Chapter 1: Alice

It’s 4:55pm. I know I’m gonna be late so why bother rushing. I really should start leaving the house earlier. Oh well. At least I look good today, better for tips. No one gives tips to a girl with dirty hair and zero makeup. I made sure that I did my hair and makeup today. Not only because I have the dinner shift but it is Saturday aka; date night and that is tip city central. 

I am going fast enough to not get a ticket, when I hit a yellow light and I stop. I know this light well. The yellow only lasts for about five seconds. I slow the car down to a stop when I hear a slight buzz coming from my phone. I reach down to check it almost assuming it’s my boss Jeremy, wondering where on Earth am I? That is how he talks, kinda like he’s stuck in the 1950s. But to my surprise, it is not Jeremy but Todd. My soon to be ex-boyfriend. I say soon to be ex because we don’t seem to want the same things out of life. I look down at the text and it reads:

“Hey! Hope things are going ok.”

Before I get the chance to text back, the light changes and I am off. I park and walk into the restaurant. Why bother to run when I know that I am late. Just as I am clocking in Jeremy sees me. 

“Alice! 5:20… Tardy again. If you don’t clean up your act I may have to give you the morning shift,” he says as he is wagging his finger at me, like I’m a dog that peed on the carpet. 

“I’m so sorry. My car didn’t want to start, and I ran out of gas and…” I say gasping for excuses, but Jeremy cuts me off. 

“Enough!” He says smiling. “I’m just teasing…sort of. Just don’t let it happen again. You are in the B section tonight.”

“Roger! Be out in a jiffy” I say, winking at his dated vocabulary. 

He doesn’t hear my sassy remark, as I go searching for my notepad in my locker. 

7:00pm rolls around, I notice a couple walk into the restaurant. It must be their first date. She is wearing a tight black dress, classy and elegant. It fits her well. She looks like she is in her early to mid-thirties. I love that she is wearing patterned shoes with red lipstick. Her date is dressed very snappy with his dark features. He is very handsome, well for an older man.

Jamie seats them in my section on purpose. She hates me because she thought I was trying to get ahead by flirting with Jeremy. She knows that first date couples make me super uncomfortable because they are awkward with everyone they encounter. 

As I walk up to the table I notice the man pull out the chair for the woman. That must be nice. I can’t remember the last time Todd did that for me. 

“Welcome to the Heart and Soul Bistro. My name is Alice and I will be taking care of you tonight. Can I take your drink order?” I have this down so well; I could do it in my sleep. However, I can tell they have never been here before as they are stumbling over the vast menu. I try and help them. 

“Might I suggest some wine or champagne maybe?”

The man stares at me like I am a four-headed hydra. 

“No alcohol for me but maybe for you? I’ll just have water.” He says as he gestures to the woman.

She nods and squeaks out the words white wine.

I comply and walk away. We are packed tonight. Saturday nights and I have a love-hate relationship. Lots of tips but hard work. 

I go to the bar and tell them I need a white wine. 

“Anything for you, cutie!”

The men behind the bar are always flirty. I guess it is hard for them to turn it off. The flirtier they are, the better the tips they get. 

I run to get the water and grab the wine on the way back to the table, when I notice something a little unusual. The first date couple are talking to one another. Normally when people are out at a restaurant, they are attached to their devices. Talk about living in Black Mirror. Eventually, we will be texting each other across the table. But this couple is different. They are talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. It is refreshing to see people engage; especially on the first date.

I place the drinks on the table and list off the specials for the week. The woman orders the chicken lemon risotto. Bold choice. She is who I want to be on a first date. She orders a meal; not a salad. The man orders our signature New York strip with herb-butter rub that we make in house. 

As I leave I see how infatuated with each other they are. I wonder how they met. He seems like he works with his hands all day, but the woman is hard to read. She is confident in herself, which makes her more attractive than she is. Not that I am saying she is ugly, but she isn’t drop dead either. I guess she is average in her looks, but she doesn’t seem to mind that. At least she knows how to dress her body type. 

I put in their orders at the kitchen and work my other tables. Table by table. My night goes on. The first date couple are acting like lovesick teenagers; no one and nothing can bother them. I glance at my watch. 9:37pm. I smile and shake my head. I head over to their table to make sure everything is going smoothly.

“Is there anything else I could get you? More wine maybe?” I gesture at the woman.

She nods and smiles at her date.

I head over to the bar and ask for another white wine. The bartender gives a rehearsed flirt and I walk away. 

