Chapter 9 All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes
Chapter 9 All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 1
The weekend came and went. David and Adam helped me move. They got to see George’s house but no one was there. George, Bill, and Freddie had all gone out somewhere together. My new keys would be hidden in a flowerpot around the side of the house.
David pulls up next to the curb and Adam and I step out. Adam and I walk around the side of the house to find the keys as David starts dragging all my things up the front walk to the door. I didn’t have much to move, so it takes David no time at all.
The flowerpot and the keys are easy to find, right on the side of the house where George said they would be. “Easy and quick,” I say, turning to Adam. “Come look at the pool,” I say, grabbing Adam’s elbow and dragging him towards the back yard.
We stumble up to the fence and look over. “Wow,” is Adam’s reaction at the sight of the pool. Strange though, the pool pump is on. Water is foaming at the top while we hear the pump working. Looking at me and then back at the pool Adam says, “I thought you said they weren’t home.”
That’s what I thought,” I reply. “Maybe they are just away for a little while?” I ask. “Maybe,” Adam hisses, as if we’re in a horror movie and have just discovered the true secret of the house. “Maybe the house comes to life when someone gets hurt,” Adam whispers under his breath.
Adam and I had just watched Burnt Offerings with Karen Black. He was sure that the plot to kill me and steal my soul was alive and well at the House of George. Or at least that’s what he kept telling me.
“I could use a little help!” David yells, making us both jump. He is now standing behind us, clearly irritated. “I thought you left me to do all the work.”
I turn the key in the door and once we’re in the house we are completely alone, except for that fucking, swearing parrot. “Faggots! Faggots!” It screams at us.
It was a quick and ferocious move. Not only from Joe’s house to the House of George, but life started humming. There was a new fire in me. I felt that I needed a change. I felt that I needed to create a list of things that I needed to do: 1. I need a car, 2. I need to get a degree, and 3. I need to change my life.
David helped me with getting the car. He also took me to The Sage College of Albany on New Scotland Avenue. I knew what I wanted to be: I was going to be an actor and get an acting degree. It was going to be part-time study, so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. We applied, I got accepted, signed up for classes and purchased my materials. Then I moved my waiter shift at Denny’s to the graveyard shift.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 2
I rarely see George for the first few weeks that I am living in his basement. He leaves the house very early in the morning, just before I get home from the graveyard shift at Denny’s.
My shift at Denny’s is 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., but I am required to be there an hour early. After the end of my shift at 7 a.m., I stop by the house, run in to shower, grab up my books, and head off to my first class of the day at Sage College.
My first class, three times a week, is a three-hour English Lit class taught by a tiny little gnomelike woman named Helen Staley. Helen, who is in her mid-to-late 70s, stands roughly at four-foot-nothing, wears her hair piled up on top of her head “Heidi style,” and keeps her eyeglasses on a chain around her neck. Even at her age, she wears the most stylish clothing I have ever seen.
After we take our seats, Helen enters a good five minutes late to every class. Standing at the front of the room, she spends the next three hours rambling on in a high-pitched voice about pretty much anything except English Lit.
“I remember when I was in India and my husband was riding an elephant. One day he came across a dead body wearing a pith helmet.” Then she pauses to look at the ceiling as collectively we silently count to ten in our heads. She pauses again, her jaw becomes slack, and then she returns to the present time dazed and confused.
“Did I say India?” she screeches in her high-pitched voice. “I think it might have been Africa. Or was it when we ran away with the circus?” Then pausing to look up at the ceiling, “Why was there a dead body at the circus?”
Helen pauses once more and goes far away into her head as we silently count to ten again, and then she returns, placing her glasses on the bridge of her nose as if there hadn’t been a serious lapse in time. Teetering on her heel, she spins around to the blackboard and grabs up a piece of chalk.
“So, when Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner … She pauses, removes her glasses, looks lovingly towards the window, and then in a booming voice recites:
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
Here a smile crosses her face as she re-hears the poem being spoken by her in her own head. Turning to the class she gasps, “I remember, it wasn’t India, it was Egypt where he discovered the dead body in a pith helmet!” Helen smiles broadly but briefly before a frown flickers across her face. “Now why would I be riding an elephant in Egypt?” she asks the class.
I am constantly nodding off in her class because I am exhausted. Every time my head drops forward, I wake myself up. Then I stretch my neck as if I meant to do it. “I love dancers,” Helen exclaims, looking at me, “always stretching.”
Quickly my part-time schedule at the college starts to turn into a full-time schedule. I mean what with all the reading, acting classes, and meeting with other students I have to do, there is little time to sleep. I race home after school, grab a couple hours of sleep and then head off to my graveyard shift. If my job is slow, I do my homework sitting at the front counter.
By the time I leave the house at 10 p.m. for work, George is driving home, slightly bombed from The Waterworks Pub, his favorite hangout. Today after class, I skip out on my acting class. I plan on running home early to get a couple extra hours of sleep. I throw the car into park in front of the house, run up the walk, and open the front door.
Once I get inside the house, six Boston terrier puppies that I have never seen before run down the hallway at me in full speed. They jump and bark to greet me. One of the puppies grabs my pant leg as two more grab my bag and drag it down the hall. Several of the puppies begin to bark and fight over the bag.
A minute later Bill, wearing a bathrobe, steps into the hallway. He pauses and throws his hands out to his sides. “Isn’t this the craziest thing you have ever seen?” he asks, as the puppies fall over each other to get to him.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 3
Everywhere I go, the puppies are sure to follow. Imagine one giant, fighting, barking, swirling mass of extreme cuteness swirling behind me wherever I go. It may take the puppies a half hour to follow me down the stairs to the basement and an hour to get back up the stairs.
It is so cute to watch them stumble and bumble over each other to follow me, that my annoyance wanes.
It seems that when Bill and George were together, they decided to raise Boston terrier pups to sell to make extra money. They shared the mother and had her mate with another breeder’s dog. When Bill and George split, Bill threw a hissy fit, took the mother and the pups and went to his Mom’s house. Now that Bill has returned, they have agreed to start up their business venture again. Each pup’s starting price is $600.00.
It seems that everywhere I step, a puppy has marked that spot with either Number 1 or 2. The house quickly smells like a petting zoo. Unfortunately, I am the only person who seems to be bothered by this, because I pick up after the dogs all the time. Unfortunately for me, their favorite spot to relieve themselves seems to be in my bedroom. Remember, I don’t have a door, just a curtain to keep noise and puppies out.
I am now more exhausted than I have ever been before. The puppies keep me awake day and night. I have taken to wearing dark sunglasses that hide my eyes in Helen’s class, but my snoring betrays me. In an effort to stop my snoring, Helen raps a ruler on my desk, causing me to jump. She asks me to stand and recite The Wreck of the Ancient Mariner, then asks me what it means to have “an albatross around one’s neck.”
Five minutes into my explanation I am saved by Helen and her impromptu story about her husband and the curse of Tutankhamen. Thank God for her foggy brain. I quickly sit down in my chair in case I jog her memory that she asked me to stand and talk about the albatross.
Somewhere in Helen’s head she has a brilliant idea: she wants me to be the editor of a book that the English Department puts out yearly with various students’ work in it. She thinks that I am exhausted from studying my English Lit book late into the night and reminds me “How hard it is to be a dancer.” “Oh, Joy!” I think, when she asks me to meet with her later to discuss my participation.
Acting class is not going much better. During daily improv I am asked to be an animal. I choose to be a sponge so I can lie on the floor and not move. This begins a ridiculous argument with my acting teacher about my lack of respect for him and whether a sponge is really an animal. It’s true, I think, that I have developed a lack of respect for my acting teacher, but I am just too tired to care.
I have also signed up for a Physiology and Anatomy class, which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I can’t remember which way the blood pumps or any of the names of the various bones, veins, and muscles, and I don’t care. My brain is becoming a mash.
After class I run to get a quick nap before heading to my full-time job on the graveyard shift. The puppies follow me down into the basement stairs, where we all pause on the landing. I can hear a knocking on the wall coming from George’s room. It isn’t in a rhythm but sounds like someone heard me come home and is trying to get my attention.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 4
The rapping on the wall continues as the dogs come plopping down the stairs one at a time to follow me. “Do you need help?” I yell into the crack of George’s bedroom door. “Rap, Rap” is the reply back to me.
