Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Free Pie Day, Part 1

FREE PIE DAY

"Hey, lady, I want another piece of pie!"

I glared at the smurf-lipped kid seated in booth 17 and said, in my meanest voice, "No."

The kid's face scrunched up like a shar pei. He opened his pie-hole, literally, and let out a wail that would have put James Brown to shame.

"Junior, honey, don't cry." The mother, a pointy, thin woman wearing an expensive twin-set and pearls, shoved her piece of free pie to the screaming child. "You can have mine. It's not on my diet."

The kid dove in, bits of fruit and crust exploding to either side of him and littering the already disgusting table. Behind me, Brenda, our bus person, muttered imprecations under her breath about "pigs in pokes" and "no home training".

Ah. Free Pie Day at the Otherworld Diner. Normally we balanced our staff across several shifts, but on this particular Saturday night every one of us bustled around the restaurant, doing whatever job needed doing even if it wasn't ours. We had to. On FPD, the customers lined up on the sidewalk like we were an exclusive New York nightclub from the moment we opened until the moment we closed, at which point we shooed the unfortunate souls who hadn't made it inside by our cut-off time.

I was usually happy to be the person who did the shooing, anxious for FPD to come to an end. At our owner Debralee's insistence, we closed the day after FPD, so everyone could recover from their exhaustion and their hatred of the pie-eating portion of the human race.

When Elvis began to sing "Hound Dog" on the jukebox, I knew there was only one more hour until closing. We'd programmed the juke to spin up a tune on the half-hour if it wasn't already in use. As if summoned by the King, Jeannie burst through the front door from the sidewalk where she'd been handing out free slices in hopes of thinning down the line. She shoved several empty pie boxes that looked like wolf-dogs had torn them to shreds into the oversized recycling bin by the juke.

Okay, I could do this. We could do this. Normally the staff prefers I don't wait tables, as surly as I am, but on FPD, we needed even my help. And really, all I had to do was hand out pie. I didn't refill drinks, take orders or get people ketchup. I just handed out pie. Pie, pie and more pie. I handed out eight slices to a bunch of slavering mongrels who couldn't possibly appreciate the subtle flavors and delicate crust of Talia's peach delight at the speed they inhaled it. My tray bare, I sidestepped ChinaMeli and Cheryl, wait staff extraordinaire, and darted behind the counter, where Maggie was stuffing packets of decaf coffee into a canister with an irritated gleam in her eyes.

Aaaaaaand, speaking of pie, which pretty much everyone in our filled-to-capacity restaurant was doing, our pie case was empty.

Uh-oh.

"Maggie, are there any pies up?"

Maggie shook her head. "Just a couple hot beefs and a chef salad."

Maggie had been slicing the pies Talia and her helpers baked and then placing them in our pie case for me and the other ladies to distribute. Our cook, Francesca, also had assistants tonight, some strapping dudes who kept kissing her. I peeked through the order window and saw the typical FPD kitchen madhouse but no explanation for the lack of pie.

"I'm going in," I said to whichever staff members could hear me. Employees who braved the kitchen area on FPD were sometimes not seen for hours if Talia or Francesca roped them into service. They no longer used ropes, though, after the incident.

I pushed the swinging door cautiously and entered the back of the restaurant. Francesca and hunks were frying and chopping and stirring, and Lori was running the industrial dishwasher, her hair frazzled.

"How's it going out there?" Lori asked.

So that's where Lori had gotten off to. I checked her ankle to make sure there was no rope and gestured rudely towards the front. "Full of pie cretins. Hey, we're out of pie."

Lori's eyes widened in horror, because running out of pie on FPD was detrimental to everyone's wellbeing. "Scary. Talia's out back. Actually I haven't seen her for a while. Should we nuke the frozen pies?" We kept a pie stockpile in one of our deepfreezes -- recently sterilized of a green, glowing mold that wasn't a health hazard but did have interesting properties -- for just such emergencies.

"I'm going to check on Talia first." We probably had enough to get through the final hour of FPD, but I hated to clean out the stash. "Maybe thaw ten."

"Gotcha." Lori finished loading the dishwasher and disappeared into the deepfreeze.

The rear door led to a small patio where we kept our specialized brick oven. Beyond the patio was the gate to the back alley and dumpsters.

The scene that met my eyes on the patio was not what I expected. I don’t know why things that happen at the Diner continue to surprise me, but even so, this was a shocker.

Talia was....

8 comments:

  1. Talia was...what? Aaaargh!

    Now that was just cruel, Jody. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for part deux. :-)

    Francesca

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  2. Okay, I went back and reread the ending and just got it... LOL But I still wanna read more about free pie day!

    Francesca

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  3. Hopefully I'll have the second installment finished by tomorrow or Saturday!

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  4. Jody,
    I'm looking forward to the next installment. Part 1 was great fun... ooooo that rhymes. Okay hey, I just got off work. Cut me some slack. :-)

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  5. Wow, I can't wait to find out what happened on my day off!;)

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  6. Oh, no she didn't !!
    Yes, she did. She left us an ending hook. Cruel, just cruel. But fantastically fun post!!

    ~Maggie

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  7. Frazzled...yep, that's pretty much me in a nutshell. Remind me to call in sick next FPD. Great short, Jody. *G*

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