Creative Writing

In the Diner

Angus wants to eat at the same little restaurant again. Choices being what they are in a small town, a town with a population under 4 thousand, Angus is going to get to eat where he wants. Given that he hates to run, his life’s moto being why run when you can drive, he stuffs the car into the closest spot to the door. Refusing to move faster than a walk he ambles into the restaurant mumbling about heart trouble.

The diner itself is small, and it boasts a cozy family atmosphere.

Angus could walk down the aisle to the left to avoid the server who is bringing meals to a crowded table, but something in his nature won’t let him. He has to walk the same way he always does, he can’t stray from his routine. It is so ingrained in him that he doesn’t even notice there are other options as he forces his way through the narrow isle.

He prefers a table instead of the booths, it offers more space and better views. His customary table is free. He doesn’t notice the staff as they give a slight sags of relief in their upper bodies when he slides into his table, or the silent thanks they give for this one scene that has been averted.

He takes 30 seconds to look over the menu. He is an impossible dinner guest, but tries to play the role while thinking to himself no spices, no veggies, well raw carrots are okay. Nah, no vegetables.

Angus orders. “Fish and chips please,” he bellows closing the menu. “But, no seasoning on the fries. None, nothing. The fish needs to be crispy, maybe fry it twice.” He looks straight ahead with a slightly satisfied smile.

He sits back and reaches for his Samsung silver and black flip phone, and he speed dials his office feeling anxious because he has been away for ten minutes. It rings, and it rings, but he gets no answer. He disconnects and types a group message inquiring about what’s going on, and with a slight hesitation he sits the phone down beside him. He looks at his diet coke fizzing in front of him and flags the waitress down. “Can you bring me a ginger ale, I should have ordered a ginger ale.” She smiles and nods. However, as she walks away he yells, “no ice, NO ice please,” at her back.

He shifts in his seat trying to position the weight he carries around his middle in a more comfortable manner. He picks up his cell again, and punches the letters to correspond with “order me a bigger uniform please.” He sends it to the office secretary with the requested size.

The waitress arrives with his ginger ale. He looks at it. He smiles at her. “Can you change that to a diet coke please? My bad.”

He picks up his phone. Where is everybody? Something must be going on! “Is my order almost ready?” He bellows glancing at the door. The waitress stops shifting her eyes onto him, assessing, it wouldn’t be the first time he just gets up and leaves without eating his meal. Oblivious to her stare, Angus turns back to his phone and she disappears into the kitchen.

A plate of steaming hot fish is plunked down in front of him. The first fry into his mouth is unpleasant. His face screws up and he pops one more fry into his mouth to be sure. “Hey, HEY,” he yells. “There is seasoning on these. I can’t eat them. No seasoning!” The waitress looks exasperated as she clears the fries from his plate promising to bring him some fresh ones.

He picks up his phone and types a new group message, “They seasoned my fries!”

Every step of this has played out like a well-rehearsed song and dance from her sweeping the fries onto a plate she had close at hand to him typing his message before she had even walked away. Clearly another well-known idiosyncrasy in his routine.

Just as he is putting his last bite of fish into his mouth his new fries arrive. “How was the fish?” She asks.

“Well, it was soggy actually, and cold.” He indicates a small pile of discarded batter on his plate. The waitress says nothing as she removes the plate from the table, and he thinks nothing of it as he absently starts eating the new fries. “These have seasoning on them,” he announces to nobody in particular, but he eats them anyway.

By Shari Marshall – 2016

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