The puppies continue bouncing down the stairs and gather at my feet. I grab the handle of George’s door and try to move the knob back and forth. The door is clearly locked. “The door is locked,” I scream back into the crack of the bedroom door. “Rap, Rap,” is the reply.
Bill appears at the top of the basement stairs, in his floor-length robe. He is wearing it off his shoulders and his elbows hold it up. “Girrrrrrrrrlll,” he purrs, placing the back of his hand to his head as if nursing a hangover. In the other hand he holds an unlit cigarette. “Sugar, why are you yelling?” “I think someone is locked in George’s room.”
Bill looks at me as if I had told him that the sun rises and sets daily. “And?” he asks, raising his cigarette to his mouth. With the other hand he begins to fish in his pocket, clearly looking for a lighter. He finds the lighter, pulls it out, and holds it in the air.
“George doesn’t want anyone in his room,”Bill states matter-of-factly before lighting his cigarette. He takes a long dramatic drag on the cigarette and pauses, then slowly blows the smoke into the air. Looking directly at me, he says, “George doesn’t want anyone in his room.”
“Clearly there is someone in his room,” I remind Bill. “I am trying to help them get out.” “I wouldn’t,” Bill says, as he picks a piece of tobacco off his tongue. “But someone is in there!” I shout at Bill. “Let me be clearer.” Bill pauses, taking another drag from his cigarette. “George doesn’t want anyone in his room, or freed from his room.”
Bill purrs once again and then minces down the stairs towards me. He looks like a broken Norma Desmond doll to me. He is just missing the head wrap. Once he reaches the bottom of the stairs, the puppies begin jumping and barking around his feet trying to get his attention.
“Sugar pop, it’s a game.” Bill says, speaking in a whisper five inches from my face. “A game that he used to play for free that he now pays for. Get it?” he asks, as he flicks the ash off his cigarette. “Sugar, you’re going to get along a lot better if you just mind your own business.”
Bill pushes past me but pauses midway in front of the wall to George’s room. “If you don’t be quiet you will get beaten,” Bill screams to whoever is on the other side of the wall. “Not that you’ll mind,” he finishes, whispering under his breath.
Bill walks to the toilet, opens the front of his robe and urinates into the bowl. The reflection in the mirror shows me that Bill is wearing nothing but a t-shirt under his robe. “You’ll get used to it,” Bill says, shaking his dick as he looks back over his shoulder at me.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 5
Sitting on my bed beneath my posters of Madonna and Rob Lowe. It’s late at night and I have my curtain closed. I glance up. “Oh, Rob,” I sigh like a 15-year-old schoolgirl when I look at him. His dreamy eyes and smile sparkle back at me. “It’s all okay.”
Next to him is Madonna, highlighted by a purple border. This is her “Boy Toy” phase. To me, Madonna is so much more. She is everything that I want to be: talented, pretty, famous, and never having to worry about money, ever.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I ask myself. The grumble in my empty stomach answers my question. I have had nothing to eat since breakfast. I am worried.
I am worried about money. The weekly graveyard shift at Denny’s brings all types of weird folks to eat eggs at 4:00 a.m., but doesn’t give me enough money to live on.
Sometimes, if I’m lucky, there is a whole cavalcade of non-stop freaks that think that they are amusing. But to the staff they are just drunk. And when they are drunk, a table of four will say cute things like, “Just wait until the end; you’re going to get a great tip.”
Or when asked if they want something to drink, one of them will mumble, “No thanks. I just want water.” Unfortunately, to get money to pay my bills, I have to sell Denny’s food. I can’t get a tip on water. So I will launch into, “Can I get you anything to eat?” My pen is poised above my pad, ready to write. “Yeah,” one of them will slur before passing out. “One Grand Slam and four plates!” The only constant thing I get from these drunks is aggravation.
The weekend is the time to make the money. Lots of drunks spending money, fighting with each other, throwing things, and vomiting. Yes, vomiting. Who knew there would be so much vomiting? No one pays any of us to clean up vomit, yet it seems to be my constant chore. I’ve been known to leave an empty bus bucket by a table for someone to vomit in.
“I’m going to leave this here if one of you needs it,” I will say, slipping it beneath their booth. The staff is very good at immediately recognizing someone who has been over-served. It becomes a second sense.
I also learn that I have to walk slowly once the bus bucket is filled. I have learned that you don’t want to splash any of that on your leg, especially not if it’s the first table of the night and you still have seven hours to go. It’s bad enough that the polyester uniform I wear holds the smell of Denny’s food long past its washing.
The only problem with working the weekend graveyard shift is that lifers closely guard it. There is a staff of about four women, all in their mid-50s, who need this job and have had this job for years. Training with them is a nightmare. They take all the tips you make for them and they hold back information on how to do something. If I learn the secret of how Denny’s does things I become more valuable and they become less. Of course this is all in their heads. Or at least I think it is.
There are only two waiters at Denny’s: me, and a guy named Anthony. He’s gay and I’m gay, so everyone asks if we are going to get together. I have yet to meet Anthony, but I swear that I don’t know him from the clubs.
“Don’t all you gays hang out together?” The truth is, “Yes, we do,” I answer the bus boy as I watch him eat the discarded food out of the bus bucket. At least he takes it into the kitchen before digging through it.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 6
The graveyard shift tends to have the same people work it all the time. There is Lois, a waitress — and Paul, her boyfriend who is a line cook. Paul and Lois moved here two years ago from Colorado because they were looking for a change. There is no bigger change I can imagine than trading Colorado for Colonie, New York.
Lois is in her early 50s and Paul is in his mid-20s. She tells me that she used to be his babysitter, but I don’t know if she is joking or just saying it to get a rise out of me. As a couple, they have a great dynamic, but Paul clearly thinks that he is working at a four-star restaurant. Yelling at the top of his lungs, he will refuse any substitutions that I might try to slip in unnoticed, but Lois can substitute her heart away.
“Geoff!” Paul will scream while bringing the back of his spatula down on the “pick up” bell. “Ting, ting, ting,” it chimes. So if I didn’t hear Paul yell at me the first time, the constant “ting, ting, ting” of the bell should clearly get my attention. It does get everyone’s attention within a five-mile radius of his cook’s line.
“Yes, Paul?” I’ll say, before I pivot over to him. I will actually act as if I don’t know why I am being called over and take my sweet time walking. Paul will huff and puff, but wait for me to be standing directly in front of him. He will shake the order page in my face, his face turning a light crimson, and scream,“You can’t substitute pancakes for grits! Go back to that table and tell them!” Then he will ball up the order and bounce it off my head or face for effect.
So now, I have to walk back to the only table that I currently have, un-ball the check and tell them they have to change their order. Every time the table will try to reason with me. “But we are the only ones in the entire restaurant,” they’ll say. “Uh-huh,” I grunt.
Paul will scream back at the table from the cook’s window, “Geoff is new here, he is just learning the rules! Don’t baby him!” I suddenly become the asshole. It gets old fast.
Another oddity on the team is Jason. He is the official graveyard busboy who works with us. He stands about 6’3”. He’s bald, with a hulking build and a strange crooked stare. He wears dark-framed glasses.
Clearly, he has had some sort of head injury because he tends to stand and stare at women customers he thinks are pretty. He does this to the point where they become alarmed. When this happens, he tries to be cool by staring at them from a distance and from behind things. He will hide behind a potted plant or the register until the patron freaks out, usually screaming for a manager. Then one of us will have to calm down the customer who is complaining. We have to explain that Jason is a bit odd and clearly has a head injury. Then we try to make her comfortable while Jason goes to the kitchen to calm his nerves by eating something from the bus tub. He will stay there until the customer leaves.
Everything at Denny’s is done by seniority. Open shifts have to first be offered to the people who have worked for the company the longest. So the breakfast crew, who will not even work a dinner or graveyard shift, still have to be offered the open shift first. If they say “No” then it gets trickled down to new people. If someone from the graveyard shift goes on vacation, one of the women from the dinner shift will work their original dinner shift and then cover the graveyard shift. It is so hard to get to work an additional shift. One of the women with the least amount of seniority on the breakfast shift has been working at this particular Denny’s for 35 years. I can never pick up any available shifts, since I have only been here a couple of weeks.
