“That bastard,” Samantha said, shaking. “He’s here with another woman.”
“I’ve told you,” Val said. “Pieces of shit, every one of them.”
The line cook craned his neck. “Pick up, already! Crap’s getting cold!”
“Are you a moron?” Val barked. “Give her a minute.”
Samantha whispered. “I wanted him dead.”
“Honey, if my vibrator could shovel snow, I’d kill them all.”
Samantha wanted to kill just one of them. Biting her lip, she pointed at table seven. Valerie peered into the dining area. “Tanned Boy with the bimbo?”
“Yes.” She started crying. Valerie drew her into a tight embrace.
“He’s the one…” Samantha began.
“Sweetie, don’t.” As Val slowly rocked, Samantha’s panicked breaths gave way to memories of alcohol-infused nights and shared dreams of revenge. Val said she’d return to Tennessee, her grandfather’s Colt Peacemaker at her side. She’d find her ex and put one between his eyes. “Because that’s how you deal with those fuckers,” Val liked to say. Samantha thought she’d see the bastard on the subway platform, then come up from behind, shove him over the edge, and watch him fall onto the tracks.
The line cook slammed his fist. “Pick up!”
Valerie glared, then whispered to Samantha. “Sweetie, I’ll take his table.” She smiled. “And I’ll shit in his food.”
“No, Val,” Samantha said. “I’ll do it.” She laughed. “I mean, I’ll take care of the table.”
“Honey, you don’t have to.”
“I do. I won’t let that girl be his next.” Samantha pointed to the plates. “Val, can you take that to table nine? I need a smoke.”
Samantha stepped out of the kitchen, walked across the lot, and sat in her car. She lit a cigarette, watched the smoke, and wondered how to warn her.
“We hung out in the same crowd,” Samantha said to the sandy blonde woman when she came to take their order. It was a lie, but Samantha needed a way to connect with her. “At college.” She bit her lip, praying the sandy blonde made it out of high school.
“You were at Cedar Community?”
“In some of your classes.” Samantha hated when her mouth kept running.
“I don’t remember,” she said, and then touched Tanned Boy’s hand. “Kyle, do you remember?” He pivoted, put a hand over his smartphone, and stared at Samantha. She felt as if his eyes were tearing at her clothes, again. If he was looking for an autumn brunette with bruises and blood-soaked underwear, he wouldn’t find her. That Samantha died when she fled his apartment. This Samantha has spiked, rooster-red hair and chewed fingernails.
“Nope.” Kyle went back to his phone.
She exhaled, realizing just then that she was holding her breath. Samantha jotted down her number on a guest check, placed it in front of the young woman, and whispered, “I’m Sam.”
“Lindsey,” the young woman said.
Kyle looked up. Lindsey kissed him on the cheek. “Girl talk.” Then she ordered their food.
“Sweetie, what happened?” Val said.
Samantha was shaking, flooded with memories of that horrible night. “He seemed so sweet. We danced all night, then went to his place ‘for a bit of wine.’ I blacked out. My clothes were everywhere.” Her face was reddening. Tears were streaming. “That bastard pulled out a bat from under the bed. He pushed it in. I bit him hard. He yelled but didn’t stop. Val, he wouldn’t stop.”
Val held Samantha close, and walked her out the back of the kitchen. She lit two cigarettes, handing one to Samantha. As they watched the smoke snake its way through the light snowfall, Val sensed that Samantha was calming down. “Should I get the Colt?”
Samantha laughed. “Val, why aren’t you my mother?”
“I am. I just didn’t give birth to you.” Val grinned. “So tell Mama what you did when you went to the table.”
“I gave her my phone number.”
“Do you think she’ll call?”
Samantha paused, wiped at a few tears. “If she doesn’t want to look like this,” she tugged on her rooster-red hair, “she’ll call.”
“I had heart problems, from birth,” Kyle said, as his muscular arm encircled Lindsey. “I was stuck inside the house and all my buds were outside.” He spun his phone like a coin. “When I got older, I went to the gym. A lot of cardio and pumping iron.” He drew her closer. She gazed at the shimmering hazel-brown lures, and gently laid her head on his arm.
