The frat boys came into the diner every Sunday morning to nurse their hangovers with grease and caffeine. They always made a grab for Karen’s ass and left lousy tips. Still, a bad tip is better than no tip at all. That morning there was a new guy with them. He had his head on the table.
“Do you know what you’d like?” she asked as she turned poured coffee.
“I sure do,” said the smarmiest one, staring at the neckline of her uniform.
Karen said nothing. She pasted a look of indifference on her face and waited with her pen poised to write. They got the hint and rattled off their orders.
“What about your friend?” she asked nodding towards the kid resting his head on the table.
“Get him the lumberjack special with the eggs runny,” the leader of the pack said. “A big breakfast will set him right.”
“No!” the boy whispered. He lifted his head slightly. His amber-colored eyes were bloodshot and bleary. He said, “Just toast… please.”
Karen smiled. These guys never said “please” or “thank you”. She felt a faint trace of pity for the boy’s self-inflicted wounds.
As she walked away, the greasy one said, “Nice going Hank. You got a smile out of the ice princess. Maybe next time I should come in I should be all red-eyed and bushy-tongued.”
“Maybe she smiled because I’m not a dickhead,” the nice one said.
Karen suppressed a laugh as she handed the order over to Freddy. By the time she returned with their food the nice guy was sitting up and looking less bleary-eyed.
“Thanks,” he said when she set his toast down. The other boys looked a little surprised and also mumbled their thanks.
When Karen went to clear the table, most of the frat boys had left. But the nice one was still there.
“How was your toast?” she asked.
“Best toast I ever had. What’s the secret ingredient?”
“Bread?” Karen said awkwardly. Usually the frat boys only gave orders and made dirty remarks. They never made conversation.
“Did anyone ever tell you, you look like Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride.”
Karen laughed. No one had ever said that, but she secretly thought so herself.
“Thanks. Do you need change?” she asked picking up the bill.
“No. It’s all set. I’m Henry, by the way.”
“Can I have your number so I can call you some time.”
“Oh… um… I don’t have a phone…”
“It’s okay, you can just say no. There’s no need to lie.”
“I don’t tell lies. My mom and I can’t afford a phone. Have a nice day.”
She felt her face flush as she walked away leaving a trail of toast crusts. Of course he would think it was a lie. What kind of a family doesn’t have a phone in 1965?
Four hundred words or less, fiction or creative non-fiction, linked up on Friday morning’s post, based on one of the following definitions:
flavor |ˈflāvər| ( Brit. flavour)
1 the distinctive quality of a particular food or drink as perceived by the taste buds and the sense of smell : the chips come in pizza and barbecue flavors.
• the general quality of taste in a food : no other cracker adds so much flavor to cheese or peanut butter.
• a substance used to alter or enhance the taste of food or drink; a flavoring : we use vanilla and almond flavors.
• [in sing.] figurative an indefinable distinctive quality of something : this year’s seminars have a European flavor.
• [in sing.] figurative an indication of the essential character of something : the extracts give a flavor of the content and tone of the conversation.