The crowd thins with time and the only customers left, are quickly finishing up to hit the bars. As the time creeps up on the 10:30 mark, I think to myself, there is only about thirty minutes left of my shift and if the first date couple finishes soon, I can clean and be out of here by 11. Jeremy is nice like that. If your section is clear and clean on the night shift, you are free to go. The first date couple is my last table for the night. 

“Is there anything else I can get you?”

“The check please. Alice.” The man says in a low voice.

I am surprised he remembered my name. I feel like a child who just got surprised by ending up at Disney instead of the dentist. As I bring the check over, the glance at my watch that reads 10:40pm. I can still make it out of here on time. 

I start to wipe down my empty tables when I see him put a MasterCard in the black envelope. Darn it. I hate MasterCards. They always take forever to work. It’s not the customers fault. It’s the finicky system that we use here. It takes me three tries to get the card to go through. I walk back to the table and wait for them to leave as I finish cleaning my tables. 

I come to the first couple table and look at the tip and think this must be wrong. This is impossible. There is no way this is right. I mean I have been tipped in many ways, high, low, normal but never this. 

I sit down and try to gather myself and find a logical explanation for this. 

“Alice? What’s a matter? Bad tip?” one of my fellow waitresses, whose name I can never remember, exclaims.

“Actually, quite the opposite. They gave me a 250-dollar tip.”

My co-worker looks at me like I just struck gold. She grabs the bill from my hand and examines it very closely like she is Watson and I am Sherlock. She starts to flip over the bill when I see some writing. 

“Wait! Give me that!”

I reach for the bill and on the back is written:

“Thank you so much for the exceptional service. My wife and I had an amazing time. We have passed this restaurant several times and thought we would try something new for our anniversary. We have decided to continue to dine with you on our anniversary, and always ask for Alice. You remind us of someone we used to know… Here is a token of our gratitude, do something fun Alice. The Suttons.”

TO BE CONTINUED

FOR MORE OF THIS STORY PLEASE GO TO PATREON

The Perfect Man

I am the mother of Ingrid Charlotte Webber. She is six years old. Cute little blonde in a red dress with so many fake necklaces you can’t even see her neck. So many fake bracelets you can’t even see her wrists. She is my life. My love. She is all that I am. She is a flirty little child who thinks that true love really exists. She keeps telling me she wants to get married before she turns ten. What a ridiculously cute idea.

 

I was like that once. Full of hope and love until he showed up. I thought he was my knight in shinning armor. We met in high school. I walked into world history and there he was. It was like when lighting strikes a tree. Electric. What we had was an erotic love. He would speak I would become weak in the knees. He made me feel like the most important girl in the world. He was everything. He was beautiful. He was perfect. He–was married. He had been married for fifteen years. He talked about his wife all the time in class. Damn he would never shut up. But once he kissed me he stopped talking about her. Everyone thought he got a divorce; except me.

 

But everything changed when I got pregnant. He told me to get rid of her. Told me I had the rest of my life to get pregnant. Told me I had to go to college. Told me I couldn’t tell her. Told me that he wouldn’t help unless I got an abortion.

 

I said no. No. It was a sign. Sign that she needed to be born. A sign that she would change my life. Sign that she would save my life and she did. But I am a single mother who just turned twenty-two. But some how I don’t feel like my life emulated that Taylor Swift song “22”. Because she thinks it is magical and wonderful to be twenty-two. Well Miss Swift I happen to disagree with you– completely. I am a single mother at the age of twenty-two and what is fun about that? Will everything be alright if I keep dancing? I doubt it. I doubt dancing to Barney the dinosaur with a six-year-old will make everything alright.

 

But maybe I should go out and party. I mean you are only 22 once right? I keep hearing about this app called Tinder. I should download it to my iPhone maybe I will get lucky. Maybe I will find a husband or at least someone fuck. God knows it has been a long time since I have done the deed.

 

***

It has been a few days since I got Tinder. I am on my lunch break just swiping left at the lack of prospects but then he came up. He is twenty-four and his name is Jared. I swift right and then Tinder tells me I have a match. I send him a message asking him to maybe get dinner. Odds are he won’t answer but who knows. About five minutes he messages back saying he would love to. Unbelievable. I have a date with a beautiful young guy named Jared. We are meeting up on Friday. I said we should meet there. I don’t want him to know that I have a six-year-old child. That is usually a cock-block. I am looking in my closet looking for something to wear. I think I am going to settle on my cute -but sexy- black dress. I grab my keys and say good-bye to Ingrid and the babysitter and head for the restaurant.