One rule I learn the hard way is to never ask any of the “girls” (as they refer to themselves) from the breakfast shift if you can cover their shift for them. It’s bad enough that they barely talk to you and that their customers show up at the end of our graveyard shifts and sit in our seats but refuse to order because they are waiting for the breakfast shift waitresses to take over. It’s cool that some of their customers have been arriving every day for the past ten years and it’s a little like family. Unfortunately, these customers want nothing to do with me waiting on them.
I get called Fag, Homo, and Queer by customers on a daily basis, not even behind my back or mumbled into a napkin, but right to my face. If I complain, the boss tells me to ignore it, and that there is nothing he can do. I remind him that it is illegal to discriminate, even if it’s discrimination by a customer. He just laughs, shakes his head, and asks me, “Well then, why don’t you just quit?”
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 7
The weekend finally comes and tonight I get to wait on my own tables at Denny’s. No more following or trailing another server; my training is complete. As I pull into the parking lot, I can see that the place is packed. Packed with drunks. Packed to the brim with drunks. Glancing through the giant windows that face the parking lot I can see people jumping around. It looks like an out-of-control party is going on.
My shift starts at 11:00 p.m., but I always like to arrive half an hour before I’m supposed to start work. That way I can ease into the night, start with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. I park, turn off the ignition and spend a few extra moments inside my car, taking deep breaths. I can already see what kind of night I am in for. But I can’t sit here all night; if I’m going to go in, it’s now or never.
As I walk up the cement path to the store, drunks stumble by me on their way out to their cars. It’s the ’80s, so drinking and driving is pretty much acceptable behavior and often talked about as a rite of passage. As I open the front door, one girl stumbles by me before falling headfirst into the bushes, literally five steps from the front of the restaurant. Her friend falls in after her as she tries to help. The two of them lie on the ground laughing and trying to get up. I walk past without offering to help either of them, and push the door open. Inside, it’s standing room only. I have to excuse myself and push through people so I can get into the place.
The staff from the 4-11 p.m. shift is so happy to see me that they ask me if I can get on the floor right away. That way they can leave the floor, let me finish up their tables and turn the tips over to them. So I get to finish up their drunk and abusive patrons before I get to have my own.
One of the waitresses, Michelle, grabs my elbow on my way past her as I head into the kitchen. She leans into my ear and loudly whispers, “Table 12 is full of assholes! Can you please finish it up for me?” I look her in the eyes and she repeats, “Please?” Her eyes are pleading for help. I get it. She is done. I nod my head to acknowledge what she is asking of me. She doesn’t even let me get into the kitchen before she hands all of her checks over to me.
The employee break room is literally one step inside the kitchen door. There is a table attached to the wall piled high with empty glasses, newspapers, and ashtrays overflowing with half-smoked cigarettes. I take a deep breath.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 8
Within five minutes of arriving here I have agreed to take over most of the tables. That way the staff on the dinner shift can clean up and go home. I will help them out, after I have a final cigarette.
Every waitress on the floor has come crawling to me on their knees while I was in the back, begging me to take over their tables. They are clear on what the terms are if I do so. It’s sad to be begged by someone in their 40s who is willing to give you their kids, their house, and a dinner date with their husband just so they can leave the floor. “I mean, come on,” I say, “how bad can it be out there?” Michelle makes a “snort” noise in response.
Hopefully, I will have fresh patience since I just got here. I think for a minute. “Nah,” I say, answering my own question. Drunk people suck when you have to wait on them. It is guaranteed that someone at one of the tables will refer me to as a fag. Or maybe make a “mincing” movement while I am talking. Or maybe they will deliver the all time favorite motion, the “limp wrist.”
I quickly develop a shield around me and can usually “zing” a drunk. People love a sassy gay waiter when they are bombed, but I have to be careful that it’s not too much. There is a line. I learn to develop several personalities to get by: Straight Gay, Funny Gay, Not Gay, Quiet Gay, or the “What did you say Motherfucker?” Gay.
“These fuckers are drunk and rowdy,” I say out loud to no one, taking a drag on my cigarette. I keep one eye on the swinging kitchen door as I exhale the smoke. I make a silent prayer: “It will turn into a quiet night that’s busy and I will make lots of money, Amen.” As I stub out my cigarette my prayer is heaven-answered by the sound of glasses smashing to the floor. It sounds like the glasses are falling by the dessert station. It happens all the time.
The floor over there is made of hard brick. It is a pain in the ass to clean anything up once it drops in that area. The main problem is that it’s where the path to the customer bathroom, a short walk to the front door, and the path to the kitchen all intersect. If you’re quick you may pass without a problem. Unfortunately, many a wreck has happened here.
I stick my head out to look. I can see Michelle almost on her hands and knees. In one hand she is holding a dustpan, in the other she is using a sweep brush and pushing broken glass into it. Standing above her is a skinny girl balancing on one high heel. Her other leg is dangling in the air. The girl grips the counter to steady herself.
“I’m soooooooooooo sorrrrrrrrry,” the girl slurs at the top of her voice. Michelle leans back when the girl is teetering dangerously close to falling on her. Michelle pauses, turning her head to face the girl, when she sees me standing with my head sticking out of the kitchen door. Rolling her eyes at me, she mouths the word, “See?” Then she loudly and sarcastically exclaims to the girl, “No problem at all, I totally have this.”
“You’re the best …, the best,” the girl says while patting Michelle on the shoulder, then turns and walks straight into the counter. “Wham!” But bouncing off, she begs of the counter to, “Excuse me.” I watch her stumble into the bathroom.
It is quickly becoming time for the rest of the graveyard shift to show up when I step out onto the floor ten minutes early. My cigarette is finished, I have everyone’s checks, and I am easing around the corner. I check my hair in the mirror above the pies.
That’s when I see Lois and Paul pulling into the parking lot. Whoever is driving the car is in a hurry. When the car stops at the front door, the passenger door pops open, Lois swings her legs out of the car and hits the pavement running. As she comes sprinting through the front door, I hear the glass rattle as the door slams shut behind her.
Lois’ hair is almost up in a bun but the sides are hanging out in big pieces. She is stuffing bobby pins into hair as she rushes past me. As I follow, Lois empties her arms of everything that she is holding onto the break table. Then she pulls a Virginia Slim out of her bag and lights it. Exhaling, she looks at me and explains, “Traffic, and then Paul was late, I overslept, the alarm got shut off because we haven’t had full power, and his Mother is an asshole!” She blows smoke into the air.
I get the general idea as to what kind of day and state Lois is in. As she finishes pulling her hair up into a bun, she clenches her cigarette between her teeth. “I tell you, it’s not sometimes that she has something to say, its pretty damn often that she has everything to say.” Lois puts one finger in the air as if reprimanding someone that I can’t see.
“Paul’s Mother?” I ask. Lois throws both her hands in the air. “That woman! Someday I will send her packing and on a trip!”
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 9
“I am not in the mood for tonight!” Lois screams as she slides a second cigarette out of her pack and lights it off the one she is about to put out. “God damn it!” she screams, feeling the pack in her hand. “I am down to my last two cigarettes. I was so late I didn’t get a chance to stop and pick up another one. How will I make it through tonight?” She digs through her change purse and pulls out several singles.
“Damn it,” she mutters, “Now I will have to use the machine here and pay two extra freaking dollars!” She sticks her cigarette in the ashtray, blows out a puff of smoke, and pushes her way out through the swinging door onto the floor.
Stopping at the register, Lois punches the “No Sale” key sharply and the drawer pops open with a “Ping!” She digs her fingers into the quarters and exchanges her singles for a handful of quarters. The machine at the front door only accepts quarters and the cost for a pack of cigarettes here is $4.50. “Highway Robbery!” Lois yells out loud to no one, while counting her quarters.
A customer stumbles up to the register. His check is in one hand, while his other hand is holding onto a drunken girl in tight spandex pants. Her lipstick is smeared and the man has some of it on his lips and cheek. Making out drunk at Denny’s seems to be part of the date.
Lois completely ignores him and continues counting out quarters. The man clears his throat and shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot. “Excuse me miss,” the man stammers, holding his check in the air, “Could I pay this here?” Lois quickly shoots the man a look that stops him cold. His arm stays suspended in the air.
“I’m not on the floor yet!” Lois hisses through clenched teeth at him. Her voice begins to rise. “Do I look like I’m on the floor yet? Huh? Do I? Do I look like I’m on the floor yet?” The man slowly lowers his arm, then looks at his girlfriend and back at Lois. “Well actually, you do look like you’re on the floor,” the man says meekly.
