Suzie’s Steak And Eggs
Hugo was picking at steak gristle between two of his teeth with a complimentary toothpick when Larry first showed the signs. Picking at gristle, and thinking about how a man is never more in touch with his mortality than when he’s scrutinising his teeth.
Hair starts going, you get a hat, or a wig, or go bald graceful. Vanity bites at you, but he knew a few guys who lost it in their twenties. It wasn’t a sign that you were losing out to life, is how he figured it.
You get a little fat, you always figure if you did some exercise, cut down on the full Sunday platter or ate a few less of Suzie’s steak and eggs specials, you’ll get back to your original figure. You always figure there’s time, some time later on. Hugo knew grandfathers and older who still thought like that. And you could be a fat fuck any time in your life.
But your teeth… without a lot of money and a lot of work, your teeth will never be as good as they are right now. Or as they were yesterday. And they never feel quite good enough.
Hugo was just thinking about how he didn’t think he’d spent a whole day without thinking a little too hard about how his teeth were steadily deteriorating since he couldn’t remember. Since he was a kid, and he still knew he had another set to come so it didn’t matter if he lost a few. And that’s when Larry started getting irritable.
“This place is busy as fuck.” Larry grumbled. “Been trying to catch Suzie’s eye for ten minutes now. This ain’t reasonable.”
Hugo recognised the signs and figured he should step up, try and avoid any problems later.
“Hey, Suzie!” He called over to the waitress, at a nearby table. She half nodded, hearing, but kept on taking this other guy’s order.
“Busy as fuck.” Larry muttered.
Hugo kept working at his teeth, tried to keep his head down.
A couple of minutes later, he looked up again, and saw that Larry was grizzling, looking over at Suzie, who was still taking the same order. Hugo didn’t get it – Suzie’s usually quick as hell.
He tuned into the conversation she was having with the flustered guy at the table. The guy looked skittish, confused over something on the menu. He’d picked his meal, but was working through the details on the steak sauce, trying to choose between the peppercorn and the mustard-mayo. He couldn’t decide.
A look over at Larry showed he was listening too. He shifted in his seat, arm moving against him where Hugo couldn’t see, and Hugo tried to say something to stop his buddy, but nothing came quick enough. The big fuck could move pretty quick for a big fuck.
Hugo stood quick, chair hitting the ground with a clutter behind him, but Larry was already up and yelling, and Hugo just had to stand there like a spare dick at a spare dick party.
“What the fuck!” Larry was yelling, waving his gun around the place, not really pointing it at anyone. The place fell completely silent, everyone with their eyes on the piece. “What the fuck! Everybody… every fucking body! Be quiet!” He yelled, drops of spit catching the light, not really registering that everybody was already quiet.
“What’s the matter, Larry?” Suzie said, her eyes on him. Not so scared.
“I don’t know, Suzie. What seems to be the matter?” He replied, fierce.
“This gentleman was just choosing his sauce, is all. Why don’t you keep it down?”
“I figured, the guy just couldn’t concentrate…” Larry said, calmer. “…now it’s quiet, and he can think better.”
Hugo rolled his eyes, realised Larry was going to deal with what Larry was going to deal with, one way and another. He sat down, resolved to wait it out.
Larry stood over the guy at the table, now. The guy looked terrified.
“What’s it going to be, mister?” Larry said, gun on the guy’s nose. “The pepper sauce is sharp, but it’s going to be reminding you how good it is the rest of the day. The mustard-mayo, it’s lighter, and cooler, but there’s garlic undercurrent in there that’s going to stick with you and you ain’t even going to realise it till you pull up close to someone.”
“I…” The guy said, and Hugo flinched, realising that this dude didn’t get it. That he was still exercising his right to choose. Larry saw it too.
He waved the gun harder in the guy’s face, focussing his attention.
“Pepper!” The guy blurted. “I’ll have the pepper sauce.”
Larry put the gun away, and said “There you go. Write it down, Suzie.” He turned back to the guy and said “enjoy your meal, mister.”
Larry came back to the table, the bustle of the diner picking up around him, now that the gun was away. Almost as an afterthought, he turned back, arm over the back of his chair, and called amiably “Suzie, can we get the bill over here, honey?”
“Sure, hon.” Came the reply.
Hugo stared at his friend in disbelief.
“What?” Larry said, hands out, smile broad.
“Seriously, every fucking day? Every one?”
Larry shrugged. Suzie came over with the refill jug, and a slip of paper. Hugo rolled his eyes, and went back to his teeth.
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