- Vol. 02
- Chapter 06
My third toe on my left foot is needling me with sharp shots of pain from a new blister. The heat and everything else is making my feet swell. I lean against the counter. “Table 15.” “Martha.”
Oh god. On a Wednesday? He never used to come in mid-week. Until he did that night and now I can’t get away from him.
One crab claws, one burnt-orange brulee. I know the dishes sitting on Table 15 and that’s why I can’t bear to clear them. I push a glass under the ice dispenser, buying time. When the first one is full I take another empty and also fill that to the brim with cool, square cubes. I place the glasses on the counter with a bang and look up at him brightly. “Douggie!” His pupils are like pin-pricks in his pale blue eyes. “Table 15, Martha.” “I got it.” I tell him, smiling and brushing against him heavily with my body just to shut him up.
One crab claws, one burnt-orange brulee. The plates have been sitting for more than two hours. Whoever ordered the food did so before my shift. I can’t imagine how I missed them but it’s getting harder to keep it all together these days. I catch my reflection in the window. The seams on my pink and white waitress dress are straining to be let out but there’s no more fabric left to give. The sight of the crab claws and the orangey-waterlogged dish hits me deep inside. Like a baby kick when the tiny flutters stop feeling cute and start to seem more like a warning shot. I rest my hand on the back of a chair. Just for a moment, as I know Douggie’s watching. The orange sauce has congealed into a kind of blood or brain matter or a mixture of both. I stack the plates and head back to the kitchen.
A wolf-whistle cuts through the open window and I turn instinctively, only to see the smiles of the college boys fade as I turn. I wonder if they knew Jon. There’s a flake of crabmeat on the plate under my thumb. It feels like flesh. Who was eating Jon’s meal? The one he would order each Wednesday. It would often be just the two of us enjoying the food, the company and the quiet. Mickey T tips his hat to me as he leaves. With his back to Douggie, he asks me if there’s any news on the hit and run driver. The driver who killed Jon. The one who left his bones broken, teeth shattered and eyes unseeing. I shake my head while the baby inside me turns cartwheels. “Hang on in there, Martha.” Mickey T squeezes my shoulder on his way out. I’m holding the plates so hard my fingers are white. The baby keeps turning, moving me on and it only stops somersaulting when I turn towards Douggie who’s saying “Bring that bump to Daddy”.