reason.” she says. “I don’t get it.” I reply. “The Visine! I thought I was

the only one who puts Visine in the icebox!” she claims.  “No, I think I was the one who started a trend with it. Everyone I know does it now.” I add. It’s like we had made this quirky little connection in her mind.

“There’s something you should know about me.” she says. I’m thinking the worst at this point: she lives in Oroville, no, her boyfriend is practicing some ancient Chinese ritual by having her sewn shut so no one can tamper with her while he’s out “The only way I can get off is by listening to Black Flag, and I think I should warn you now that my face isn’t the only area that’s heavily pierced.” She grins widely. WAITER, CHECK PLEASE!!! If I wasn’t in my own house I could easily have bolted out the side door, yet there was a certain challenge attached to her…

Lately I’ve had this insatiable urge to experience some strange. I had reached a point in my life where I was incredibly bored. “I’ve seen those dancer women in the bay area, with hoops and stuff hangin’ down there; it’s amazing what they can do without getting hurt.”  She starts looking through my CD collection. “I don’t see any Black Flag.” she blurts out. “How about Henry Rollins?” I suggest. “Doesn’t count.” she snarls. “I think I still have an old Black Flag album in my back closet.” I reply. “I suggest you find it!” And with that she makes her way toward my bedroom. I’m feverously looking through all my old albums: Flock of Seagulls, Violent Femmes…it’s getting scary…I thought I sold back my Grandmaster Flash album? My heart is racing…I dive for the phonograph, I grab my little raincoat, and begin to take off my clothes. She has no problem telling me what to do. I feel like I’m going to hell, like the guilt police are in my closet plotting my penance with my mom. Then she smacks me…I continue…she smacks me again. WHAT THE…

“The damn record is skipping,” she moans. This could have been an interesting, stimulating little adventure. Somewhere my ex-girlfriend has just cut the penis off her voodoo doll, and I’m going flaccid. My waitress starts laughing. I dismount. It’s raining pretty heavily now, the overflow is pounding ferociously on the pavement. The waitress lights up a cigarette. “That was pure comedy, I must thank you. You have a certain energy that I find stimulating. I’m glad we had this little adventure.” she says. I feel somewhat better, but a little frustrated at the same time. There’s something about getting that close to spewing your children, and then having the music fail you. It’s a guy thing, I believe.

I turn on the television. “DO YOU WANT TO MAKE MORE MONEY…” ah, it’s that fat Barbie doll gone wrong whiner from All In The Family. “GOD I HATE HER!!!” screams the waitress. “She deserves to die and have a pretend state funeral.” I add. We start going off on all the people who have television shows who we would like to see killed. “But the worst is the people on MTV!” yells the waitress. “That fucking Burger King meathead sports guy Dan whatever his name is. The world would be a better place if we didn’t have to consider him some sort of model for our youth. I would publicly humiliate him, shave him bald, and urinate on his face. Then I’d tie him up, put red ants all over his body, and watch him freak out for a couple of days!” she bellows.

Maybe it’s the way the dried whatever is still hanging from her uniform, or maybe it’s the way she painlessly quenched the cigarette’s life beneath her thumb… She grins widely. “Enough about Sally Struthers and Dan Cortez, I’m wondering if you can help me get rid of a little problem…


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