Lois stops counting. She pauses briefly, then looks up at the man. “I do not start work until 11:00 p.m., I still have five minutes before I have to be on this floor. When I get on the floor I will be happy to cash out your check, serve you a freaking ‘Moons Over My Hammy’ or anything else you might need.” That said, she returns to counting quarters.
The clock on the wall behind Lois reads 11:10 p.m. The man puts out one finger and points behind her to the clock. Lois turns around slowly to look at the clock, then turns back to the man. A lone tear forms in the corner of her eye and rolls down her cheek.
Michelle, who has returned to the floor to finish her side work, slides up next to Lois. “Are you okay?“ she asks a clearly shaken Lois. Lois shakes her head no. Her lower lip begins to tremble.
I am standing at the wait stand in the middle of the restaurant, watching this unfold. Michelle quickly scans the restaurant, looking desperately for someone to help. Our eyes meet again. Michelle widens her eyes, which is clearly a plea for help from me. As Michelle grabs a sobbing Lois by the elbow and takes her back into the kitchen, I slide in behind the register. “How was everything? I ask the man, summoning up the most chipper voice I have.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 10
“That waitress is fucking nuts!” the man says, handing over his check to me. He loudly repeats it before looking around to see if anyone saw what happened and agrees with him. Then he yells, “I should get something for free!”
“Yeah, we want something free!” his girlfriend chimes in, lifting her head long enough to add in her two cents. “Yeah, I should get something free!” he yells again, but louder this time
“Where is the manager?” he asks, swaying awfully close to the container of mints that sits on the counter between us. “Ah, cool mints,” he screams with delight when he discovers them. Then, using his whole hand, he scoops up the mints and holds them tight in his hand before offering his girlfriend his fist.
He slowly opens his hand. The mints are now stuck together and have left a white powdery residue that clings to his hand. She picks out a couple of mints and pops them into her mouth. Then he pops a couple into his mouth, puts the remaining mints back into the container, and wipes his hand on his pants. The white powder is now also on the front of his pants.
“Is there anything else I can do for you?” I ask sweetly. He pauses a moment, looking skyward. I can see him thinking hard. “Nope, that will do it,” he says with a big smile on his face, completely forgetting that he demanded something for free from me and to speak to a manager.
Releasing his girlfriend’s hand, he feels his pockets with his hands. Suddenly looking panicked, he feels and re-feels his pockets. Then relaxing, he pulls out his car keys. “Thought I lost them,” he screams with delight.
His girlfriend leans with both hands hard on the counter, her head hanging forward. He reaches out, grabs his girlfriend’s hand, and they both stumble for the door. On their way out, Anne, another waitress who is working tonight’s shift, is rushing in. Her shoulder-length hair flows straight out behind her. Management dictates that if it is shoulder length or longer that it must be pulled into a bun.
The two leaving customers bumble around her, slowing her way into the restaurant. Anne smiles and moves them quickly out of the way. “Sorry I’m late,” she yells, brushing past me. “Couldn’t find a sitter and the parking lot is packed to capacity!” With that, Anne pushes through the kitchen door and disappears.
“Hey, Skippy,” yells a rather large man in a flannel cut-off shirt. He sits directly across from the register. “When you sashay over here, I need more coffee.” He makes little a tinker bell movement with his thumb and index finger. The woman across from him, wearing all leather from head to toe, snorts at his remark, shakes her head and lights up a cigarette.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 11
I walk across the room, ignoring the fact that I was asked to sashay my way over there. I carry two pots of coffee: one for decaf, the other for regular.
I approach the guy, who watches me walk to the table, and I notice that he has an orange coaster under his cup. The orange coffee pot in my one hand is decaf; the brown pot in my other hand is for regular. I raise the orange pot and reach it towards his cup. He quickly covers his cup with his hand and addresses me, “Hold on princess, I’m drinking decaf. Is that decaf?”
I look at the guy, smile and say, “Yes you dumb, stupid, lowlife, hillbilly fuck, this is decaf!” Or at least that’s what I want to say, but I have bills to pay and so I answer, “Yes, Sir!” Then I flash him the biggest smile I can muster.
“Well it better be, princess. I don’t want to be up all night and if I am, I’ll be back!” “No way, I would never let that happen,” I say, pivoting away on one foot. “Don’t worry, you’ll sleep like a baby.” “A big dumb fucking hillbilly lowlife baby,” I think to myself.
Later when I go to his table again, I first stop in the kitchen to fill the decaf pot with regular coffee. When I reach his table, I fill his decaf cup to the brim with regular coffee. I smile again at him while I do it. He grunts and raises the cup to his lips.
I have witnessed horrible things that a waitress or waiter has done to food before it gets served to nasty customers. It is more the norm than then you would think. This is the worst thing that I have done. Well, this and I once told someone that they were eating Hellman’s Mayonnaise when they asked me. Actually they were just eating something from a jar labeled mayonnaise. They drunkenly called me on my lie.
Tonight, I get to work in the back part of the smoking section of the restaurant. Actually the smoking section is pretty much the entire restaurant. It starts at the front of the restaurant when you come in and contains 36 of the 42 booths, plus the entire counter along the wall. I get six tables: four booths and two 12-tops. The word “tops” just refers to how many people the table will seat.
The non-smoking section and the smoking section are only separated by which way you are facing in your booth. So you can be in the non-smoking section and the table next to you is smoking. How they think the smoke in the non-smoking section will stay in the smoking section on its own side is beyond me. Non-smokers constantly complain that the smoke is drifting near their table and ask if the staff can “blow it away” or maybe “fan the menu to make it get away from our table?”
We have no host or hostess tonight, so we have to seat all the patrons ourselves. Patiently waiting at the door is a group of drunken businessmen and businesswomen. Well, actually there are eight drunken businessmen and one businesswoman.
Grabbing a stack of menus, I walk to the door. “Hi, party of nine?” I ask. They nod and rise from the waiting area. I take them to one of my 12-tops, place the menus on the table, and tell them I will be right back to take a drink order.
When I return to the table, the woman has her head resting on her arm, which is resting on the table. “Hi!” I say, pen held in hand ready to take a drink order. “Can I get you something to drink?”
The woman lifts her head off the table and looks at me. “No thanks, She says, I have had too much to drink already.” She pauses, and then proceeds to projectile vomit all over the front of me.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 12
The vomit hits me in my chest with such a force that I take a step back. My soul actually tries to escape by pushing backwards out of my body. The vomit spreads from its point of impact and flies into my hair, my eyes, my nose, and runs down the front of my pants.
My body locks and I can’t move. As if in a movie, suddenly everything goes into slow motion. I can no longer hear the familiar Muzak playing from the speakers overhead or smell the familiar clam chowder overcooking on the steam table. All the sound I hear is muffled, sort of like I am underwater and my sense of smell has become overpowered. I look at the faces of the people at the table who are watching this happen. Again, everything seems to be in slow motion. Their faces contort from a look of shock, to a look of horror and disgust. I see a man reaching for a handful of napkins and extending his hand towards me.
“They’re all going to laugh at you, Carrie White,” says a little voice in my head. Everything is frozen. All I can hear is a drip, drip, dripping sound as the vomit slides off my face and hits the tip of my shoe. I feel as if I have been standing like this for hours. Time no longer exists. Sound no longer exists. All I can hear, smell, and feel is the vomit dripping off of me.
I can see the table, and the woman who did this. Her head is back down on the table and the other people there are saying something to me. I believe It’s an apology, but I don’t move.
Once my brain processes what has happened, it decides to step in and make something happen to me. I slowly turn around and face the dining room floor. Everyone is looking at me. Everyone is looking at me. “They’re all going to laugh at you, Carrie White,” says the little voice in my head again.
I can see Michelle, Lois, and Anne frozen by the register, looking at me. Lois and Anne have come out onto the floor to start work. Michelle is leaving and has changed out of her uniform. I see the looks of horror on their faces.
My head slowly moves from side to side as it pans every table, every customer. My hands are still frozen in mid-air. It looks as though I tried to block the vomit as it hit me, or as if I was in the middle of a hold-up when all this happened.
Slowly, I pivot on my heel and head away from the girls, towards the kitchen door. Every eye is on me as I walk. The busboys standing in front of the kitchen part as I come near them. They, too, have a look of horror on their faces.
