At the end of the street was a great pub for napkin-poetry-writing and lager and friends.
There was music on the floor and games on the television, booths for the family and
two-seaters for the couples. The food was bad and the service was worse, but the people were
good and the street was good and the view was deathly.
Picture a girl in black. Picture her red-tipped hands as they sucked on a lemon and
as they played with a cherry stem, put it in her mouth and tied it in a knot. Picture her
glasses, her freckles, her hands. Picture her mouth as she told silly jokes to a thankless
date, then wiped by napkins. Her eyes darted around like fish. Her eyelashes cast a shadow
over her cheeks. She tapped her heels to top forty hits. "Look," she says. "Look at that
view! Isn't that enough to make you want to just die?"
Across the room there is a door that swings back and forth, and there is a porthole
window cut just above eye level. Behind that door is a waiter, balancing precariously on his
shiny waiter shoes, just looking at her with his nose pressed up against the glass. "I'll
take number twelve." He says, and picks up his neat waiter pad. He puts it in his front
pocket. He checks his breath, he smoothes his hair and practices his smile. "Hi...I'm Mark
and I'll be your waiter...Hello, my name is Marcus and I will be your server...Hi, I'm Mark,
at your service." He mumbles as he puts on a grin and saunters out the door.
"Hi I'm Mark, I'm yours." He says, and his face turns red.
She laughs. "You promise?"
Redemption in the eyes of Marcus. The man orders for both of them, but the waiter
hears very little of it. "Would you please repeat that? I didn't quite catch it." He says
to the date while looking at the smooth line on her scalp. She looks up at him, his face is
reflected in her glasses. She gives her order; he hangs on the words. Would you mind
repeating yourself again and again and again? She smiles and hands Marcus the menus, and he
"What a nice waiter!" She says, elbows on the table, hands under her chin.
"Kinda stupid. Sometimes I wonder what you have to do to get a job at a place like
"At a place like this? Well, you weren't looking for a rocket scientist, were you? I
mean, they have better things to do with their time. Save the world or something." She says,
and hopes it goes no further. Another bad Saturday. Mothers have a way of making things so
more complicated than they need to be.
"So," he says, and crunches his ice between his teeth. "Why did you pick a dig like
"Didn't you hear me? The view is to die for..."
By this time, they were worrying. It had been an hour since they had ordered and the boy had apologized three times.
"Is everything all right sir?"
"Yes…everything is fine, but we have no food."
They got free bread out of it, and the boy walked away red-faced and embarrassed.
As long as they didn't talk to the manager, it would be ok. And maybe they'd never come back
again, and he'd never have to see her ever. As long as they kept the manager out of it,
he'd still have a job. And if he could remember what that man had ordered, he wouldn't be in
this mess at all. Spinach...linguine...twelve ounce roasted pepper...wedding cake...
They were quite obviously in love. It was written all over her face.
Little did he know her face always reflected love. She liked him. She liked him much
better than her date at least. She liked his corny jokes and his nervousness. She could
almost imagine he was nervous because of her. Corny jokes for her. Maybe he had calculated
the minutes between each visit. She did. She calculated her movements, her laughs, her
bends. "Can I have this boxed?" she asked, letting those bangs fall into her face ever so
slightly. Her mother had impressed upon her the flirting potential of all the features.
He mulled over those bangs for twenty minutes. He set a baked alaska on fire and
nearly burnt his hand. When he asked them later if they needed anything she bent over again. "A box. But don't overtax yourself."
The date lay his napkin in his plate and stood up. "That's enough."And then it all
seemed to go in slow motion. The date told the manager. Drinks were spilled. Marcus' ear
lobe squashed and pulled by his boss. The drink running down the table, dripping into pools
on the floor.
An hour later, downtrodden and bullwhipped came Marcus. Outside the pub, a few
people walked by, most in huddled pairs. Neon lights flickered. The lamplight lit the curb
and illuminated the little figure that sat on the bench. Marcus pressed his face against
the glass. It was raining big fat, decadent drops and each one reflected the street.
"Hi," he said and shut the door behind him. She held out her umbrella, but he didn't
take it. "I'm sorry about your dress." He said, shielding his head with his hands.
"I guess you want to give me a good one like your fiancée did..."
"Do I look like I'm old enough to have a fiancée?
He squinted. "You know what? You know, I don't even know. I just don't know.
You don't even look an age. You don't even look like you're from here. You...you don't look
like you're from this planet even! You look like you're from another dimension entirely." Rain dripped down his furrowed brow.
She was quiet for a long time and he wondered if she felt insulted. But she did not
move. "Well," she said finally. "I think you tried really hard. I mean, out of this world.
You told some really great jokes."
"Yeah, you think so?"
"Yeah, I think so."
He smiled and looked past her and into the wet streets. The neon signs were
reflected in the sidewalks. "Man," he said to her and pointed out into the world.
"Isn't that view a killer?"