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Surely no greater travesty has been handed mankind than unbuttered toast! The wrinkly sow of a waitress—bless her heart!—must be standing on the decrepit diving-board of life, for a person in possession of a sound mind wouldn’t even dream of handing a fellow this distasteful jest on a plate; let alone to an outstanding gentleman with indistinguishable and unquestionable merit such as I, the respectable Jacob Trevors. I cannot stand to mop up the scrumptious, greasy residue that my bacon and eggs offer without a sponge that is properly anointed with creamy goodness! Man must not live on coffee alone! What has happened to a quality, American breakfast? I will be heard on this matter, d***it!
She’s off at the counter, ringing someone up at the register, guffawing heartily with her raspy smoker’s voice—her ears haven’t caught my call. I am a loud man, and addressed her with volume that many would consider appropriate and polite! Perhaps this woman is much older than I thought! I believe she should invest her paycheck into something profitable: a good hearing-aid would suffice. The benefits that would spring forth from that investment would be manifold for multiple parties; the cost of the instrument would pale in comparison if the injustice being done to me were reversed!
“You’re shaking the table with your knees, you know,” says my partner in dining.
My longing gaze towards the painfully jocose hag is broken and I rest my eyes on the charming young lady sitting across from me. I calm down briefly as my heart and mind are softened by the pleasant qualities of my counterpart. Though she is but of a tender age of twelve years, her countenance is one that heralds peace, tranquility. I am confidant she will be the heart’s desire of countless pubescent boys one day—and I hope I can instill in her enough sense to swat them away like flies.
“Sorry, dear,” I reply. “You know how I get when I’m anxious.”
Her warm brown eyes survey my plate and look in mine afterwards. “Let me guess: no butter?”
I allow myself a chuckle. “Bingo, kiddo.”
Her pale hands flash across the top of the table, fingering with the napkin dispenser and making way to the miniature tubs of jellies. An instant Mason, she expertly crafts a tiny pyramid out of grape and strawberry jams, inspecting each label on every package scrupulously.
“What are you looking for?” I say at last.
Topping her masterwork with a rare apple-butter, she rests her face thoughtfully on a palm. “I thought there might be a butter packet around here,” she admits.
“One would think,” I agree. “Try looking around in the creamer bin.”
A few seconds pass as she plays out my suggestion. She gives me a square wrapped in gold foil. “Land-O-Lakes—the best butter ever.”
I finger off the wrapper and lay the heap of yellow on the edge of my plate. I spoon off a tiny portion of the butter and pop it in my mouth for consideration, rubbing the stuff against the roof of my mouth.
I mull it over with a pouty lip and finally shrug. “It’s cold.”
“Try putting some on your toast.”
I do so. To my dismay, the butter isn’t melting in the slightest. However, I crunch a bite of the whole-wheat triangle and swallow harshly. Dry. Coarse. Gritty. Charred. All in all, the toast was a cheap fabrication of a classic staple of breakfast eating. It was insult to injury to lubricate it with a veil that failed to mask blatant imperfections. What should have been a glorious marriage brought about by passionate love instead tasted like a stiff arranged marriage of flaccid proportions. Where was the familiar and exciting lovemaking that one associates with toast? It was banished—denied entry to my mouth and replaced with s***.
“Your knees are shaking the table again.”
“I know,” I say with a heavy sigh. “They do so for good reason.”
Her brow rises in anticipation. “What’re you gonna— ”
I scan the aisle of booths in search of Mrs. Wrinkle-Bag. Quick search, thankfully. She’s waddling our way holding a pot of Joe—about time. Wait. She’s pausing to shoot the breeze with an arthritic neighbor of ours; they’re piercing my ears with their clucking; they begin to pat the other on the arm between giggles; by Mary!—am I to suffer delayed service?
I clear my throat, adding some phlegm for good measure. “WAITRESS!”—she turns ever so slightly, eyes like saucers—“May I have a word with you, please?”
Granny approaches our table, face reddened with embarrassment. “How can I help you, hon?”
“Well—” I start.
“Can I top you off?” She interrupts, pouring the stinky motor oil in my mug.
My cup is full halfway before I slap at her hand. “I’ve had enough coffee this morning, thank you!”
“What the h*ll, junior?”
“Right,” I say, nodding. “What the h*ll? That just about sums it up.”
“Sums what up?” Quoth the indignant, Wheezing Harlot.
“My dissatisfaction with my dining experience at this culinary establishment: what the h*ll?”
I receive a roll of the eyes in return. “What seems to be the problem, then?”
I grab my half-eaten slice of toast and hastily rip off a chunk for chewing; after due process, I eject the wet wad on her person. The wheat spitball hit my target as desired—initially hitting her hand and then bouncing off it to splash in the coffeepot. Scalding Columbian excellence leapt out of the pot by consequence and assaulted my saucy waitress. Shattering glass tickled my ears soon thereafter—the waitress now stood in a black puddle.
