Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Romance at the Diner Counter (By Anthony Venutolo)
Deep down, Rebecca couldn't understand why she agreed to go out with a complete stranger. Even though she didn't want to admit it, the girls had a point. All she really knew about the guy was that his name was Steve and he liked eggs sunny-side up. Aside from that, he could be the Anti-Christ for all she knew.
It's been a long day and she was starting to get tired so when she saw Gus escort a party of eight into the dining room, Rebecca hoped he wasn't heading for her station. When he whizzed by her tables, she sighed, and thought maybe the job was taking its toll. From the second Steve left the Emerald City City diner, she ran his plain face through her mind over and over and from what she could remember, he was completely opposite from what she usually went for. He appeared somewhat unkempt, yet clean and was a man of decent size who stood at around six feet -- not a muscle man -- but a natural, everyday guy who appeared broad and strong. Steve also had the smooth complexion of a man half his age, but the brooding scowl of one double. Above all, he looked dangerous. Not menacing like a mass murderer or serial rapist, but the kind of guy that exploded with intense fury when pushed. Unfortunately, the 24 year-old waitress knew the type all to well. She just hoped this one was different. We won't judge this book by its cover, she thought. Yet.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror behind the diner counter and tried not to look. She was a mess and the one guy she had a crush on saw her at her absolute worst. Perfect. But then she remembered how honest he seemed. From the moment she took his order, she became amazed by his compelling stare. While most women would run at the thought of an ogling stranger, Rebecca was all too used to it by now and had acquainted herself with some of Las Vegas' weirdest while working there. Remembering big, sad hazel eyes that seemed so sincere and lost, she couldn't help but think Steve's simple-hearted peer was cute.
Rebecca grinned, because she knew what he didn't -- women always notice when a man is watching. Most of the time, though, she didn't watch back. In her two years at Emerald City, there wasn't a rap that Rebecca hadn't heard. The morons -- and that's what Rebecca thought most of them were -- came in a plethora of shapes, sizes and incomes. From the truck drivers who continually beg her to sightsee cross-country to the so-called "high-fashion photographers" who claim they could make her the next Giselle Bundchen, the painfully absurd stories they concocted day after day always amused her. Doctors and those casino execs, however, were especially sleazy and those were the ones she made a point to stay away from.
For example, every time Rebecca had a case of the sniffles, physicians would think nothing of asking her to go back to their office for a little "examination." She always politely declined, and usually said that she already saw a doctor. If they replied, "Oh, that's a shame. I wouldn't have charged you anything," she knew where they were coming from. As for the casino entrepreneurs? They were often in search of an armpiece. Nothing more. Whenever the vein business tycoons needed a flavor-of-the-month to tuck away in a strip condo, they'd slip Rebecca one of their glossy business cards. Always polite, she'd accept them graciously to secure a healthy tip but after they'd leave, the card would be tossed into an unused fish tank in the back of the diner. When you come down to it, they were mostly all the same. That is until Steve showed his face.
Here's hoping he was different. She couldn't wait for later and wondered where he would take her.
BIO: In addition to working as an editor at a daily newspaper, Anthony Venutolo's prose poems and flash fiction has appeared in the online zines Deuce Coupe, Gutter Eloquence, Zygote in my Coffee (both online and print journal), Shoots and Vines (forthcoming) and Six Sentences. He also has an upcoming chapbook of poetry forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press in 2010. His blog Bukowski’s Basement is chock filled with creative writing, musings, booze news and videos at http://bukowskisbasement.blogspot.com.