A Night in the Diner


by Michael Morshed

All night I sat in the kitchen, eyeing the chemicals under the sink. Marty always asks me how I could have so many cleaning supplies and such a dirty apartment. I like to ask him why he cheats on me and why he's such a dick.

I'm walking into The Diner now, where he says he met her, where he said she works.

They seat me in a booth across from a couple, next to the bathroom. There are photos on the wall, they're nothing, fluff that's supposed to make you not look at them.

"How are we, ma'am? What can I get you tonight?"

"Get me the waitress who just helped the table across the aisle."

That's how close she was to me.

Just a few seconds ago. She was taking the dessert order of the couple. She was excited about them wanting a slice of apple pie with two vanilla scoops. She approved. She wrote the order down. She offered to refill their coffees. Her ass is not as good as mine, but that could be The Diner outfit.

The waitress looks behind her. She too sees my girl heading for the kitchen.

"Sheila?"

"Yeah. Sheila."

"Would you like anything else?"

My phone is on the table and it's ringing. It's Marty again. His last message started with how sorry he was and ended with him pleading, saying he had been stupid and drunk. He is stupid and a drunk. I once found better, but better saw he could do better than me.

The photo I found in his wallet is under my hand on the table. I raise my thumb and pointer, glance at the photo then at the girl's face.

Sheila says, "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

It is her.

I slap my hand down on top of the photo. I smile. "I thought so but no. Eggs and bacon."

She writes that down.

I don't know how Marty could have gotten her. The girl before me though, she was pretty too. Whenever I say to him a girl is pretty, he says pretty girls are no good because they make things tough. He likes telling me that, and just leaving it there.

Her picture doesn't tell her beauty right though. She could have been stolen out of a Barbie factory. She's elegant, even in a drab, yellow and grey dress. Her ass is probably awe-some. It was definitely just the uniform.

"How would you like the eggs?"

"Do you know Marty Graham?"

"The country singer?"

Somebody is lying. She could be good at that. She's probably good at a lot of things.

"The cashier at CVS."

Sheila smiles. She purses her lips like she's gonna kiss the air. "No."

I hold up the photo. "He has this picture of you."

She takes the photo and does look confused by it. "This is my headshot. I'm getting into mod-eling."

That sounds right.

"I got it developed at CVS."

I ask a new waitress for my check. My plate has as much food on it as it did when the first waitress brought it to me. The only change is I burst the bubble in my sunny-side up egg. The yolk is cold and hardening in the grooves of the bacon.

The manager is staring at me while he organizes the menus. He has a stupid red tie on, a white office shirt tucked into black pants that circle his inflated stomach.

I wonder if he would sleep with me, if he looks at me and thinks, yep that's one I can get. One that looks like that.

The couple that ordered the pie are down to the crust and there's a half scoop left.

She tells him to finish it, and I think that's a good idea because guys watch a lot of porn and they don't want girls who are fat. They'll date fat girls. Make them their girlfriends, their wives. But they don't want fat girls.

The new waitress brings the check.

I guess they're expecting me to leave a tip. I'm not sure to who. It takes three women to bring me my food, one beautiful girl and one bad man to put me on a course to snap.

If that makes me weak, then fine, I'm weak. I don't know why anybody has any trouble ad-mitting that.

Under the sink, I taped a recipe on the shelf above the cleaning supplies. A few shakes of Ajax, one scoop of dishwasher detergent, two-parts water, one-part ammonia. A spritz of lemon, for the taste. That's what they say. Must be another fat girl who wrote that, if there's any concern for the taste. I don't have a bucket to mix it all in, so I tell Marty that's how close he is to being alone. $3.95 for a bucket.


BIO: Michael Morshed earned an MFA from UCR Palm Desert, and his stories have also appeared in The Whistling Fire. He lives in San Diego.