I step into the kitchen. The polyester shirt of my uniform is stuck to my skin. Without a word, I unbutton my shirt and my vest. My name tag is no longer visible, but I can see the Denny’s logo peeking out at the top.
I slide the shirt and the vest off my arms and drop it into the garbage can beneath the time clock. I pivot again and head back out of the kitchen, this time taking the door closest to the register.
“It didn’t happen,” my brain reassures me. I am now wearing a vomit-stained white t-shirt, vomit-covered uniform pants, and vomit-covered shoes. Without a word to anyone, I walk past the register, head out the front door of the restaurant and climb into the front seat of my car. I start the engine and without a second thought, pull out of the parking lot and onto the main road. I am heading home.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 13
I pull up in front of the house and park on the street. I don’t initially turn off the engine but sit there with it running. I have just finished chain smoking a full pack of cigarettes on my ride home. Thank God I bought two packs. The smell of vomit is still in my nose and clinging to my clothes. It has enveloped the car.
I shut off the engine, light another cigarette, roll my window all the way down, and slump low in my seat. I glance towards the house. There is a light blazing in the living room window. I can’t say whom I’m going to find when I walk in tonight because I’m never here at this time.
I replay the night over and over again in my head. Had I stepped up to the table moments later, would I be sitting here right now? The clicking of the engine tells me that it’s cooling off. I can’t sit here all night.
I pull the seat back up to sitting and flick my cigarette butt out the window. It lands, blowing sparks onto the pavement. I crank the window back up and push the door open. The overhead light lets me see in my rearview. I still have vomit in my hair.
I push the urge to cry back down as far as I can. Unfortunately, I have let it get too close to the top. It bubbles over and I begin to sob. I begin to sob uncontrollably. I’m not sure why I am crying, but I suddenly feel less than human. I feel worthless and trapped. I feel sorry for myself and I feel sorry for my situation. I hate where I am living. I hate where I am working. I am hating, hating, hating …
My breakdown hits hard and delivers a message to me just as quickly: I need to find a way out. I need to change everything in my life. I am the only one who can do it. I need to create a plan. I need to see things clearer.
I pop a cigarette into my mouth, light it, and wipe the tears out of my eyes. It’s bad enough that I look this bad, but I can’t let it effect me. I can’t let this pull me down. I have to be strong. I can only rely on myself. “Pull your shit together!” I yell out loud. I drop my cigarette on the pavement and grind it out with my shoe.
Lifting my chin, I walk up the sidewalk, put my key in the lock and push open the door. George is sitting in the living room. He is in his recliner. The chair is pushed back and he is fully reclined. He is wearing a blue shorty robe that is open at the crotch. Black fuzzy slippers sit crooked on his feet and a full ashtray sits on the coffee table next to him. He pauses and looks up from his television show to look at me.
“Jesus Christ you look like shit!” He wrinkles his nose and sniffs the air. “Jesus Christ you smell like shit!’ A smile crosses his face and he turns back to his television. Somewhere in that smile, I can see him finding happiness in my misery.
Sitting in the chair opposite George is a dirty little twinkie boy. He is dressed exactly like George, in the same style bathrobe and slippers. He continues to watch television and never looks up. The yellow light from the table lamp reflects off his pencil-thin moustache. “Oh, this is Chris,” says George, blowing smoke into the air.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 14
The next day the house phone rings and rings. The machine picks up and my manager from Denny’s is on the line. He started leaving messages for me earlier in the day. At first the messages were ones of concern, but the messages get more and more angry and violent the longer I don’t pick up or call back.
“Geoff, pick up this goddamned phone,” He screams into the answering machine.“Hello? Hello! So you got thrown up on? So what? It happens!”
“Hello? Are you coming back in? Why did you leave the floor without telling anyone that you were leaving? Goddamn it, pick up this phone!” (audible scream and click).
Mr. Bock has left a total of fifteen messages. I can hear them through the ceiling. The answering machine is directly above my room.
I have been lying in the dark. Suddenly I smell cigarette smoke. “Honey?” It’s Bill. “Sweetie?” He is standing outside my bedroom in the dark, smoking. He begins to speak, but there are long pregnant pauses in between each thing he says.
“You’re gonna have to pick up the phone sooner or later. Getting puked on is not the end of the world. Not that I would know. It is pretty gross, though. Actually the more I think of it, it is disgusting. Honey, you lie there in the dark and fuck them and that job. You deserve better than that!” I listen to his feet shuffle away.
I plan on going back, I think. Yes, I need a job. I have no money and no food. I will have to swallow my pride and call Mr. Bock the manager back soon. I know that there is a limited time window on how soon I need to call him back and still keep my job.
I swing my legs over the side of the bed and come to sitting. I’ll take a shower and I will start to feel better. I come to standing and head out of the bedroom.The basement is dark, so I don’t turn the lights on until I get to the shower.
I reach in to turn on the water and as it starts to warm up, I peel off my clothes. Kicking my underwear to the floor, I flip on the light in the shower room. I step in and let the water run over my head. Water runs into my eyes and down my body. Steam immediately begins to cover the glass. I don’t like not being able to see outside the shower, so I run my hand over the glass and wipe away the fog. I have only been in the shower for ten minutes.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see movement on the other side of the glass. I raise my hand and wipe the glass again, and this time I see Chris on the other side of the glass, watching me shower.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 15
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I scream, jumping three feet in the air. I quickly rap my knuckles on the glass. His face doesn’t move. His grin just gets bigger.
“It’s a free country and I can do what I want to do,” Chris yells back at me. “Even watch me in the shower?” “Yup … ” he says absentmindedly as he rubs his moustache. I turn around to face the wall. “ … especially when I got the keys to the castle.”
I turn back to him. He doesn’t move, he just starts to giggle. This I hear perfectly clear and my brain decides immediately what this means. I turn away from him again. “Keys to the castle?” I ask, purposely bending over to soap my legs.
“Yeah, keys. I got him wrapped around my little finger.” “Who do you have wrapped?” I ask, not looking up.
“You know who and I can do whatever I want here.” Chris then leans forward and taps the glass again. “Nice butt,” he hisses.
I quickly stand up, turn around, and bang my hand against the glass. Chris just giggles. He smiles, and I see that he has little yellow teeth. “Like a rat,” I think to myself.
“So you better watch your butt, missy,” Chris says. He points a finger at me, then swirls it. He goes to take a step and staggers forward. His face is now pressed to the glass. “I made one of them disappear already and the second one is on his way out.”
Suddenly it is crystal clear to me. It is early in the afternoon and Chris is bombed. He begins to ramble on about George and how he made Fred disappear.
Chris suddenly leans in and cups his hand to the glass as if he is telling me a secret. “And that nasty queen is next,” Chris whispers, pointing to the ceiling. I assume that he is talking about Bill, but I don’t question it, not yet.
Chris staggers away from the shower, hitting his shoulder on the way out and bouncing back towards George’s room. I watch him trip and stagger to the staircase.
An hour later I find Bill and tell him what Chris said. “Girl, that hooker is up to no good,” Bill says, lighting up a cigarette. He leans on the counter, blows out a stream of smoke, and looks directly at me.
“Lordy,” he says, looking right into my eyes, “I hope he doesn’t fall prey to an even nastier queen than himself.” Bill throws his head back and releases a cackle. Somewhere in the distance, I imagine thunder and lightning.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 16
Through Chris’ influence, George starts to create additional rules for the house. These rules include but are not limited to pool time, shower time, don’t be in the house at a certain time, don’t park in front of the house, and no television in the living room after a certain hour.
Chris could care less about any rules; he just wants to see what he can get George to do on his behalf. George has taken to creating signs with the new rules on them. Heading to the pool? There is a handwritten sign on the door that lists the pool’s new hours. Didn’t see it before? Probably wasn’t there the last time you walked by.
My theory is that Chris doesn’t have a job, or a hobby, or a life. “Child, you are wrong about that theory,” Bill says to me one day during our daily conversation about Chris. “That boy’s hobby is leading George around and making up rules.” Bill lights up a cigarette, takes a deep drag and blows the smoke into the air.
“What if we kill him?” Bill asks me with a wistful sigh. “We can’t kill him, and every time we try to get any revenge against him, George finds out and more rules pop up,” I remind Bill.
The tension in the house builds and builds. At this current time, I have no money to find a new place, so I am stuck. Truth be told, I am barely hanging on by a thread.