 

***

He ordered white wine for the table. Not only his he charming, but he his smart as hell. He is also funny. It has been a while since I have had this much fun with a person of the opposite sex. I am glad I wore my nice underwear; cause you never know. He still doesn’t know about Ingrid and I don’t think he will. At least not yet.

 

He grabs the bill before I can even say anything. True gentlemen. But I feel bad because I asked him out. I try to grab the bill but he pulls it away from me. He tells me that I can pay next time. He is so slick and I like it.

 

He is walking me to the car and he leans in to kiss me but I have word vomit and say “I have a six-year-old child”.

 

He looks at me and says “I love children” and kisses me.

 

This kiss is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It is like getting into a warm bath after a cold day. It is like watching a sunset with your lover. It is like seeing the ocean for the first time, and smelling the salt in the air and feeling the hot sand in between your toes. It is like eating mint chocolate chip ice cream on a hot summer day and licking the ice cream before it drips on your fingers. It is like seeing a baby smile for the first time. There are no words to describe how magical this kiss is.

 

We say our goodbyes and I get in the car and turn on the engine. The radio turns on and 22 comes on. And I begin to believe in true love again.

When the Devil meets an Angel

Shots fired and the light goes black.

***

I wake up and I don’t feel. I am looking around for Eva, but I don’t see her. I look up and see a bright light in the sky, but it not the sun. Where am I? I am looking for anything to tell me where I am; anything at all. Just as I try to stand I hear a voice.

 

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

 

“What?! Who said that! Show yourself coward!” A woman comes out of the shadows. She is wearing simple cloth like those animals would wear. Then, I look at her arm and see the symbol of a Jew.

 

“Get away from me, you filthy pig!” I can’t believe I am in the same place as a Jew. They are not even human, they caused everything. I would rather be dead than share the same air as a Jew.

 

“Do you want help? I can tell you where you are, but you have to calm down.” I look at it for a minute and realize that it looks familiar. Weird, I don’t know any of those pigs.

 

“And I have a name. It’s Sarah. If you want my help please don’t call me a pig ever again”

 

“Where am I woman?” I am done with its tricks. The Jew probably doesn’t even know where we are. It’s just playing with my head like all scum do.

 

It rolls those slimly lying eyes.

 

“We are on Earth…kind of.”

 

“Enough! Where the hell are we swine!” Just then, it walks away. Damn Jews are so sensitive. I can do this myself. I don’t need help from a lying piece of filth. I try to get my footing and as I stumble a bit, a little girl helps me. What a sweetheart, not like any of those Jews. She is a cute little girl, blonde with blue eyes. Perfect.

 

“Thank you sweetheart. Do you happen to know where we are?” She doesn’t say anything but she nods her head.

 

“Can you tell me where we are dear?”

 

“We are in Genem”

Funny, I have never heard of that country before.

 

“Okay. Can you tell me how to get out of here?” I am losing my patience. This why I didn’t have children.

 

“You can’t. There is no way out. Sarah should have told you that.”

 

She looks perplexed. Her face is contorted like an acrobat at the circus. She grabs my hand and leads me to a building with my favorite symbol on it. I really should get out of here so I can get back to the liquidation of the scum. As we walk into the building I notice that something is wrong. Something does not feel right, almost like I stepped into a shrine. I cross myself just to be safe and as I do, the little girl turns around and smiles a devilish smile.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

She doesn’t say anything. She just keeps walking. She leads me into a room filled with—my stuff?

 

“Wait here.”

 

I sit in my favorite chair and I wait. About an hour goes by and the little girl still hasn’t come back. I stand and walk to the door but it is locked. I begin to look around at all of my things and marvel at all that I have accomplished. Just then, the door unlocks and in comes Eva. She just stands there and looks at me. She is a mannequin not moving a muscle.

 

“Honey! Where have you been?” Just then, she starts to walk out. I grab her arm and before I know it she transforms into something I don’t recognize. She turns into a Jew.

 

“Wow. Didn’t think you would actually fall for it.” It walks away laughing, but I call after it.

 

“What fuck did you do with my wife?” I run at it like a cheetah running after its pray.

 

“I didn’t do anything to her. She is not here. We found what she looks like from you. If you sit down I will explain.” I comply because I just want some answers.

 

“And please use your manners. My name is Sarah.”