Looking upon the wretched state of the aging beast, I couldn’t help but laugh. There she was in front of me—dressed stained, face contorted, veins popping—panting like a beaten dog; resembling a miffed, graying b**** more than deserving of being put down. What a shame that such ugly things were allowed to exist in the universe! The absurdity of her being was a humorous nuisance! I had no choice but to hurl my laughter at her—she needed to know the extremity of her ridiculousness!
Throughout my incontrollable tittering, I could barely make the many gasps and screams projected at my recent actions. Hearing hindered, I enjoyed myself immensely, holding my sides in grand gesture. Correcting my mistake of remaining unaware was nigh impossible in my silliness—even when I heard thundering footsteps behind me. When I was pulled from my hysteria by the shirt collar to come face to face with a sobering, slobbering present, I found myself only faintly amused.
My oppressor was a bulky block of lard. Stubble speckled his lumpy face, yet that trace of testosterone couldn’t cover up his boyish, babyish, doughy demeanor. “Hey, pal,” he said, voice surprisingly low. “I don’t take to customers spittin’ on muh waitresses.”
I smiled, putting a few teeth in it. “You don’t say!”
He grunted. “I do. No one f***s around with ‘em.”
“Are you sure?” I ask, doing my best impression of a Bronx accent. “Even old broads like her?”
Doughboy drew me closer with a rough tug. “Very sure,” he replied. “Especially women like Marge. Respect your f***in’ elders, man.”
“Marge, you say?” I begin to cackle again.
“That’s her name.”
“How delicious,” I remark, “how delightfully cliché!”
He unclenched his hand from my shirt. Wiping it off as if I were dirty! “Mister,” he says. “I’m the manger here and I think you better go right quick.”
“Scum like you won’t get to eat here.”
“Scum?” I scoff.
“You heard me. Now apologize to Marge and leave,” He then moved his blank stare to the other side of my table and addressed my darling little girl. “I’m sorry you have a daddy that acts like this in public.”
That did it. In an upstart, I bounded out of my seat and pointed a long finger at the sonofabitch. “HOW DARE YOU! I’LL BE GLAD TO LEAVE!”
“I’M SORRY I PUT THE S*** YOU CALL FOOD INTO MY MOUTH!”
“Alright,” the manager breathed. “I think you’re done. Get your daughter and move along.”
I was fuming. Every breath I took escaped me in loud huffs. I marched to her side of the booth and extended a hand. “Let’s go,” I commanded.
Hark! What’s this angel doing? She’s shrinking away from me! “Come now, dear,” I say quietly, voice wavering. “It’s time to leave this place.”
She shakes her head vigorously, crawling into the farthest reaches of the booth, arms laced around her legs. Do I detect fear in her eyes? “Listen to your father, girl,” I state seriously, each word a concrete block smashing down.
No response, no movement. This will not do. I lunged for her, my hand flailing to cling to her flesh—Marge became a barrier. “I don’t think she wants to go with you, hon,” the ancient b**** said mildly.
I am taken aback. “What? No—that’s nonsense! She’s my daughter and we’re going.”
I drew my hand back and, with clenched fist, rid myself of Marge with a sound blow. God, it felt good to finally hit the b****. “I’M YOUR FATHER!” I shriek. “WE’RE GOING NOW!”
“No,” my girl whispers. “You’re not my father.”
“NEVER MAKE UP LIES LIKE THAT!”
I dive for my beloved girl, but am rewarded with blubber. Mr. Pillsbury the manager has body-slammed me. “JACK!” He bellows. “Where is he? Is Jack here? JACK!?”
I’m pulled up back to my feet. My hands are held hostage behind me by the mangers plump sausage-hands. I see a balding constable head cautiously towards our spectacle in his blue garb, rolled-up newspaper tucked in arm. “I’m here, Frank,” he said to the manager.
Jack sits down at my booth. He takes my girl’s hand and says, “Excuse me, but did you say that this lunatic isn’t your father?”
Jack starts to unroll his paper. “Are you sure?”
She nods again gradually, a single tear trickling down her cheek.
Jack flattens his paper on the side of the table, and then reads the front page, jaw dropping lower as his eyes dart about. “Jesus Christ,” he looks up from the newsprint. “She’s right.”
I will not tolerate these fallacies! “YOU LIE! I AM JACOB TREVORS AND SHE IS MY DAUGHTER!”
Silence—no one responds to me.
“I am Jacob Trevors,” I repeat emphatically, “and that is my daughter, Amy Trevors.”
“Is your name Amy Trevors?” Jack questions.
She beams through her now rapidly streaming tears. “No.”
Jack allows himself a grin. “I thought so,” he taps his paper. “Her real name is Heather Wiles. She’s been missing for about a month now. We’ve found her.”