At Denny’s my hourly salary is $2.35. The wait staff talks about how often we get stiffed on a bill. You wouldn’t believe the reason they tell me that I don’t get tips. The number one reason people don’t want to leave one is because I’m a fag. I have actually had customers ask me to send over a waitress because they don’t want a fag waiting on them. If I don’t make tips, I don’t eat. My weekly paycheck goes to paying my household bills.
So I am already trying to find another job. Let’s see: I have a GED and whatever table-waiting skills I have learned at Denny’s, so my job field is slightly limited. Oh, and don’t forget my skills at illegally driving a delivery truck and working in a spa where you can smoke while you work out. That job field is completely non-existent. Right now it will be easier to deal with the rules of the house. Chris will slip up. My experience is that liars and thieves always do.
Chris and George are drunk all the time now. Sadly, I have heard George pleading with Chris for sex. Chris is holding out until he gets everything that he wants in the house. Oh, he’ll give him a little here and there, but he is a true puppet master. I think George is 30-40 years his senior. Chris is a power-hungry asshole, who is also a little sociopathic. Bill and I always try to stay one step ahead of him.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 17
My shift at Denny’s brings with it all the human misery that can blow in the door. You want to see a side of the world you only need to see once? Work the graveyard shift at a Denny’s.
I am amazed. I have seen it all in the booths and counter seating at America’s favorite place. I have witnessed pregnant teens (even 12-year-olds) who show up at Denny’s smoking cigarettes after boozing it up at a party. Not just once, but several times. We joked that it was rampant and must be something in the water. “I guess it’s just what a pregnant teen mother smoking cigarettes craves in the middle of the night. She craves ‘Moons over my Hammy!’ ”
I have had to watch the teen-age boyfriend pull together whatever pennies he has to pay the bill before stumbling out, climbing into a car, and peeling out of the parking lot with his drunk pregnant girlfriend by his side.
I have had a grandmother (in her 80s) flash me her breasts. Allegedly it was to “change me,” or at least that’s what she yelled to her table of drunken octogenarian friends who cackled with delight at the sight of her flat hanging breasts. Oh yeah, it changed me alright. It changed me for good. Unfortunately, some things you can never un-see.
I personally have called the police on at least five separate occasions since I started working here. There have been fist fights, slap fights, water fights, soda fights, and pancake wars. I have had trays with food on them pulled out of my hands. I have had someone try to help me by taking one glass off the front of a full tray, not realizing that the tray was going to flip up in the air and cover everyone at the table with sticky soda.
I have found my tip hidden in the ashtray, in leftover food on the plate, wadded up in garbage, and the ever-current popular way of leaving a tip: under an upside-down glass full of water. Yup, under water. Interested? Here’s how: take a full glass of water, drop in the money, cover with a piece of cardboard, and flip it over. Place it upside-down on the table, quickly removing the cardboard. Voilla! The water stays in the glass and forms a seal. There is no way to avoid getting soaked while trying to get your money.
As a waiter at Denny’s, I have been blessed, saved, and prayed for. I have been a shoulder to cry on, a friend to the friendless, and a punching bag to several drunk rednecks. I have been forced to answer to a snap of the fingers, someone yelling “Garcon,” and to the cry, “Hey, Faggot.”
I have had food, drinks, and ice cream thrown at me. I have waited on “little people” dressed as superheroes and never even asked them once, “Why?” I have served, smiled, and choked down many snappy retorts or comments that could get me beaten to death if I spoke my thoughts out loud. And finally the topper on the cake: I have cleaned a full smooshed up turd off of a toilet seat in the men’s room with a paper towel. Yes, I can do it all. You name it, and I have seen it on the graveyard shift at Denny’s. This morning, after my shift finishes and I find myself driving home, I realize that I am in a foul mood and very short of patience.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 18
My car wheezes to a stop directly in front of the house. The fan belt spins a couple of extra times, causing the car to cough and sputter. I am now starting to have problems with my car. It registers hot the minute I turn it on. I had to pull over twice last week, shut it down on the side of the road, and open the windows. It allegedly cools the car down. A customer told me that.
I know that now I am supposed to park my car around the corner. It’s a Chris/George rule, but I am worried that this may be as far as the car gets this morning. Sitting in front of the house, I take this as a moment to be alone, all alone.
I shake a Marlboro Light out of my pack, slide it into the corner of my mouth, and light up. As I blow the smoke into the air, I lower my window. Somewhere in the distance someone is listening to Twisted Sister. I recognize the “Thump, Thump” I am hearing.
“Oh well, I can’t sit in the car forever,” I say out loud to no one. I pop the lock on the door and give it a big push. The driver’s door groans open. “Gotta get that fixed,” I think to myself as I swing my legs out. Standing up, I slam the door. It groans closing as well.
I lean against the car and power smoke the rest of my cigarette. Flicking it into the air, (so it’s not found in front of the house) I turn and head up the path.
Something is odd. I start to slow down when I notice that the front door is wide open and that the screen door is propped open as well. The Twisted Sister music is pumping out of the front windows of George’s house.
I slowly climb the front steps. I’m not going to call out and announce myself until I know what is going on. I have never found George’s house like this. Usually it is wrapped up tight, sealed like a drum. I have a bad feeling, and it’s clear that something is wrong.
I step into the front entryway and peer around the corner into the living room. The first chair closest to the doorway is George’s. The chair is in full recline mode and someone’s sitting in it.
I slowly lean forward to get a look at who is there. I am both relieved and pissed off when I see Chris sitting in George’s chair. His eyes are closed and a half bottle of Jack Daniels sits on the table between the two recliners. The television is on as well and Chris is snoring with his mouth hanging open.
“Chris?” I whisper loudly. He doesn’t stir or even acknowledge me. It’s clear that he is out cold.
I tiptoe past the living room to search the rest of the house. The dogs have been locked in their kennels and they cry and whimper as I walk by. “Hold on, babies,” I whisper, “I’ll be back.”
Ten minutes later I have finished checking out the house. Chris and I are alone — all alone. I walk back into the living room and offer Chris a chance to change the plan I have just hatched. If he responds to me, I will change the course of what I am about to do.
“Chris?” I whisper a second time. Still nothing. He doesn’t move. Twisted Sister is still playing at an ear-deafening level from the speakers. “It’s now or never!” my brain screams.
I reach across Chris and grab the neck of the Jack Daniels bottle. Slowly I raise the bottle above the sleeping Chris. His chest rises and falls, he is snoring steady.
I hold the bottle with one hand and uncork it with the other. Then I take the bottle and tip it forward. The Jack Daniels begins pouring out the top and onto the carpet. I make sure not to get any on me.
Chris doesn’t move or even stir as the Jack Daniels splashes off the carpet and back onto the recliner. Once I’m done, I reach across Chris one more time and set the bottle back on the table, but this time I lay it on its side. It looks as though it has been carelessly knocked over. The truth is, it wasn’t, and it’s about to get even worse for Chris.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 19
I take a step back from the chair. Chris’ snoring is steady. I stand there for about five minutes. I am completely still. “Anything, Chris?” a voice inside my heads asks. “If you stir, I will stop”.
I watch as his chest rises and falls. He is out cold. It’s clear that I have enough time to work out a plan before George gets home. Unfortunately, for me, George’s morning shift is new. New to me, new to Chris, and new to George. I have no idea when he will arrive.
I rarely see Bill anymore. Does he even live here? The only time I see him is when he clomps through house like a loud ghost. You can hear him coming. He appears, complains, blows out a puff of cigarette smoke and stomps on, not to be seen again for hours or even days. Even though it’s a only brief moment in my day, seeing Bill brings a smile to my lips and a chuckle to my heart.
Standing here watching Chris, I think, “How sweet.” I bet Chris was staying up and waiting for George to return home, when he got drunk and passed out. Or maybe he was in the chair since last night, drunk and passed out. Anyhow, my time is running out.
I take three steps backwards, turn, and walk straight to the liquor cabinet. The dogs begin to whine and cry. “Don’t worry babies, I’ll be back,” I say in a soothing voice.
I begin to walk quickly through the house, pouring random alcohol from various bottles on counters, tabletops, and carpeting, anywhere a stupid drunk might spill. When a bottle is empty, I leave it tipped over at the scene of my crime.