“Seven. Pick up.”
Samantha took a deep breath. She grabbed the plates, walked into the dining area, and came up to Kyle and his prey.
“Your salad. And your burger.” She regretted not shitting on his plate.
Kyle reached for the ketchup and knocked over a glass. Water rushed in every direction, soaking the paper that had Samantha’s phone number, then running off the table edge. Lindsey jumped, but not fast enough.
Samantha stared at Lindsey’s wet jeans, then reached into her apron. No napkins. “Maybe dry them with the hand dryer in the ladies’ room?”
Lindsey stepped behind Kyle and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Honey, I’ll make it quick. Don’t miss me too much.” He grinned, then squirted ketchup on his hamburger. A busboy sopped up the mess. Samantha pointed to the restroom. “I’ll come by in a few to see how you’re doing.”
“Thanks. You really don’t have to.”
She had to.
Samantha darted out the kitchen and into the falling snow. “The fucker. That motherfucker.” She slammed a fist into her thigh. “He didn’t want Lindsey calling me.” She slammed her thigh again. And again. And again. Sam. Get it together. Tears ran down. You have to do this. She pulled out a cigarette. It fell onto the snow. Shit. She took another, lit it, and pulled in a deep drag. Tell her. Deep drag. Tell her what? Mr. Gorgeous is a rapist? She laughed. Slow, deep drag. No, idiot. The truth. How he does it. Another drag. The bronzed Adonis will reveal his fatal flaw, a weak heart. You’ll be his shield against the world, and at a tender moment, your Adonis will become the Devil, and you’ll become his next victim. She imagined Lindsey’s reaction. ‘How do you know this?’ she’d say. I’d tell her I didn’t always look like this, that I used to be beautiful, but after the attack…. She took another drag. Listen to me. Get out now. Run and don’t look back. She took one more drag, dropped the cigarette into the snow, and headed to the ladies’ room.
“You’re so sweet,” Lindsey said as Samantha walked in. Samantha paused, eyeing Kyle’s new prey: alabaster complexion, firm, slender legs, sheer red panties. Delicate, and in danger. She bit her lip, steadying herself for what she had to say.
“I don’t….” Samantha clenched her fist, took a deep breath, and spoke louder. “Lindsey. I don’t know how to start….”
“Sam?” Lindsey was puzzled.
Samantha felt her cheeks burn. Tears were streaming. “Lindsey. Get out.”
“Sweetie, my pants are still wet.”
Samantha grabbed Lindsey’s arms. “You don’t understand.” Her head was throbbing. Her vision a blur. “Run! He keeps a bat!” Lindsey squirmed out of Samantha’s grip.
“You’re crazy.” Lindsey quickly put on her jeans and shoes, and left. Samantha ran out, dashed across the dining room into the kitchen, out the back and into her car. Where the hell is it? Samantha yanked a white paper bag from the back seat and opened the bottle, spilling capsules on the seat and floor. She put two in her mouth, swallowed hard, then held onto the steering wheel, waiting for the migraine to subside. Picking up the medication insert that came with the prescription, she decided for the first time to read it. Nothing was in English, until she read the warning: May induce cardiac problems in those with a history of cardiovascular disease.
“Where have you been?” Val said to Samantha.
“Can’t talk now, Val. I have to get to my tables.”
Samantha frantically made the rounds, apologizing for her absence, pushing off the inevitable. She took a deep breath, slowly exhaled, then went to their table.
“Anything else? Coffee?” Samantha said.
“Yes,” Lindsey said. “Kyle, you’ll have coffee, right?”
Samantha returned with two cups. Kyle leaned back in his chair, watching Samantha walk back to the kitchen. She returned a short time later with their check. They were laughing, and they hadn’t touched the coffee.
“In the movie,” Kyle said with a smirk, ‘the other guy says, ‘I know that my cup was poisoned but you want me to think that it’s not poisoned.’” He then switched cups with Lindsey, giving her the cup with the small grease mark, the cup that had ten dissolved migraine pills. Kyle then leaned back in his chair, looked squarely at Samantha, and smiled.