[an excerpt from a work-in-progress]
I reek like cigarettes, but not in the good snap of a match, first drag way. No, from the way the lady just tucked in her chin and moved tables, it’s probably more the stale kind. Not my smoke, I want to tell her. I was out with the guys last night and have the same shirt on. I ran out of clean shirts this morning and it takes at least three hours down at the laundromat because the dryers are crap and you have to run them twice before anything’s even close to dry. The first time I didn’t know and it looked like my dresser had thrown up all over the place – boxers draped over the clock radio, jeans hanging over the TV. So fucking damp down here it takes days for t-shirts to dry.
I try to catch the waitress’s eye, but she’s busy windexing the pie case. From across the restaurant, Grace looks young, hot even, except up close you can see the lipstick bleeding into the tiny cracks around her lips. Smoker’s lips. Women get the raw deal on that one – guys get a cough, but chicks? They look old fast. And the nicotine turns their skin that weird pasty yellow they always try to cover up with makeup. They’re not fooling anyone. Not me anyhow. But I like her, Grace. She doesn’t really chat but sometimes gives me a beer if she’s opened the wrong kind for another table.
The menu has smeary fingerprints all over the plastic cover. Your basic shit – steak, burgers, fries, typical diner stuff. Sometimes, I get the liver. I don’t like it, not really, but Mom used to make Dad have liver at least once a month. Said it was good for the blood. I don’t know if that’s pure crap or what, but I figure it can’t hurt. I get it with a side of onion rings so it doesn’t taste too bad.
Today’s not a liver day though and I order a club sandwich. Grace doesn’t bother writing it down, just nods. “Pickle on the side, you got it.” She sounds like she’s chewing gum, but I don’t think she is.