map You Know

by R. A. Rycraft

Published in Issue No. 109 ~ June, 2006

So Pudgy and gay guy come in last Tuesday, as usual. Only this time they

sit at my station instead of the bar – her looking at him all gaga. And it’s

not like he’s one of those
pretty ones. You know the ones – too pretty to be real. Eye candy. I mean,

it’s obvious she’s got to know this guy’s not rowing with both oars in the
water – making a complete fool
of herself, dressed like it’s a special occasion or something. She still looks

slutty. And Kenny, the bartender – you met him, right? – he’s a bit of a

slut himself, you know, standing behind the bar, watching her skirt, the
stretchy spaghetti string top, white with no bra. She keeps yanking at it, but

it rides up, shows her rolls. And she thinks she’s so sexy, leaning over,
making sure gay guy sees her tits. As if he gives a shit.

I’m wishing they were sitting at the bar. They give me the creeps, you

know. But Kenny, he says they’re okay. Whatever on that one!

The drinks are up for my other tables, so I serve them first – a couple

of giggly soccer moms, yakking over strawberry daiquiris, and this guy that
looks like Jack Nicholson – those evil eyebrows – he’s on his fifth vodka
martini, straight up, very dry with a twist. Sasha has brought Pudgy and gay

guy a basket of oyster crackers, and I take my tray of dirty dishes
to the bar before going over.

I’m walking to the table, and you shoulda seen Pudgy’s face! She wasn’t

looking so gaga anymore. Looked more like she wants to cry but won’t because

she doesn’t know
if she can stop. She’s staring out the window, and I think he’s talking about

something really important because he’s all into it – hands moving, stupid
little mustache jumping around
on his lip, face all serious and intense. And then I hear him say – Married

man with three
kids and a needy wife. What do you do with that?

And I’m thinking, Oh my God! Which one? Him or her? What do you do with


She looks away from the window, sees me coming, and she says, You change

the subject.

And I’m thinking, I really want to hear this.

Hi, I say, What can I get you?

She is so pale. I mean that gray kinda pale that makes you think about

learning CPR.

Two double vodka rocks, she says.

She’s taking slow, deep breaths, fingers fiddling with her waistband. I

hurry to the bar and give Kenny the order. He pours them quick. I take the

drinks to their table, set them down, and start to walk away, but she stops

We’d like something to eat, she says. The potato skins with everything on

them. And the Mountain. Maybe some dessert later. Oh, and a glass, she says.

She tries to smile, but it looks more like gas pains, and all the while she’s

kneading her stomach.

Sure, I say, but I’m thinking – Honey, this ain’t gonna help. I mean,

you’ve seen
the Mountain, right? It’s like two pounds of chili cheese fries with onions,

sour cream, everything.

A little later when I bring them another basket of crackers, she’s
finished her drink and orders another.

Before I pick up her empty glass, she’s grabbing more crackers and
stuffing them in her mouth.

You all right? I say.

She nods and takes a sip of water. Just need to eat, she says.

I see the Jack Nicholson guy waving his glass at me. He looks like he

might cry if I don’t hurry.

So I go tell Kenny to make the guy another martini. Give Sasha the
table, I say. I’ll tip her out.

When I put the potato skin and the Mountain on their table, Pudgy doesn’t

wait for me to leave like most people do. She starts right in, forking the
Mountain. She uses her fingers to push more cheese and onions on the fries
then lifts them to her nose. God, this smells good, she says. I haven’t had

chili fries in a hundred years.

Gay guy picks at a potato skin, scrapes the toppings off, and pushes them

to the side of his plate. He slices the potato into three delicate pieces.

Dips one in the salsa and pops it in his mouth.

She perks up a little. Laughs. She grabs gay guy’s plate and scrapes

the rejected cheese and sour cream onto the chili fries.

I squeeze her shoulder as I walk away – like I do everybody – only she

looks up at me like she’s surprised. She smiles real nice. But not
happy-like. More like relief, I think. And
I wonder about that as I go off to pick up the soccer moms’ bill. Keep the
change, one says. A dollar and twenty-eight cents on a fifty dollar tab!
(Right then I’d like to play soccer with those two tight asses.)

While I’m bussing the stingy bitches’ table, I glance back at Pudgy and

see that she’s eaten half the Mountain. She’s just put another bite in her
mouth, licking her fingers. I dump the plates at the station, pick up the
vodka order, and head back to their table.

I hardly ever eat like this, she says. Tomorrow things are gonna

So you’re celebrating, I say. Dressed up all pretty for a night out?

I don’t know about that, she says. She points to a chili stain on the
white top. Guess I should’ve asked for a bib, she says. She dips her napkin

in the glass of water and wipes.

I go back to the station, and Sasha’s there, looking at Pudgy, shaking her


God, she’s such a pig.

She don’t feel good, I say.

Coulda fooled me, Sasha says.

I give her one of my cram it looks and go back to their table. I put
down a stack of napkins. How are your drinks?

We’re good, he says. No more for me. Pam?

Guess not, she says. She dabs at her lip, her forehead. Maybe I’ll just

go to the ladies room and wet my face, she says,

When she stands up, I see that her top’s riding real high. And – her
belly! It’s not just rolls of fat. It’s swollen, pooching out like a melon.

I look at her empty glass, then I look at him. And I think what the hell is


Two decaff coffees, he says. And we’d like to have one of those hot fudge

brownie things.

Most of my tables are empty now, except for the Jack Nicholson guy, who’s

licking the rim of his empty martini glass, winking at me, and I’m thinking I

better cut that guy off unless he promises to take a taxi home. By the time

she gets back to the table, I’ve cleared away
the dirty plates and empty glasses. I’m getting antsy because it’s almost
9:00, and you know what that means. The band starts, and so does the rush.

I go into the kitchen to make up their dessert myself, a warm brownie a la

mode with extra hot fudge. I whirl lots of whipped cream on top. I bring it

to them with their coffee.

Everything okay? I say.

Fabulous, she says. She looks at the dessert and takes a slow, deep
breath. Her hand rests on her stomach. How did I miss that?

Enjoy your treat, I say. She nods but doesn’t pick up her spoon.

When I go by Sasha, she says, How’s the ho doing? She looks like she’s

going to heave.

Shut up, Sasha, I say.

I look over at their table. Pudgy’s picked up her spoon. It’s poised
like she’s ready to dig in but she just sits there, holding the spoon, staring

at the glob of whipped cream, the chocolate syrup dripping. She looks

How you doin? I ask her.

We’re through, she says. Asks for the check.

And then they disappear. Just like that. When I pick up the check,
they’re gone. Left a big tip, though. Nine bucks. After the rush, I close,

go home. You know how I am. I get home that late, I’m too wired to go to bed.

So I clean the kitchen and take a shower. I’m in there, standing with my face

and boobs in the warm water, and it feels good pouring over my stomach. And I

think about work and decent tips and tomorrow, and I wish I hadn’t served her

so much booze.

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R.A. Rycraft has published stories, essays, and poetry in a number of journals and anthologies, including PIF Magazine, Perigee, VerbSap, The MacGuffin, and Calyx. Winner of the Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor's Choice Award for 2008, Rycraft lives in Sun City, California.