“Fuck!” I exclaimed loudly, almost dropping the burger flat to the floor.
Tommy looked at me with searing eyes. The old grump crossed his arms and gave me a smirk, clearly proud of what he had just accomplished. My other customer just stared from the booth, eyes wide.
Tommy turned back to the grump and whispered something while giving him a quick pat on the back. His turned his attention back on me, closing the distance with a restrained walk while grinding his teeth.
I gathered my composure and then tossed the burger to the man in the booth. He looked at it warily. Onions had fallen off the patty to the plate during the whole scene.
I gave him a curteous smile and said, “Sorry about that. We can make another if you’d–” but the man brushed me off and gather edhis coat.
“No thanks,” he muttered. “That old man was right about this place.”
“Sir, would you like….” Tommy’s wirey voice stated from behind me, but the man waved him off and continued out the door.
I watched him go then casually slid into the booth, pretending that Tommy’s eyes weren’t trying to bore through my skull. I took the basket and started eating some of the fries, balancing a bit of greasy onion on a few.
Tommy sighed loudly and slid in across from me. I sighed back, waiting for a reaction but he just stared through those ridiculous round glasses. I gave him a once over, secrectly glad he at least decided to not wear his fedora today. The skinny jeans with suspenders was enough. Sometimes I thought he dressed that way to make up for his lack of hair.
“Paige, Paige, Paige, “ his voice dwindled. “What are we to do with you.”
“Jane made it wrong, “ I snapped. “You can’t blame me for that.”
Tommy cocked his head. “True, true. But what about serving the coffee or that little offensive blurb you let out a bit ago? Hmm?” He pushed his glasses up his nose. I hate that habit.
I finished off the fries, giving no reply.
“And the woman yesterday that complained about your attitude? Or the man last week that said you spat in his food because he said he liked Coldplay?”
I chuckled. That guy needed a wake up call.
Tommy let out a long sigh. “See that’s just the problem with you. You don’t care about anyone but yourself.”
I kept my eyes trained on the vinyl booth behind him, not daring to look up. I had heard this one too many times before. You would think at some point I might actually listen, but there was just something wrong in the way everybody said it. What was so wrong in being selfish sometimes? So what that I cared a little more about myself than others.
Tommy snapped his fingers in my face. “Hey, Paige. I’m trying to talk to you – to understand – but you’re not helping me here.” He bit his lower lip. “I think I’m going to have to fire you.”
I finally turned to him, more amused by his choice of words than the true weight of them. I think, that is how Tommy would phrase such a thing. He squirmed in his seat, moving his hands from the table to his face. I watched as the discomfort rose in the form of small bumps radiating on his neck.
“Jesus Christ, Tommy. Are you getting hives from this?” I said, suddenly alarmed.
“Maybe,” he mumbled and began scratching furiously at his neck. Clearly half firing someone was even too stressful. Tommy might really be the delicate man I had ever known. How had this guy ever come to run a restaurant?
“Okay.” I stood up and began taking off my apron. I ran my fingers across the border then tossed it to him. “I will save you the trouble. I quit.”
Tommy gave a slight nod, as if he considered this option and began folding the apron. “I’ll have your last paycheck tomorrow. Just come by around one.”
I grinned and squeezed him on the shoulder. He gave one last somber look as I walked towards the door. I saw Jane standing in the kitchen door way shaking her head. I waved, knowing we would talk later.
I could not have asked for better timing. Not having a job would only lend itself to more time to plan. In some strange way I owed the grump a thank you. Easy stuff, I repeated the phrase in my head. That’s all I had to keep telling myself. Killing a man could be easy, right?