The waitress who worked the tables in the dining room that afternoon must have been in her late thirties. She only had two tables left. One of them had three old-timers who were discussing the snow blizzard that ‘had taken everyone by surprise in Moses Lake. The other table was occupied by a young man with a close-cropped beard who ate a piece of cherry pie and played with his car keys.
All the time he followed the waitress around the room with his eyes, and she noticed this. She wasn’t flattered by it; it wasn’t that kind of look. She was just aware all the time of the hole in her shirt at the shoulder and the fact that her shoe heels were worn down at the back.
The waitress used to work in Drummond, Montana. The Cartwheel Cafe proclaimed her home-baked muffins the best in the state across billboards along the highway. Now she worked the Quality Inn, Spokane. This was a career move, although it didn’t feel like one. She worked under her manager, a short French man. He was five foot three and balding and wore an obvious toupee. His wife was from Seattle, a tall woman with a head of fine, auburn hair. No one could understand how they had gotten to be a couple. It just looked too unlikely.
The waitress didn’t get on with the Frenchman. He kept asking her to wear more make-up when she liked, in fact, not to wear that much make-up at all. She knew a time would come when there would be an incident: he would tell her to put on more lipstick or something and she would tell him to back off.
That afternoon she was doing overtime. She was filling in at the stoves in the kitchen, waiting for Karen, the chef, to come in on her shift. She had some eggs on the go, in boiling water. When she came to take the eggs out of the pan she noticed that one had broken. The white albumen had stiffened into a distorted erection. She served the one egg up and carefully swabbed the other with a paper napkin. Then she took an eyeliner out of her purse and with it drew two eyes on the eggshell above its rubbery member and left it on the side of the stove for Karen to see when she started her shift.
She went back to the dining room. The three old-timers were still there. So was the young man, his cherry pie finished.
She went over to the table.
‘Sure. I’ve got a Buick Sedan in the parking lot over there. You want to go for a ride?’
The waitress took the empty dish back to the kitchen. She took off her apron and left it in the rear office where she knew her manager would see it. This was it. She carried the boiled egg with its protuberance and cushioned it in the folds of the apron with a hastily scribbled note: ‘Remind you of anyone?‘
She went back into the dining room, over to the young man’s table.
‘Okay,’ she said.