I walk to the basement with a dribble of booze here, a splash of booze there. I mimic the walk of a drunk. Everywhere I lean or lurch I let the bottle splash. Bill was right, there is a nastier queen living here. One who is nastier than Chris. One who is now going to seek revenge.
I am looking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I knew that someone in this situation would snap. I just never thought it would be me. I leave an empty bottle by the toilet.
On my way back upstairs, I turn on every single light switch. I even walk out and turn the pump on in the pool and the deck lights. Kitchen, dining room, and all the hallway lights get turned on as I walk by.
“I’ll be right back,” I whisper to the dogs. I place two fingers through the slats in their cage. They all dance around, trying to lick my fingers.
I pause one last time by Chris’ chair. He is still sound asleep. Pulling out my lighter and placing a cigarette in my mouth, I turn and walk out the front door.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 20
I slide behind the wheel of my car. I don’t know how much time I’ll have before George will be pulling up in front of the house. I also hope that Chris won’t wake up and wonder, “What the fuck is going on?” I have a lot riding on this.
I pull out onto Central Avenue, take a quick left and another quick left. I am around the block from the house and unless George has a reason to come through this neighborhood, I should be safe and unseen. I can’t see the house from where I am, so I pull up in front of a stranger’s house, turn off the car, and light another cigarette. I look at my watch and wait twenty minutes.
Three cigarettes later, twenty minutes has slowly passed. I place the key back into the ignition and the engine sputters and jumps to life. Thank God I am not staging a bank robbery and have to rely on my car to make a getaway.
I pull the car back onto Central Avenue and head over the two blocks. From this direction I can see the house before I have to signal to turn. If George is home, I will immediately see his car. If not, I will drive by.
As I approach the end of the block, I see a glorious sight. George is home. His car is sitting outside in the front of the house. I pull up across the street and shut off my car. It coughs again and jumps a little before turning off. I open the driver’s side door and step out onto the street.
I slam the door shut. “Honey, I’m home,” I want to yell out as I pass in front of George’s car. A quick touch to the hood tells me that George hasn’t been here that long. I walk around the front and step onto the sidewalk. That’s when a pile of clothing comes flying out the front door.
Then I hear George’s voice. “Pick up your fucking shit and get the fuck out of my house!” Some shoes fly out, a mug shatters on the stoop, and then Chris flies out. He has no shirt on, no shoes, just socks, and he’s buckling his pants. I pause on the sidewalk as George steps onto the stoop.
Chris scrambles to stand. He grasps his waistband in his hand. George sees me standing there. “Do you know what this stupid fuck did to our house?” he asks me, sticking one finger out in Chris’ direction. Realizing that George has called it “our” house suddenly means to me that my plan has succeeded probably better than I ever could have imagined.
“I didn’t do anything,” Chris screams and makes a run for the front door. He quickly passes by George who turns and chases him inside. I walk up the stoop and slowly walk through the front door. “Oh my God,” I say, slowly looking around. “What happened?”
I can hear that George and Chris are somewhere else in the house. I hear furniture crashing and the two of them screaming at each other. I walk over to the overturned recliner and set it upright. Clearly George flipped Chris’ little rat ass out of it and onto the floor.
“Oh my,” I say as I reach over to pick up an empty booze bottle. “This house is saturated with booze!” I’m sure that no one can hear me, but you never know.
I slowly walk into the hallway. The crashing and screaming is coming from downstairs. I lean my head into the laundry room and look at the dogs in their cage. “Just a couple more minutes,” I whisper loudly.
Then I walk through the kitchen and head towards the basement. George is on the phone to the police, and Chris is screaming.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 21
I walk through the kitchen. Everything is just where I left it. There is a white plastic bag on the counter. I peek inside. I see two styrofoam containers and I can smell breakfast. “How sweet,” I think again.
It looks like George has brought home breakfast for Chris. I quietly bet two bucks that someone will end up throwing it.
Standing at the top of the stairs. I can hear things crashing, things being thrown, and Chris sobbing and pleading. I slide down the basement stairs, keeping my back to the wall. From the second landing I can see that George’s bedroom door is open.
“Crash!” Out flies a box of video cassette tapes. I quickly peek my head around the corner into George’s room. “I have an unwanted guest in my house and I need the police,” screams George into the receiver.
Chris is in full freak-out mode. He is red in the face and it looks like he has soiled his underwear. To me he looks like a terrified animal that has been cornered. I feel sorry for him.
Chris keeps running at George, who with one hand flips him away like a rag doll. Every time Chris gets pushed away he bounces back and tries to pounce on George. With his other hand, George is covering the mouthpiece on the phone. It’s as if he is embarrassed that the police will hear what is going on, and he needs to keep up appearances with his neighbors.
A thin string of saliva hangs from Chris’ nose and has attached itself to his chin. He is blubbering. Chris makes another dash at George. This time George stops him by punching him dead in the face. There is a “crunching sound” as Chris’ head flies back. A spatter of blood hits the door and lands on my shirt.
“You! You!” Chris begins screaming at me, when he sees whose feet he landed at. “You did this!” he screams, pointing a finger at me before he pounces. He flies into the air and George quickly reaches out and catches him by the back of his neck in midair. Chris makes a gagging noise and flops around like a fish caught on a line. His legs kick and then George flings him into the far wall. Just like in the cartoons, Chris flies upside down into George’s bookshelf. The shelf tips forward. Various things from the shelves land on Chris and bounce off his head.
This has gone too far but I can’t seem to bring myself to stop it. Chris lies motionless on the floor.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 22
George is speaking quickly into the receiver. He is still on the phone with the police dispatcher. Chris just lies there.
Hmmmmmmmm? I think to myself. The police are going to do what, when they arrive and find Chris dead, with George and me standing over him?
I look around the room. It reminds me of a bunker, one you would see on the Movie of the Week; the one where the mad scientist takes boys to his room to eat, watch films, and to torture them. Remember that movie?
Looking around, I can see that the room is stacked from floor to ceiling with books, food, and clothing. There is a full wall with nothing but S&M gear. Masks, whips, chains, and a rubber police uniform hang clearly in spots outlined just for them.
Cleaning the room? Can’t remember where you found that dildo? Put it back on the wall within its own chalk outline. Your cat-o’-nine-tails? It hangs to the left, under those tit clamps.
A giant television set sits directly across from what looks like a king-sized bed. The matching night tables sport several ashtrays overflowing with cigarette butts.
“You heard what happened, you heard how he attacked me, here in my house?” George screams directly into the phone before looking over at me. “My roommate is a witness!”
Suddenly in my mind, I can see the pictures that the police officers took when they broke into serial killer Ed Gein’s house. You know the one who dug up his mother, wore hers and certain other assorted corpses’
skins? Well, it looks like George’s room. Except that now we have a freshly-dead body on the floor and a wall of S&M gear.
George hangs up the phone and crosses the room to Chris. “Get up,” George mutters nudging Chris with his boot. “Get up!” Chris doesn’t move
“He looks dead! He looks dead,” comes Bills shrill voice from behind me. I turn and see Bill on the stairs. His white bathrobe is draped across his arms. One hand sits on his hips; the other hand holds a smoking cigarette. He is bending slightly forward so he can get a better view.
Bill descends the staircase as if he is a character on Dynasty. One hand clutches the railing while the smoking hand has delicately lifted the hem of his robe. Clearly, you don’t want to trip and fall down the stairs when you find a dead body.
On Dynasty they were always finding a dead body, or an illegitimate child. They found ways to deal with it. I’m sure that was Bill’s survival training: various episodes of Dynasty. That, and the various hooker drunk junkies that George would bring home on a semi-monthly basis to have them disappear.
It occurs to me that maybe Bill has buried a lot of bodies. He seems to be handling this all too well.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 23
George lifts up his foot and places his boot on Chris’ forehead. He rocks Chris’ head back and forth.
“Dead, I’m telling you,” Bill says, leaning over the body. A half inch of ash clings to his cigarette. Bill raises his face back up to George and yells, “This is your mess!”
“How the fuck is this my mess?” George hisses back at Bill through clenched teeth. Taking a step forward Bill flicks the ash of his cigarette onto the floor. Then he places both hands on his hips, “Girl, if you didn’t hire these hooker boys at the Water Works Pub, then we wouldn’t be in this mess were in!”