 

***

“No! That is impossible! Get out of here you filthy pig.” It gets up, mumbles something and walks out. It is impossible to change forms just from a memory. These Jews are worse than I thought; they are witches. I need to get out of here. As I start to figure out an escape plan, a teenage girl opens the door and walk away.

 

“Let’s go.” I stand in my room looking at this girl, even though she looks like swine, I don’t see any mark of a Jew, I wonder where she will take me. I wonder what happened to the little girl who brought me here in the first place. She was the only one I can trust. She was the only human; other than myself.

 

“Where is the little girl?”

 

“She went home to her family. Her mom was in here earlier.”

 

Unbelievable, a Jew touched me. A Jew helped me. I feel like I need to take a shower.

 

“Follow me please.”

 

“No! I am done with all of these tricks! Tell me where I am right now or I will kill you!”

 

“Genem.”

 

“I know that! What is your name damn it!”

 

“Anne.”

 

“Well, Anne where is Genem? Where is my family and why can’t I leave this god forsaken place!”

 

“I thought Sarah told you all of this. Well, I guess now I get to. You can’t leave because you are dead. Your family is dead. Eva, killed herself. Do you know who you are?”

 

“Of course I do! I am…” For some reason I don’t know my name. I know that Eva is my wife and that we were important in the world but I can’t seem to remember my name.

 

“Adolf?” I look at her with confusion and she continues.

 

“You are in Genem.”

 

“Where the fuck am I?”

 

There is long pause. It is funny how time stands still when you need it to go fast. It is almost like a cruel joke on humanity. Time is always playing with us, until we die. But even then it still likes to poke fun.

 

“We are in Hell.”

First Impressions

First impressions are wrong. When you met someone for the first time, your fight or flight instinct kick in. Yes or no. Friend or foe. Yes… or no. Snap judgements are made in the blink of an eye.  And first impressions are wrong.

You walked up to me on a steamy summer day in the parking lot of our new apartment. My only thought was; Locked into a year lease; this is not going to work. You looked like a girl that I went to high school with. Tank top and booty shorts. Popular. Nice. Fun… a party girl; nice on the outside, friends for a few months. Not long lasting with nothing in common. Strong routine of mine.

We started cordial like most roommates start for the first month or two. With my long-term best friend, me, I knew it could be worse. We could not be getting along at all, but at least I have Pumpkin; my childhood cat. He took a liking to you, which was good news for me. Pumpkin is a good judge of character.

All Hallo’s eve. Time of year where I go to my yearly party. Disgust and a fairy walk down Church street, taking in all the sights. First time to legally drink. First time to legally get wild.

First stop, bar one. A spot that became our regular. With drinks and board games, what could be wrong? The fun is just getting started when someone from your past walks in. A group of girls from our college. Snobby. Caty. Nasty. We all hang for a while but, we say goodbye and head to stop two: my friend’s party. Bye ladies.

We are stumbling down Church Street. Church turns into Pearl. As I feel the freezing air sober my mind, you disclose to me about your old friend group. The story sound eerily similar to mine. I have lived it too many time over to count.

Friend meets friend.

Friend and friend become closer and closer.

Best friend and Best friend promise to be there for each other.

Best friend meets a new friend.

Best friend dumps old Best friend for new friend.

End of story.

1:03am. Home at last. Party was adequate, it filled the hunger I get every year. But now I am physically hungry. Thank god for 24 hour McDonalds and thank god for friends.

As time goes on we bond over getting busted, the beautiful musicians, massages, roommate dates, and driving for no reason at all. From Gin Wigmore to photography to Cider Mill. We connect like two puzzle pieces. Meant to meet. Meant to be united. Meant to be friends forever.

And when I heard the worst noise in the world, you were there with a bottle of wine or… two. When he died and I cried tears of relief, you were there with a shoulder to lean on. When I thought, I was better off dead than alive, you were there with a thirty second dance party.

You helped me through some of the darkest times and I thank you for it. For all of it. Wine. Shoulder. Dance party. And everything in between.

Thelma and Louise. Partners in crime. Ride or die.

And first impressions are wrong. When you met someone for the first time, your fight or flight instinct kick in. Yes or no. Friend or foe. Yes… or no. Snap judgements are made in the blink of an eye.  And first impressions are wrong.

As I stand in an empty apartment and relive all the wonderful memories. I think back to my first impression of you. A stuck up looking girl who reminded me of high school. As I laugh to myself I think

Thank god first impressions are wrong.