While the woman in pearls looked vaguely horrified, the severely underdressed man across from her barked out a laugh, pounding the table with the flat of his hand. The wine in their glasses jumped, sending little drops soaring over the rim to stain the satin tablecloth a bloody red.
“Well,” the man said, “you’ve got me convinced. I’ll have one of those with some fries.”
“Excellent choice, sir. And for you, madame?”
“May I have the Caesar salad, please?” Her voice sent chills down the waiter’s spine. Kevin’s hand shook while he wrote down her order, unsure if he would be able to read it later.
“Absolutely. That’s a great choice, it’s one of my favorites.”
The woman smiled back at Kevin while the man, presumably her husband, glared at him. “Well, boy, you’ve got our order, are you going to bring it to us, or are you just going to stand there gawking?”
“Um, oh!” Kevin shook himself, remembering where he was. “Absolutely, I’m sorry about that. I’ll have those right out for you, sir.” He smiled, bowed slightly, and scurried away.
The kitchen called to him with a voice only his nose could hear. This was Kevin’s first job, and he felt damned lucky to have it. Every afternoon he stepped into the restaurant and inhaled deeply through his nose, closing his eyes with the sheer pleasure of it. The smell from the kitchen was better by a long shot.
Kevin shoved the door open with his shoulder and waited for the laughter to die down. Guns ‘N’ Roses played softly from the radio hanging from a wire rack.
“Alright, Chef, it’s time to go hunting,” Kevin said.
“Hit me,” Chef said around a toothy smile.
“I need a bloody Frenchie and a Roman, ‘taters with the frenchie.”
“The guy’s a dick, huh?”
“He isn’t so bad, it was just a long day at school.”
“Girl problems?” Chef folded his thick arms across his chest, seemingly unaware of the sous-chef and his underlings scurrying around him.
“I tell you, it doesn’t get any easier with age. I’ve been married twelve years, I still don’t understand a damned thing my wife says or does.”
Kevin chuckled, scratched his arm nervously.
“Do you want to know the secret, something that will help relieve all that extra tension in your gut?”
“When you go back to the table to bring that jackass his food, take his fork. . .” Chef paused, watching an expectant smile creep up on Kevin’s face. “And stab him with it. Serves him right for messing with my new favorite waiter, eh?”
Kevin laughed, unsure how to respond.
“That’s more like it, kid. Now get outta here, go check on your tables. I’ll have your food out in a few minutes.”
“Thanks, Chef.” Kevin turned and pushed the door open with his shoulder, not touching the door with his hands just as Chef had taught him, with a genuine smile plastered on his face.