Out to Lunch
“Can I get you something to drink, Mr. Randal?” the waitress asked.
“No thanks ma’am,” he said, “I got some juice boxes out in the truck.”
The waitress clicked her pen into her apron pocket and forced a smile while three boys in flannel shirts at a nearby table raised eyebrows at each other. That old man in jeans and work boots couldn’t possibly be the Mr. Randal. That old creep never came into town.
The three boys fell silent when they heard the bell over the door jangle as Mr. Randall returned to his table through the empty restaurant with a six-pack of juice boxes.
They couldn’t hide their silence and neither could he as he slurped the bottom of his juice box. Setting the empty box down on the table, Mr. Randal turned to the three boys.
“Did I ever tell you about the time them crickets chewed a picture of the Mona Lisa herself into my wheat field?” The three boys shook their heads no, so Mr. Randall launched into story.
He was just finishing another story, one about the time his rooster decided to crow at sunset, when the tired waitress returned to take his order.
“Yes, I’ll have them kid’s chicken nuggets on an adult-sized plate. The old gizzard can’t handle more than six or seven nuggets at a time anymore.” Mr. Randal patted his stomach and the waitress hurriedly jotted down his order.
Mr. Randal kept on telling stories to the boys as the mid-afternoon haze crept in through the windows, even when the waitress brought his food. With nothing to do in the empty restaurant, the waitress sat down at a table in the corner pretending to read Gone with the Wind. Soon though, Mr. Randal’s home-cooked stories filled the air and she gave up the pretense of reading, undid the string of her apron, and settled into her chair with her eyes closed, listening to a story about the time his neighbor’s pig jumped the fence on Halloween and chased away the trick-or-treaters.
The waitress chided herself for dozing off on the job, but no one would care. The restaurant was still empty. She stood up, stretching her arms and moved to clear the tables. As she was clearing Mr. Randal’s table she discovered a napkin with the word TIP scrawled on it alongside an unopened juice box. The waitress just shook her head and smiled, tucking the juice box into her apron pocket for later. What a story to share.