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Friday, February 4, 2011

Dead Food

Floor Chart
  1. Richard- the couple                  6. Diane- the lifer
  2. Rachel- the couple                    7. Chief- the trendy guy
  3. Josh- the comedian                   8. Steven- the chill guy
  4. Jennifer- the party girl
  5. Angela- the weeded girl

It is Thursday night, about 30 minutes before the second shift begins.  Rachel and Richard are sharing a quick meal, at table 40, before their shift.  It was somewhat bothersome to Rachel that a discounted meal at her place of work now doubled as date night with Rich. 

Their relationship had budded at the restaurant and seemed like it was destined to end there as well.  They had been together a little over a year and had wasted no time moving in together.  Rachel and Richard started out hot and heavy.  They would go out with the crew after work, have a few too many drinks and then sneak off to the cheap, run down hotel next to the local bar.  While their trysts had matured into bottles of champagne, bubble baths and Egyptian cotton, a part of her missed the excitement and adventure of their carefree beginning.  Rachel wanted to feel sexy again and now that there were no more dirty martinis and raunchy hotels the danger was gone so was her lust for Rich.

“Hey Rach, Rich, what’s going on?” Jennifer asked, seating herself across from them with her coffee and unknowingly snapping Rachel out of her daydream.

Jennifer was usually nursing a hangover and it didn’t matter that it was early evening, her coffee was a must have.  Besides, she had only woken up an hour ago.   Jennifer was Rachel’s best friend and there wasn’t much she didn’t know about the couple.  Despite Jennifer’s reputation, Rachel trusted her.  She new Jennifer had few boundaries, but would never try anything with Rich. 

“So, did you here about Steven?” Rachel asked in a whisper checking to see who was in ear shot.  “Blake fired him last night!” Rachel exclaimed.

“Who told you that? What was he fired for?”  Richard asked with speculation in his voice.  Rich didn’t particularly care for Jennifer, he thought her to be a bad influence on his girlfriend, but put up with her for Rachel.

“Let’s just say a reliable source.  Blake found Steven with food he didn’t pay for in a to-go box inside his bag.  Can you believe it?  To be fired over a crummy burger.  That’s too much.  Steven said it was just some dead food from the window, but Blake called it theft and fired him.” 

Jennifer went on with the gossipy details of Steven’s termination as Angela sat down with her salad to get filled in on whatever was being whispered.  Rachel had forgotten table 40 offered a movie with dinner.

Richard was beginning to get uncomfortable.  He was cool with Steven and didn’t like hearing Jennifer, of all people, talk shit about him.  Rich spent many nights over at Steven’s studio making music and beats with him.   Steven came from money and had a talent he didn’t give enough attention to.  Rich was almost glad he was given the gift of termination.  Maybe now he could stay focused.  Richard chewed the last of his steak and walked away from the sewing circle.  Chief was walking over to the table with chicken wings in hand to join the group. 

“Hey, man, you can have my seat.  I was just leaving,” Rich offered, kissing Rachel on the cheek as he got up with his plate.

“Hiiiii Chief,” Jennifer flittered.  “I love your Gucci glasses.  They’re fabulous, but I didn’t know you had bad vision.”

“I don’t, they aren’t prescription, just a look I’m trying out.”  Chief explained rolling up his sleeves before digging in to his 10 piece. 

Rachel was rolling her eyes at the exchange when she remembered she knew exactly who Jennifer’s “reliable” source was.  Not too long ago Blake and Jennifer had a fling.  It was the most gossiped about scandal at table 40 for a month running.  The information about Steven had to come from Blake himself, which meant the fling was still going on.  They thought they were low key, as Blake could lose his job for sleeping with or even hanging out with a staff member.  Jennifer, experienced in these sorts of relationships, was able to keep a cool front, but really had nothing to loose.  Blake regularly flirted with the boundaries of fraternizing, but was a good enough manager that it hadn’t bitten him in the ass yet.

Still, it was moments like this Rachel couldn't help but be a little judgmental. Blake and Steven had gotten drunk together many a times.  Blake and Steven went sour the same night Blake supposedly ended things with Jennifer.  That was the night a drunk Steven took home an even more drunk and vulnerable Jennifer from the bar.  Steven did it mostly to get back at Blake, who was always giving him problems. Was Rachel to believe it was still policy that got Steven terminated only a few days later?

The night flew by with a steady flow of tables and no real problems aside from the usual battle with the kitchen and their questionable competency.  Angela was wrapping up her last table for the night.  The rest of the crew was changing clothes and waiting on her to finish up and head for the bar around the corner. Angela didn’t usually get to be a closing server, so she was trying not to complain or mess anything up after an almost flawless shift, but her nerves were getting the best of her.   

“Seriously, Cliff!  It’s been like 15 minutes on my dessert! Where is it?”  Angela asked with a great deal of frustration in her voice.

“It’s in the window yo!” Cliff shouts back.

“No, there is a brownie in the window! I ordered a chocolate cake!  Can you read?”  Angela was beyond frustrated at this point.  She just wanted to get her table their desert, cash them out and head to the bar.

“Oh, my bad yo, give me a minute.  The chocolate cake is frozen.”  Cliff said.  He didn’t care about Angela or her end-of -the night dessert.  He wanted to clean his station and go chill with the guys.

“Did I hear there’s a dead brownie?” Josh inquired, already headed for the plate.

“Yes, now there is.” Angela answered with sarcasm in her voice.

Now joined by the rest of the crew, they all looked to Blake the “firing manager” for the go ahead before indulging in some late night chocolate.

“Go ahead vultures.” Blake gives the okay, knowing they only asked permission because of the Steven rumors.

Everyone began tearing into the dead brownie; Angela even woofed down a few bites before shamefully going to her table to explain their dessert would only be a few more minutes.  She believed the few bites of brownie bliss would make her happy enough to forge a smile before approaching her table with bad news.

“I’m so sorry guys, but your chocolate cake is taking a little longer than usual.  I really can’t imagine what happened with it.”  Angela pleaded.

Angela couldn’t help but feel like the table was laughing at her.

“No it’s okay, we’ll just take the check, you enjoy.”  The lady at the table said with a smirk.

“I’m very sorry for this,” Angela repeated. 

Defeated, Angela walks to the office to have Blake take the chocolate cake off their bill.  Blake takes care of the dessert and hands Angela a napkin. 

A puzzled, takes the napkin and dares to ask, “What’s this for?”

“You may want to wipe all that chocolate off your face before you offer any more condolences to your table about their missing chocolate cake.”  Blake advises.

Angela felt as dead as the brownie that sealed her coffin.