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Hell is Where the Heart Is

By @MundaneMonster

One

Frank’s Diner is a grimy 80’s themed restaurant sandwiched between a luxury spa place and a Whole Foods. It’s the only place in the city that hasn’t been gentrified yet and reminds the city-goers of the type of place Green Point used to be. The employees–all women except Joe the cook–trapeze across the dingy vomit pink and boring blue tiles in outdated waitress uniforms with note pads stuffed in their pockets and pencils tucked behind their ears. Each waitress has their hair pulled into a tired and messy ponytail with a few scripted, rebellious strands stuck to their sweaty foreheads. The chunky jukebox in the corner plays fuzzy static laced oldies music until the record skips and loops the same lines, and Cherry–our waitress–kicks it in just the right spot to get it working again. She does this three times on her way back to our booth, I counted. 

“Y’all okay over here? Need a refill?” Cherry sounds like she smokes at least two packs of cigarettes a day. 

I swirl my straw through the dredges of my milkshake and shake my head. Toby tears a piece off of the same grilled cheese that he’s been nibbling on for thirty minutes. Our mom says something around the mouthful of the third deluxe bacon burger she’s ordered. Cherry frowns and looks to me to translate. 

“Another burger, please,” I clarify. Mom gives me a thumbs-up as she devours the last of her burger. 

“Mmph, and more fries,” she grunts. Condiments mixed with oil drip down her fingers and spatter the grease-stained table. 

Cherry nods warily and hurries to the kitchen. Probably to gossip about the petite woman shoving burgers down her gullet, while her children stare at the table in silence. 

Other kids would be embarrassed by this display of etiquette violation. On any other day, I would slide down in my seat and cover my face. On any other day, Toby wouldn’t even be here. But today is different. Today mom gets a pass for ordering enough food for three people and eating it within seconds. 

Funerals always work up an appetite. 

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