BF-26: Kayleigh (Chapter 02)

It had already been a long night and the bars had been closed for only an hour. Kayleigh wiped her hand across her brow, stretched her back, and let loose a long sigh.

“Order up,” Mike called out.

“I’m on it,” said Kayleigh with resignation.

She had hoped now that the baby had been born, her boyfriend would finally get a real job. But nothing had changed with the arrival of their perfect little boy. She had assumed the mantle of motherhood on top of an already full plate. There was her job as a waitress at the local Denny’s. Then her bartending gig at the Silver Dollar. Looking in on her aging parents also took up a great deal of her time and mental space. Now with a newborn and all the responsibilities that come with a bundle of joy, she felt she was nearing her breaking point.

Grabbing the hot plate with bare hands, she sauntered out to the counter.

“Anything else I can get you right away,” she said.

“Nope. This looks great.”

“Enjoy,” she said with a smile.

She looked up just in time to see a new set of customers come through the door. The man had a head full of red hair and a thick beard to match. He was obviously drunk and was practically being carried by a petite young woman who looked to be barely twenty-one years. The girl had dark hair and dark eyes. There were tattoos up and down her arms, but they were too far away for her to make them out clearly. Kayleigh approached them with a set of menus in hand.

“Booth or table?” she asked cheerfully.

“A booth please,” replied the girl.

“Follow me.”

Kayleigh sat them in her section. It seemed to her the girl might be a fellow server. And with her experience in the restaurant industry, Kayleigh knew that fellow servers make the best tippers.

“Can I get you anything to drink?”

“Water please,” said the girl. “And I’ll have a cup of hot tea with a slice of lemon.”

“I’ll get those for you right away,” answered Kayleigh. “If you have any questions on the menu, please let me know.”

With a smile and a nod, she was off to the kitchen.

“Another set of drunks,” asked Mike who could see the corner of their booth from his view in the kitchen.

“Just one,” replied Kayleigh. “A drunk with a sweet young thing to look after him.”

She shook her head to herself as she steeped the tea. She had been a sweet young thing once. But then she fell in love. And she got pregnant. And her body went through all the things a pregnant body does – stretchmarks, swollen feet, hormonal mood swings. The hormones made her not-so-sweet all the time. The swollen feet and aching back made it difficult for her at work being on her feet all day.

It had been her hope that the symptoms would subside after delivery. But now with a newborn to look after, she had a baby to pick up, and put down, and bend over, and dote upon. Her back pain was as relentless as ever.

Taking the tea and water glass in-hand, she returned to the dining room where she encountered an awkward looking situation. The girl was looking straight at Kayleigh with a plea for help in her eyes. The drunk had taken the girl’s hand and was holding it tenderly in his. What alarmed her was not the touch, but the way he was staring at her – first her hand, then up to her eyes, and back to her hand.

“I have your drinks,” Kayleigh announced, breaking the silence.

“Thank you,” said the girl with gratitude.

Reaching for the teacup gave her an acceptable excuse to break physical contact with the drunk, but his eyes stayed glued to the girl.

“And here’s your water,” Kayleigh added.

Without looking aside, he merely said “Thank you.”

“So what can I get you two,” Kayleigh said, not wanting to allow silence overtake them again.

“I would like an extreme omelet with extra mushrooms,” said the girl.

“Toast and hashbrowns alright,” asked Kayleigh.

The girl nodded.

“And for you,” asked Kayleigh without writing down a thing.

“I’ll have the unlimited stack of pancakes,” said the man – still not breaking his gaze.

“Alright – that’s one omelet with extra mushrooms, hashbrowns and toast for the lady. And one order of unlimited pancakes,” Kayleigh said.

The girl nodded again and with that Kayleigh turned back towards the kitchen, leaving the two alone once more.

 

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