Lily has been doing creative writing since she started high school. She likes writing mostly short stories, but seeks to branch out.
My mud cake smells sweet and pungent, the incandescents above, uncomfortably bright and impossibly white. The cocktail glass in front of me is thoroughly unappetizing - urinary, even - and it smells like lemon and salt. The tomato soup I had a few minutes ago wasn’t poisoned, but it was cold and greasy - traits associated more with fast food than formal fare.
It was times like these that I regretted trying to skimp on costs when it came to food. Most times, I was okay - pleased even - with what I got. I might get a dish that didn’t stand out from the rest, or just something that didn’t exactly look the best. Those things were fine.
Truth be told, I should’ve known the moment I stepped foot into the restaurant. Shiny, silver bars and an interior design more fit for a prison cell than a diner. Even the name, “Darren’s Dump” sounded like a questionable place to eat. But, ever the gentleman - or perhaps, ever the cheapskate - I gave it a chance. After all, who wouldn’t pass up on a chance at a three-course meal for fifteen bucks?
All of a sudden, I hear a shrill, piercing scream from behind me. “Oh my fucking god, there’s a bug in my soup!” Whipping my head around out of morbid curiosity, I catch a glimpse of a brown-haired woman, her face frozen in horror. Almost immediately, I hear frantic but quiet footsteps.
“What’s the problem, dear?”, the waiter asks, adding a bow for good measure. It doesn’t appease the woman in the slightest. As I turn my back on the commotion behind me and back towards my mud cake, I catch a few choice words, mostly swears and curses.
The mud cake tastes about as good as it looks and smells. That is to say, it does not taste very good at all. The best way to describe it would be as mud with several heaps of sugar piled onto it with slight undertones of cocoa powder and a pinch of cream. I think it’s cream, anyways. As I finish my last bites of cake, a metallic after-taste from who knows where creeps into my mouth.
I ask for the bill. “One moment, sir,” I hear the waiter call out from behind me. This one’s voice is composed and calm, as opposed to the frantic waiter that served the lady behind me a few seconds ago, his brown hair neatly combed. With the slightest flourish, he presents the bill as though it’s one of the restaurant’s eccentric offerings.
I take a look at the receipt. Fifteen bucks, with tax and tip included. I put a ten-dollar bill and a five-dollar bill onto the scratched, weather-worn bill holder and leave Darren’s Dump as quickly as I arrived. Leaving, I catch a glimpse of the brown-haired woman from earlier, who looks like she’s on the verge of being sick. I also catch a glimpse of several metal tables sitting outside deserted, as I imagine they usually are.
As I take one last look back at a restaurant to which I’ll never return again, I spot my waiter’s hands, ink-stained and covered in a mixture of grease and chocolate sauce. At first, I feel disgust, but that gives way to admiration as I realize it’s just him and the other waiter running the entire place, making ends meet like me.
Who knows, maybe I will return again. But probably not.
© 2019 Lily Verdana