Seth admired the small café’s unassuming ambiance, cheerful décor, and mouthwatering menu. I should surprise Melanie and bring her here for dinner. She loves restaurants like this. Gotta hand it to Bill; he knows how to pick obscure spots. I’ve never even heard of this place.
“So, what do you recommend, Bill? Everything on the menu sounds delectable.”
“I think I’ve tried everything here and, honestly, I’ve never once been disappointed. My only recommendation is save room for dessert…it’s to die for.”
Unable to resist, Bill’s guests immediately flipped to the back of the menu to peruse the desserts. There was something to fill every craving: light and airy, rich and decadent, sinfully sweet, even moderately healthy. Seth’s mouth watered as he read the descriptions. Whoever wrote these missed their calling; writing is in their blood. For a moment he actually considered skipping the meal and just ordering a sample of desserts but, even for Seth, behavior like that was extreme. Instead, flipped back to the lunch specials to deliberate some more.
“Back again, Bill?” The waitress barely noticed the other patrons at the table. Her toothpaste ad smile was solely for the detective. “You bring someone new with you every time you dine here. We ought to put you on the payroll as our head of marketing.”
“What can I say, Chloe? Between the exquisite food and remarkable service…I’m hooked.”
The detective smiled warmly making Seth wonder if there was more to their relationship than just patron and waitress. Before he could scrutinize their exchange some more, the waitress looked at the rest of the table and shrieked.
“Oh my God! Are you? I can’t believe it! Bill, I thought you were lying when you said you knew him.” Chloe the waitress suddenly became Chloe the fan-girl as she squealed to Seth. “I’m your biggest fan. Holy crap! I’ve read all your books at least a million times and…I know it’s really unprofessional but could I have your autograph? Please? I have your latest novel, Serial, in the back. While I’m putting in the table’s drink order, I’ll grab it.”
As it always did when people praised his work, Seth’s face resembled a pomegranate and his cheeked burned as if he had a fever. While he loved knowing that his work touched people, he just didn’t understand the praise. Others always seemed far more worthy of that acclaim. Chloe; however, hadn’t noticed. She was too excited but the others at his table had.
“You could fry an egg on his cheeks,” Kim laughed. “Look how red he is.”
“Stop teasing him. I find it refreshing that he isn’t a smug bastard,” Angela chimed in.
By the time Chloe returned, Seth’s face was on the verge of bursting into flame but he took the time to write a heartfelt message on the title page. She was gushing with excitement as she read the inscription aloud.
“To my kind friend Chloe; Oh my gosh…Do you see that?” She squealed, turning the page around for all to see. “He called me his friend! I can’t wait to show this to--”
“Miss! I only have a thirty minute lunch and I’ve been trying to get your attention for ten of those minutes.”
The man, two tables down, was shouting at the top of his lungs as he tapped rudely on his watch. With her face an even deeper shade of red than Seth’s, Chloe scurried to his table to make amends. Hell-bent on making others as miserable as himself; the man bellowed insults and screamed at her until tears of humiliation streamed down her cheeks. Outraged, both Seth and Detective Crash rushed to her aid.
“Hey, Buddy! Take it easy. There’s no reason to talk to her like that.”
“Who the hell asked you two? What…are you her boyfriends or something?”
“No, we’re just concerned patrons who understand how little waitresses make in spite of having to put up with a never-ending parade of stupid coming through the doors.”
By the time the manager reached the belligerent man’s table, Seth and Bill were ready to take the jerk outside and teach him some manners. Meanwhile, Kim and Angela tried to soothe Chloe’s hurt feelings.
“This is why I work with the dead…they can’t backtalk.” Kim whispered, bringing a wan smile to the young waitress’ face.
In the end, the jerk walked away with a free meal and Chloe was reprimanded for making customers wait during the lunch rush. It was the adamant appeal on Chloe’s behalf by Kim, Angela, Seth and Detective Crash that saved her from being docked pay. Even though the food was every bit as scrumptious as Bill had promised, the rude behavior by the other patron had somewhat soured their meal. Seth resented the arrogance. He had always despised people who looked down their noses at the working class. I’d hate to be in his shoes when Karma catches up with him and takes a huge chunk out of his ass for treating others like dirt.