"Massive Bukkake Facials?"
"Three eggs with toast."
"Three eggs with French toast."
"Huge Fat Fucks?"
"Shouldn't it be freedom toast?"
"Sausage links, three for a buck."
"Customer restrooms in the rear. Wait-- Danza?"
"His First Threesome?"
"Cold cereal with milk."
"Porn Video Station?"
"Not even a jukebox."
"Sucking Cock for Monkey?"
"Sucking Cock for Money?"
"Don't serve it."
Charlotte stops and considers. The waitress had the misfortune
to approach the table and overhear her reading an email, still
displayed on her clam. Beryl covers her mouth and tries to conceal
a guffaw. The waitress probably doesn't have a link or a clue.
Spam? Don't serve it.
The waitress has the stern, chiseled face of a monument.
No, she doesn't have email. She doesn't get Spam. She doesn't
serve Spam. This is Crackers, god damn it.
Charlotte flips her clam closed, and the text display
snaps off. The offending list of specialty XXX sites disappears.
"I'll have the cold cereal with milk, the three eggs with
French toast, and the customer restrooms in the rear."
The waitress drops a key onto the table. The keychain
appears to be a two-by-four. Someone has meticulously woodburned
CRACKERS on the surface. The edges of the letters are smooth
and elderly, worn that way by ten thousand truckers, ten thousand
farmers. All had one thing in common. "And you?"
Beryl smiles as only she can. "Five dollars of sausage
Beryl smiles wider as she watches the waitress try to
do the math in her head.
"Something to drink?"
"Maple syrup." Beryl reaches across the tacky
table to grasp Charlotte's hand. "Make that two."
The waitress scoffs and walks away, as only heartland
crones can. The two young women watch her as she tears the order
from her pad and impales it on the counter looking into the
kitchen. The cook rips it loose and shares a moment with the
waitress; they both look over at Charlotte and Beryl.
"Ava Scott, age fifty-four. Been working here for
thirty years. She knows something. You?"
"She can't remember her social security number without
the following mnemonics: 1983, raccoons, flannel sheets, Subaru
Forrester. She has a collection of ceramic clowns."
They both look over at the waitress. She's replaced the
frightening mask she uses for out-of-towners with the reassuring
hometown warmth smile she reserves for locals. She knows what
everyone is having-- everyone who matters. Everyone from Hitch.
There's no need to treat travelers with even a modicum of respect.
The sign above the front counter, NO TIPPING, dissuades politeness.
"Think we can extract her?"
Beryl plays with the cream dispenser. The little lid
is a hungry mouth. It vomits white into coffee. Ava Scott hasn't
offered them coffee yet. She doesn't want coffee or cream. She
wants a robot mouth that shoots fire.
She nods. "She'll spill."
"Powder." Charlotte snakes out of the booth
and carries the key and its chained log to the door at the back
of the diner. LADIES. She wonders if she is. She knows she's
Beryl wonders if she's Thelma. She can't remember which
one was Thelma. That was when films were still film. All the
old movies have dissolved.
She slumps lazily down into the padded red booth, plays
with the real metal cutlery and real paper napkins jutting from
the dispenser. The metal of the fork is thick and strong, not
the discount real metal of cafeterias, the forks that bend when
wrangling gristle, the spoons so easily contorted with the faintest
brush of thought. There are four place settings at the booth,
and she sculpts the six unused utensils with a glance, tying
spoon and fork, knife and knife. She counts the grains of salt
in the shaker. She thinks out and feels Charlotte drying her
cunt. She thinks out and feels Ava's hot flash. There is a clatter
of plates and she knows it's on purpose. She's the eggs frying.
She's the toast Frenching. Five dollars of sausage links.
Charlotte returns, swinging the keychain like a cudgel.
She hops down into the booth, her legs under her. "There
was hair on the seat."
There are some looks at that remark. The faces are windburned
Two twenty-somethings, pierced with metal loops and wearing
fashion, 'Pods implanted and clams broadcasting, they don't
belong here. They aren't from Hitch. Hitch kids grow up with
the corn. Blue jeans and cowboy boots are okay. They don't laugh
at country music. They drive pick-ups. Two twenty-somethings
of the Privilege, they don't belong here.
Ava slams plates of deadly comfort food to the table.
She's brought two pots of maple syrup. Charlotte and Beryl will