“Mess?” George recoils, stunned.“Correction,” Bill screams, placing one finger in George’s face for dramatic purposes. “Your mess that you are in. I am not in this goddamned mess, nor will I ever be in a goddamned mess with you ever again!” “How is this my mess?” George screams, taking a step back from Chris.
I now realize that I am watching an ex-lovers spat while a dead body lies on the floor between them. That’s when we all hear the siren in the distance. Panicked, this predicament suddenly turns into an episode of The Three Stooges.
Bill and George bounce off of each other, I pivot in place as if trying to run, while I scan the room for something to help us out of this mess. I’m not sure what I am looking for. Bill starts whimpering something about “Dead, not here, gotta go!” while George is muttering directions to everyone.
That’s when Chris coughs. We all stop moving and look at Chris. “Damn, that bitch is alive,” screams Bill.
The siren wails louder. George and Bill bend forward and grab Chris by the arms. As they yank him up to standing, Chris’ head falls backwards and hangs there. “Get him out of the house!” George bellows.
Leading the way, I run up the basement steps. George and Bill are half carrying-half dragging Chris up the stairs. His feet thump on each step as we ascend.
Now George and Bill have begun just dragging Chris up the stairs. Thump, thump, thump! Chris starts to moan. “He’s waking up,” Bill screams.
Bill’s bathrobe has opened. He is wearing large old-man boxer shorts with vertical stripes. Chris begins to yell. It starts as a low guttural primal scream that begins to build in velocity.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 24
George and Bill drag Chris into the kitchen. He is now fully awake and in all out rage mode. His fingertips grasp the door frame as George and Bill try to clear the stairs of the basement. Bill bangs on Chris’ hands to make him let go.
George and Bill have moved into new carrying positions. George has Chris under the arms and Bill holds his legs. Chris is bucking like a horse trying to throw its rider.
“He’s a kicker!” screams Bill, just trying to hang on. “Smash!” go the bottles on the counter as Chris swings an arm, connecting with them and a coffee maker. Chris next connects with his foot. “Bash!” goes a pile of plates, first hitting the wall, then the floor. He arches back and shoots his pelvis towards the ceiling. Bill and George hold on for dear life. Chris sounds like he is speaking in tongues.
“Crack!” goes an overflowing ashtray as it flies to the ground, breaking and scattering. It leaves a cloud of smoke that briefly covers the chaos and coats the trio in ashes and soot.
The kitchen is now filled with a misty haze that reminds me of a picture I once saw as a child. The picture was of two Vietnam vets carrying a wounded comrade off the smoke-filled battlefield. Except that in this case, the reality is that two men are throwing a drunken belligerent street hustler out the front door of their house.
“Fuckers!” screams Chris, as Bill bangs on Chris’ fingers, trying to make him now let go of the counter. Chris’ hand flies off, punching George in the face. In the distance the sound of the siren grows even louder. The cops are clearly on their way here.
I am leading the charge to the front door, clearing the way. The house is in complete disarray. I have seen to that. I am pretty proud of my destruction. I made it look like Chris’ handiwork and that is why we find ourselves in this situation right now.
Side-stepping a knocked-over stool, I slide into the hallway. The dogs continue barking and jumping at their cage as we crash on by. The pictures hanging in the hallway get thrown off their hooks as Chris’ foot hits the wall.
George and Bill have been switching positions from leader to follower, literally spinning Chris ever since we started our demented parade. Chris is screaming, cursing and spitting, and now his other foot connects with Bill’s face. Bill’s glasses come flying off.
“Oh, you’re going to pay for that one,” Bill hisses at Chris. “Fuck you, Fuckety Fucker!” Chris screams back.
The front door is still propped open as they drag Chris towards it. Bill and George flip Chris over and pick him up again, one on each side. Chris, now flying in a Superman pose, is being rushed towards the opening.
I jump onto the landing and quickly move to the side. I turn back just in time to watch George and Bill swinging Chris. “1, 2, 3,” George screams and Chris goes flying out the door, over the stoop, and onto the sidewalk.
He lands with a thud. His chin and hands are on the pavement; his ass is in the air. The less-than-clean underwear Chris is wearing now faces us. A crooked smile leers back at us. Chris’ landing reminds me of Archie Andrews after Smithers has thrown him out of the Lodge Estate.
George brushes his hands together. He has just thrown out the trash. Bill has quickly stepped back in to retrieve his glasses. With one arm crossed around his rumpled robe, he slides his glasses back onto his face.
George steps back into the house. Bill looks at me. “Nice work,” he says.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 25
The police siren grows even louder and within moments we can see the car coming down the street. Chris is lying face-down on the sidewalk. His ass is still in the air as the police car screeches to a halt in front of the house. George steps back onto the front steps, crossing his arms.
The police turn off the siren but not the lights. The lights bathe over George and Chris and make them appear to flicker. A minute passes as the police car sits there with its lights flashing. I can see two policemen reflected in the glass of the windshield as they remain sitting in the front seat.
Chris is barely awake and moaning once again. Bill and I stand slightly back in the vestibule, just out of sight of the police. George is still standing at the top of the stairs with his arms still crossed as he slowly begins shaking his head from side to side. It looks as if he is saying, “No, no, no,” in slow motion.
Chris is now moaning louder and begins to rock himself back and forth. His body teeters and then falls on its side. He kicks his legs as if he is running. Looking like a beaten dog, he begins to piss himself. “Oh for Christ’s sake,” Bill hisses to me. “What a goddamned drama queen!”
I don’t move. It’s too late to stop this, to take this back and make it stop. My heart begins to break as I realize that this is something that I alone have caused. It was a simple ingenious plan that got out of hand fast.
The passenger side of the police car flies open and a rather large, well-fed cop uses the doorframe to help himself get out. After wiggling and squeezing his body out of the car, he stands there red-faced and breathing hard. The driver stays inside the car.
“Afternoon, gentlemen,” the fat cop announces, then giggles as if reconsidering his “gentlemen” statement. He takes three steps forward. “What’s going on?” The question is asked to no one in particular.
Chris spits out large amounts of blood from his mouth. The cop looks at him and makes an “ugh” sound before looking up to George. “Does he need an ambulance?” “Oh no, he’s fine,” responds George. Snot bubbles out of Chris’ nose and mixes with the blood.
Loudly sighing, the cop walks back to the car, leans in and grabs a pair of rubber gloves. The cop’s head pops up and he looks at George. “Does he have AIDS?” he asks, “Because if he does, then we have to suit up.” George shakes his head “yes.”
“Fuck me,” the cop snaps back at George. “Do all of you have AIDS?” he asks. Bill grabs my arm. “What the fuck? He’s not allowed to ask that!” “No,” George responds with a sigh.
All the Nuts aren’t with the Pancakes Part 26
The full brunt of the AIDS epidemic is about to wipe out millions of people. It has already sickened, weakened, and killed several in our community. Everyone is afraid of getting it. Every day we hear a different version of how it spreads. People stop shaking hands and every head cold gets diagnosed as AIDS. We feel as if there is a time stamp on our lives. The world would like us all to go away.
The cop steps forward, opens his book, clicks his pen, and nudges Chris with the toe of his boot. Chris is somewhere between out cold and hanging on. He is groaning quietly.
“Can you get him out of here?” George asks a little too loudly, causing Bill and me to jump. George is looking directly at the cop. “I’m not touching him without a ten foot pole,” says the cop as he continues to nudge Chris with his boot. “But you’re going to kick him?” Bill hisses in my ear.
A long low groan escapes Chris. “He looks pretty fucked up,” responds the cop, rolling Chris onto his side with the help of his boot.
Chris is coming around and begins to sob. “How did he end up here?” the cop asks as he puts pen to paper.
“He needs to be taken to a mental ward and locked up, not kicked around on the sidewalk!” screams Bill, stepping forward. “Hold on, Miss,” the cop says, raising one hand.
“My partner has called an ambulance and since he’s not dead, we have to wait for the ambulance to get here, so if we have to wait, so do you.” The cop then asks if there are any statements we would like to make.
George begins to massage his wrist with his hand before blurting out, “This kid is a hustler, a crook, and a thief. You need to come see what he did to my house!”
George presents the front door with one arm. “Nope, I don’t,” responds the cop as he writes. In the distance the sound of an ambulance siren can be heard.
It is clear to me that I have to move. Now. Far away from this place. In two weeks, I am on my way to Boston.
To be continued…………….