We sit in a booth in some dingy, small town diner. A waitress brings our order as we sit in silence. She glances from one to the other of us. I think she wants to say something, but Guy has a pretty fussy look on his face. She’s a good waitress. She leaves our food and skedaddles. A burger with fries, two eggs over easy and toast, and a side salad with French dressing are sit in front of Guy. He is already sucking on the straw to a large chocolate milkshake with whipped topping and sprinkles. The waitress leaves me a BLT with a side of fruit cocktail.
Realizing she has left without kissing his ass, Guy yells after her, “Hey! Can I get a Coke!” Then he starts wolfing down his burger.
“Her name isn’t ‘Hey.’”
“What is her name, Smartass?”
“Her name is Irene.”
I say it quietly to myself. I know he hears, but he doesn’t say anything when I say, “And my name is Colleen.” I notice that our names rhyme, me and Irene, but I don’t point that out to him. I give myself some credit for not pointing out the rhyme. It all makes me smile, and I pick up the top of my sandwich to put mustard on it.
“What is that?” Guy asks in a way that makes me not want to answer.
I brace myself, “It’s a BLT.”
“Where’s the bacon?”
“I don’t like bacon.”
“Who doesn’t like bacon? Nevermind. Whatever. How ‘bout why would you order a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwichif you don’t like bacon?”
The waitress returns and drops off Guy’s Coke. She looks at me, not him, when she asks, “Is everything okay?”
“There isn’t any bacon on her BLT.”
I shoot a glare at Guy and then offer a smile to Irene. “Thank you. Everything is terrific.”
Guy ignores me and says to our waitress, “Irene, what did you do with the bacon from her BLT? Who gets it? Am I still getting charged for that bacon?”
“I will go check on that for you, sir.” Irene turns and walks away. Like I said, she’s a good waitress. A smart one.
Guy eats the other half of his burger in one bite and says with a mouthful of barely chewed meat, “I don’t like her.”
“She can tell you’re not going to tip her.”
“What? I don’t look like a high roller?”
I shrug. “Whether you roll high or not has nothing to do with it. You’re a narcissistic sadist. And narcissistic sadists don’t usually tip well.”
“Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me. You don’t think a guy will tip well so you act all snooty to him. I suppose I could stiff her…if that’s what she wants.” Just like a narcissistic sadist to not even acknowledge I’ve called him a narcissistic sadist.
“She only gets paid like two bucks an hour. She lives off of her tips. Not that you care.”
“What? Are you an advocate for waitresses now…or maybe you are a waitress yourself?”
“I’m just saying you shouldn’t punish her for the system she works in.”
Guy sits back, looking down his nose at me. “One, Colleen, I’m not punishing her for the system she works in. I’m punishing her for being a snooty bitch. And two. You are a waitress, aren’t you?” He pauses here, trying not to grin. He is enjoying this too much. Narcissistic sadist. He pauses—to make me sweat a little—before he asks, “Do you wear a nametag? Do you keep pens in your hair and sweaty dollars down your cleavage?” Another sadistic pause before he goes in for the kill. “Does mother know?”
I don’t answer him. It wouldn’t do any good.
“That’s okay, sis. We all have to slum it sooner or later. Nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not ashamed of anything. And you know what. Not that it will shut you up or anything. But I really don’t want to talk to you anymore.”
Guy has done everything but lick his plate clean. He’s looking all pleased with himself. “Buck up, baby. I’m all you got right now. Looks like it’s my way or the highway.”
“I’ll take the highway.”
“Funny,” he says as he stands up. “Let’s get rolling.”
I don’t jump when he says jump. I don’t move at all. He doesn’t like it when things don’t go how he wants them to. He wants to make his grand exit, and I’m fucking that up for him. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just hate him right now. It won’t do any good. He will win, but I can at least piss him off. Still.
“This is not the time or the place, Collie. Let’s go.” He reaches down and grabs me by the arm to pull me out of the booth. I watch as some of the others turn to gawk. This makes it worse for me. Worse for everyone, probably. Sometimes I don’t care. But I probably should.
Irene tries to come to my rescue…or maybe she’s realized Guy is trying to leave without paying. “Hey!” she calls out. Then over her shoulder towards the kitchen, “Clay! Get out here!”
Hey and Clay rhyme too, I think as I let Guy push me out the front door.
“Just a minute, Irene,” Guy hollers back at her. Then, to me, with his bedroom eyes turned to snake eyes, he says, “You wait in the car. I mean it. Don’t fuck yourself here. Get. To. The. Car.”
He leaves me standing in the parking lot. I can see shadows past where the sun reflects on the glass windows. I hear angry voices. I almost go back in. But I can’t do it. I find myself walking to the car, closing my ears to the sounds that will only haunt me more. I put my earbuds in and turn my music up loud. “Come on Eileen” helps me to lose my brain to the thoughts that pummel me from all directions, my fears and my worries. But I still manage to note to myself that Eileen also rhymes with Irene…and Colleen.