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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Zachary Wilhide: The Waitress

92_ym_thewaitress_bholtzman.jpg
Art by Bernice Holtzman 2022

The Waitress

 

Zachary Wilhide

Jackie hesitated as she listened to the Johnny Cash impersonator murdering “Folsom Prison Blues.”   “You picked this place? For our special night?” she asked. 

“It’s just what we need to get back on track.  Let’s sit down and relax, listen to the music and enjoy ourselves,” Tommy said.   

“Alright, you’re trying.  I’ll give you that,” Jackie said as she wiped grease off her menu with a paper napkin, “though I wish you had maybe tried a little harder.”

She was about to continue complaining when a nubile waitress sauntered over to their table.

“What you would like, honey?” she asked Tommy, who fumbled with his glasses and stuttered out something that sounded like a food dish.   “And you, dear?” she asked Jackie.  “I’ll have whatever he ordered dear,” Jackie replied.  

“So, back on track?” she asked Tommy after the waitress had swiveled her hips back to the kitchen. 

“What, yeah, just wasn’t prepared for her…accent, that’s all.  Hey, I have to hit the head. Just be a second.”

Alone, Jackie sat and took a few deep breaths.  She let herself relax into the hum of conversations and the off-rhythm musician. She had just centered herself when she looked over and saw Tommy flirting with the waitress.  He was stroking his mustache like a silent-movie-era rake and his hand was on her lower back. She was laughing that salacious little laugh that some women are born with that’s pregnant with possibilities.

“I see you had to get more of her accent,” Jackie said, when Tommy slid back into the booth.  

“Oh, we were just having a laugh.” 

“Whatever you want to call it,” she said, snorting derisively.  “I thought we agreed you weren’t going to do stuff like that anymore.”

“You agreed and I capitulated.  There’s a difference. Your eyes are beautiful when you’re like this, you know,” he said, winking at her.

Jackie snorted again, and just before the conversation could escalate into a fight, the waitress came over with their meals. 

“The waitress thing still bothers me,” Jackie said a few minutes later, between mouthfuls.  “It was disrespectful.”

“To her?”

“To me, asshole.  You come in here with me and hit on her.”

“I didn’t think it would matter; thought we were secure enough in our partnership.”

“Ugh, I hate that word “partnership” it makes us sound like an insurance agency.  We’re in a relationship no matter how much you deny it.”

“If you say so,” Tommy said.

“No…no, don’t you do that. We have every major facet of a relationship: Trust, honesty, spontaneity…commitment.”

“Says the magazine. Here we go again.”

“You’re impossible sometimes.”

Tommy shrugged and motioned for the check.  

 “Thanks, honey,” Tommy said as the waitress handed him the bill.  “The service was spectacular and made tonight even more special.”  Tommy winked at Jackie and touched the waitress’s hand.  The waitress blushed. 

“You’re just an asshole,” Jackie said, checking her makeup with a small compact mirror. She frowned and brushed a loose strand of blond hair behind her ear.

“I know, but that’s what makes this thing work, right?”

Jackie rolled her eyes and slid her compact back into her purse. 

“Alright, you ready to do this?” Tommy said, sliding toward the edge of the booth.

Jackie reached into her purse and removed a small, shiny .38 pistol and a polyester bag with a sunflower screen-printed on the front.   “I am ready.”

Tommy nodded and pulled a 9mm out from behind his back.  “THIS IS A ROBBERY! WALLETS OUT, PHONES OUT, HANDS VISIBLE.”

The restaurant chatter stopped and the Johnny Cash impersonator’s strumming screeched into silence.

“No, you can keep playing,” Tommy said to the Cash impersonator, gesturing with the gun.  “I like having a soundtrack. Feel like I’m in a Tarantino flick.”

As the frightened restaurant patrons reached into their pants and purses, Jackie went from table to table politely collecting valuables, holding the bag open like a mendicant.

At one table a guy awkwardly tried to dial for help on his cell phone.  She stomped on his hand just before he could press “Send.” He screamed as her heel crushed the bones in his hand and tears escaped from the corners of his eyes.  Jackie bent down to collect the phone and whispered in his ear.    “Don’t cry, honey.  She’ll think you’re a pussy,” she said, gesturing toward his date.

She was going to say something more when she noticed that the music had stopped.  Across the restaurant she watched as the musician crept behind Tommy holding his guitar like a mallet.  Tommy was otherwise distracted frisking the waitress for her tips.   “Situational awareness, asshole!” she bellowed.  

Tommy turned and ducked just as the guitar came swinging for his head.  Tommy countered with a left hook and discount Johnny Cash fell to the ground, lain out as flat as his singing.  Jackie sighed as Tommy fixed his rumpled suit and stuffed the wad of the waitress’s crumpled bills into his pocket.  “Well, honey,” he said, tucking the 9mm back into his pants, “when the music stops it’s time to go.”  

When they got to their car Jackie removed her wig and her contacts, once again becoming blue eyed and brunette.  Tommy removed his false mustache and threw his glasses into the backseat.

“Has the music stopped for us?” Jackie asked a few miles down the road. 

“What do you mean?  We just had a great night.”

“I know…it’s just… the waitress, I saw her give you her phone number.”

“She gave me her address too.”

 “Oh,” Jackie choked, tears clouding her vision.

“I noticed she was wearing some expensive jewelry when she took our order and found out her father owns the restaurant when I was coming back from the bathroom.  The restaurant we just hit was one of four in this city alone.  I was thinking we could swing by their house for your birthday.  See what kind of shiny things we can find. I wanted to wait and surprise you.”

Tommy reached over and squeezed her hand.  “I told you, we’re back on track.”

“Oh, baby,” she sighed, leaning back in the seat and watching the night unfold before them.  “I told you we were in a relationship.”

##





Zachary Wilhide is a writer and artist who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with his wife and cat.  He has previously had stories published on Out of the Gutter OnlineSpelk FictionClose to the BoneYellow Mama Magazine, and Shotgun Honey.  He is currently building an art portfolio and working on a novella, slowly.



Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022