This guy’s been here almost every day this month. He always ends up sitting in the same stool, but only after sitting down at table 14, looking up and down the bar, walking back toward the door to pick up a Globe and scan the headlines. Then he pulls out the crossword and studies the clues and the grid until he’s satisfied. He’ll look up and I’m standing close with my back turned, anticipating his needs because that’s my job and before he even asks, I pull him the pen resting on top my ear and wink.
Then he fills in every damn square.
He always orders the same thing. I have to tell you, though. It’s a wonder how he gets to being settled. He’ll stare up at the specials board for a good two minutes without looking away, then he nods thoughtfully, picks up a menu, spends a few minutes with that and then he’ll put it down. This is all after he’s just skull-fucked the daily crossword in like four minutes at most. What a character, I tell the girls. It’s his meticulous routine and my schedule that makes it so I’m the only one of us who’s waited on him. Each time he finally gets seated, he looks at me like he’s making the most difficult decision he’s ever had to make. Then he tells me he’d like an omelet with American cheese, bacon, and spinach. It’s been like 20 times he’s ordered this and every time I have to ask him the kind of toast he wants and if he’s getting home fries. Every time I walk up to the counter to fill his water, I swear he jumps a little like he didn’t expect anyone to walk up. Like, you’re in a diner, guy. You forget where you are? He’s spooked half the time.
I can’t help but wonder at his story. All I’ve figured out so far is he likes eating omelets, but not cooking them. He just kind of nods whenever I smile at him. He’s never said more than six words to me at a time, but he’s got to be some kind of genius. I hate this job, but I love it when he walks in. The observation. The being a part of his day, however twisted or boring it may be. He may be the reason I don the apron each morning. God knows it’s not the $2.73 he tucks under the hand-written receipt. It’s weird to say, but he doesn’t smell bad. Not like you think he would. He kind of smells floral.
Genius. Omelet king. Smells like a garden. What a world. What a job.