"Movie Night at the Diner"
Martha tried not to scowl in disgust as she approached the two young men at the end of the counter. The skinny one was hunched over, his face six inches from his Denver omelet, bony elbows spiking into the air as he shoveled in slabs of ketchup-slathered hash browns. He sounded like a rutting pig, snorting and smacking as he chewed to satiate himself. The heavier, dark-haired one was holding a half-eaten hamburger in one hand while he leaned back and pointed his pimpled nose at the ceiling. With his free hand, he'd flip a French fry through the air, trying to catch it in his gaping mouth. He missed the shot more often then he made it, and there was a scattering of strewn fries growing under his stool.
"Can I get you boys some fresh sodas?" Martha said. She reached for their empty glasses even before she finished asking. She knew they'd say yes. They were guzzling Mountain Dews as fast as she could bring them; they'd already finished their third glass each.
Without looking up, the skinny kid nodded and gave a loud mumble through a mouth of food. The dark-haired one flung a fry and then lowered his chin to squint his glassy red eyes at Martha. "Huh? Oh yeah. That'd be great."
The forgotten fry bounced off the head of the skinny kid, and he raised his head, his questioning face punctuated with glazed eyes and flecks of potatoes on his cheek. Martha turned away with their glasses and heard them both explode in a cacophony of hemp-fueled laughter.
Martha shook her head as she filled the glasses from the soda dispenser. These kids were going to monopolize the counter, make a huge mess, and probably leave her squat for a tip. Hell, she wouldn't be half-surprised if they tried to dine-and-dash when her back was turned.
She hated working the graveyard shift on Fridays. Most of her regular truckers didn't come in on the weekends. There was nothing but stoners and drunks who staggered in after the bars and clubs had closed, and they rarely tipped worth a damn.
These two had stormed into the empty diner just after one-thirty, before the normal last-call crowd, all jazzed up about the midnight movie they'd watched. They kept talking about how awesome it had been when "Neutrino Man" had risen from the grave to kill and mutilate the high school kids who'd defiled his hidden resting place with their after-prom party. Stupid macabre Hollywood crap, as far as Martha was concerned.
She returned the refilled drinks to the kids. The dark-haired fry-flicker had finished his burger and was drowning the remainder of his fries in ketchup. He nudged his buddy. "Dude, you remember when Neutrino Man chained the big jock to the table saw, and then wired the saw to the jock's car so the saw started when his girlfriend tried to get away?" The skinny kid mumbled and nodded. "Man, that was so awesome," dark-hair said, a goofy smile on his face as he enjoyed the recollection.
Martha frowned. These damn kids thought make-believe dismemberment was quality entertainment.
The skinny kid pulled his face away from the remnants of the omelet. His eyes were wide and he had a huge grin; discussing the movie seemed to invigorate him. "Yeah," he said. "Or when Neutrino Man tied the cheerleader to the bed, filled her room full of gasoline, and then rigged the fuse to her vibrator? Now that rocked!"
Martha crossed her arms. An incendiary stimulator. Jeez. How stupid and disgusting could these movie-makers get? Somehow they'd convinced these kids that it was cool to watch a bunch of simulated gore, snuggled safely into their padded seats, snacking on popcorn, and surrounded by Dolby sound.
These kids had no idea.
She strolled into the kitchen and whispered to Marvin. "We got us a couple at the counter."
Marvin was sitting on a chair next to the grill, resting between orders. He lifted his head from his newspaper, the scars across his face grinning at Martha. His mouth curled into a matching smile.
Martha took the razor-sharp 9-inch chef's knife from the block and tucked it under her apron, then winked at Marvin. He winked back, then stood and took the butcher's cleaver from the hook. "Give me the signal when you're ready," he whispered in his heavy, gravel-rough voice, and then headed for the back door and the dark parking lot beyond.
Martha walked back front to stand behind the counter, watching the kids finishing their meal, her hand tucked under her apron, gripping the knife, a smile on her face.
Let's just see if these damn kids try to leave a crappy tip.
Then they'll get to star in their own movie.
Martha smiled wider.
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(c) Copyright 2011, Christopher J. Fries.