Age Rating: 18 +
Author's Note: This was written by myself and my good friend Geordie. I was asked to help him with a short story for his English class, but wound up writing mostly all of it. So, here's our collaborated piece. WE got an 88% :D
When I was sixteen years old, I got a job at a very nice restaurant called “Penny’s.” It was located on a very swanky boulevard off the main street, squashed between a gas station and an apartment complex. Since its opening two years ago, it soon made its way to the 'Top 20 things to do before you die' list. The waiting period to get into the restaurant was ridiculous, with people forced to make reservations months in advance. Not only does the restaurant have a good reputation for its food, but it’s known as the one restaurant where seemingly happy couples go to break up.
It was my first week working there so I was not accustomed with its reputation yet. I did not believe it possible for people to flock to one location for the sole intent to end a relationship. Could people be so cruel, to both themselves, and the restaurant?
My first encounter with the myth happened on my third day of work. It was a peaceful, calm and sunny day. Around me, my coworkers ran around, straightening cutlery around plates and smoothening the wrinkles out of the white tablecloths. I peeked outside. Ten minutes till the doors open, and there was already a line bending around the corner. As time ticked away, I stretched, cracked my knuckles and got the reservation book out, anticipating the chaos that would ensue in just a few moments. I looked up at the clock, its hands ignorant of the repercussions of its labor as a little bell pierced the air. Show time. The doors opened, and one by one, people walked in, anxious to feed upon the food acclaimed to be made by the gods and passed down to the mortals. Through the sea of customers, I spotted a particular young couple as they rushed towards me.
“Reservation for Mr. Stevens,” said the man. He looked to be in his early twenties, with short blond hair, and a goatee. He was wearing a dark suit and matching black tie, with the look on his face of a man prepared for anything.
“Will that be in the smoking, or non-smoking section, sir?” I asked as I skimmed my finger down the page full of scribbled names to find his. At that, the woman standing next to him piped up.
“Smoking, please.” In sharp contrast with her boyfriend, she was wearing light-colored clothing; a pink blouse and white skirt with a dark red scarf around her neck.
I lead them to their seats at table 7, and asked if they would like anything to start off with, maybe a salad or a drink. As Mr. Stevens was about to open his mouth and order, his girlfriend said, “No thank you, we’re good for now.” In an undertone she didn’t mean for me to hear, she asked him sternly, “Don’t you think, Joe, that you’ve drunk enough already?”
“Here we go again, Anna,” he replied, rolling his eyes. She was about to defend her statement, but I walked off before I could hear what she had said. As I left, I saw Joe pulling at the collar of his gray dress shirt uncomfortably. It was time to leave these two alone, and seat another customer.
The next client in line was a tall muscular man who seemed to radiate royalty, respect, and wisdom with his cleanly shaven face and straight posture.
“Good afternoon, sir. I am Mike, and I will be your waiter this afternoon.”
“You’re new around here, aren’t you?” asked the gentleman.
“Just started, actually,” I replied, hoping something I said didn’t give him the impression I was too young for this line of work.
“I come here often, and know most of the waiters that work here. Your face is one I haven’t seen before.”
“Laurence Rivers.” Even the name sounded royal.
“Follow me please, sir. I’ll find you a table.”
I looked around the busy dining room for an available table, but none seemed vacant until I spotted the one next to Joe and Anna’s table. Mr. Rivers followed me to his table. I was waiting for him to take his seat when I could not help but overhear the couple’s conversation next to me.
“I don’t know why you’re getting so worked up about this honey, it was harmless,” replied Joe.
“I don’t call checking out another girl while on a date harmless!” Anna replied hotly, glancing angrily behind her where a pretty red-head sat alone at a table.
“What do you want from me; I’m a guy for God sakes! That’s what guys do. We don’t mean to, but it’s how we’re wired.” He unbuttoned his collar and loosened his tie.
“Don’t give me the “it’s a guy thing” excuse, because it won’t work on me. It hasn’t in the past, and it certainly won’t work now. Especially not now.”
I handed Mr. Rivers a menu and asked if he wanted anything to begin his meal with. He glanced at the menu for half a second before ordering a chicken salad with a glass of wine. He called it his usual entrée. I reached for the menu he was folding but my thoughts once again wandered to listening in on the couple by us.
"Just order what we always get, and get this over with," Anna said impatiently, and I heard a match being struck. A torrent of smoke erupted from her ruby lips, her lipstick leaving a ring of red around the filter of the cigarette she had just lit.
Mr. Rivers chuckled at this, and pushed the menu against my hand, making me grab hold of it.
"I come here as much as possible just to watch young love split at the seams. It's a delight to watch, but don't make eye contact. Surely, one of them will want your opinion, or you to take their side. Now hurry, and get me that chicken salad before you get roped into something, boy."
“Waiter,” Mr. Stevens called to me, grabbing the sleeve of my shirt. Too late, I thought. “Two plates of Risotto. And a bottle of the strongest alcohol you’ve got.” Mr. Rivers smiled at me.
I returned to my post to return the menu to the now greatly reduced pile of menus, and went to the kitchens to announce my order. I was eager to return outside to see the developments between the couple I had seated at table 7 and urged the cooks to work fast.
Several minutes later, I went back with Mr. River’s entrée and a bottle of whiskey.
“What do you want, I’ll do anything!” pleaded Joe. Another puff of smoke emanated from Anna’s mouth. On my way to Mr. Rivers, Mr. Stevens noticed I was approaching them, and seemingly on a whim of desperation pulled me to their table and asked me, “Do you think it reasonable for your girlfriend to break up with you over one night with another girl?”
What I thought or not on the issue didn’t matter, and I did not want to become part of the argument. As it is, he almost caused the wine to spill. To change the subject, I said as I glanced out the window, “So much for the nice weather we were supposed to be having.” Outside, the wind had picked up. It was evident in the way the trash floating around in midair before being whipped from sight. The clouds, as we could see between skyscrapers, were moving closer together and darkening, almost completely blocking out the sun.
There was no response to my comment. I looked in Anna’s direction, and felt relief wash over me at the fact that looks could not kill, and that her deadly green eyes wouldn’t cause my heart to explode.
“I’ll return with your meal soon,” I said quickly as I placed the bottle down on their table before I turned my attention to Mr. Rivers.
I placed the salad bowl down in front of Mr. Rivers and then the glass of wine. His smile was even wider, and he motioned to the couple next to him.
“He crying yet?” asked Mr. Rivers as he chuckled. I shook my head. “Give it another two minutes, and here will come Niagara Falls.”
“I’m sure they’ll work it out,” I replied, unaware of my own naivety.
“Kid, when you’ve seen as many break-ups as I have, you know that one of them will end up in tears, if not sooner, than later. I’ll bet you ten dollars he’ll be gone by the next time you serve them their main course.” He stuck out his hand.
“It’s a bet,” I said, feeling a bit mystified as I shook his strong hand. I arrived at the kitchen to retrieve the Risotto for the couple. I looked outside the small circular window leading to the outside world. The clouds had gotten to be a dark gray color now, and were thick like cold pea soup. Any minute now, the skies would open, and release its pent-up tears.
I came back with my trusty tray full of plates, but once I neared table 7, I realized that it was not needed anymore. The couple had left. I approached their table to see the ashtray was full, and the bottle of whiskey was empty with two used glasses; one with a ring of red lipstick around the rim. A bundle of cash sat in a pile near the edge of the table. I collected it, and as I turned to leave, I heard a voice behind me with a mocking tone say, “Pay up.”