DISHES, DISHES, DISHES - CINDY ROSMUS
All your life, you hated washing dishes. Your mom’s fancy china, pots and pans caked with grease. Broke as you were, you’d toss your own, vs. scrubbing them. Buy new ones in the dollar store.
Now here you are, so hard up since Shithead left, you’d do the thing you hate most.
“Sorry!” the cook says, breathing booze in your face. “We don’t need no waitresses.” Like waitressing is every girl’s dream. You see two: a graying redhead and a mummified blonde.
“I’m here to wash dishes.”
It sounds fake. Like you’re a hired killer, and this is a front. Like some scorned chick hired you to take out this cook. Shemp’s his name, like in The Three Stooges.
Nah, you think. Not him.
Shemp’s like fifty, with this shock of white hair that’s got to be real. A Hawaiian shirt and shorts that reveal too-hairy legs.
He looks familiar: like that “hunk” from your mom’s day who drove the navy Lincoln all over town. Each time, with a different blonde. As he got older, the blondes got plumper, with doughy, made-up faces.
Was that Shemp?
“Ever wash dishes before?”
“No.” It’s true. You’d die first.
He snorts. “Good luck.” And leads you to the kitchen.
Where his girl waits. A chunky blonde in tube top and shorts.
That’s him, you realize. Mom’s first love. Now the cook at Casa Vitale. Little does the clientele know this tarantula-legged fuck is sautéing their shrimp.
Between shots of ’Buca.
Greasy pots piled to the sky. Dishes stacked at a crazy angle, in a sink from like 1910. And at Casa Vitale, you think. Fat roaches scoot up the wall.
“Hah!” Shemp says, when you cringe. “Even the best restaurants got ’em.”
You’ll never eat here again.
Only one automatic dishwasher. For all those dishes.
“Hand me that apron,” he tells Fatty Pants.
“Do it, yourself!”
“Fuck you, bitch.”
You walked into that. On your first night. But they were battling, before. You can tell. The blonde was too quiet, like she was waiting, maybe hoping, to be fucked with. She’s got the craziest eyes going.
The grimy apron is for you. Shemp throws it at you. When it lands in your face, he snickers.
“Ha! Ha!” Fatty Pants says sarcastically. Like he thinks he’s funny, but he’s so not.
For some reason, you start with the pots. Puttanesca sauce caked so thick, it’ll never come off. Never. Back home, this fucker would be in the trash by now. On the garbage truck, already.
Like an asshole, you try scrubbing it. With a sponge.
“Good luck,” Shemp says again.
You need it. Those pots are hopeless. The matronly waitresses dump dish after dish on the belt. And the dishwasher’s fucked up. Shit, you think.
A half hour later, it’s almost closing time. Your elbows are killing you. You start stacking silverware.
“Hurry up, will’ya?” Shemp says drunkenly, from behind you.
“Ya like that, don’t’cha?” Fatty Pants means you. She’s as drunk as him, now.
“Nah.” You hear bottles clink. “No meat on ’er.” Like you’re not even here.
“’Sides,” he says, snickering. “I like blondes.”
You know what’s coming.
“Blondes?” she says. “Like, how many?”
“How many?” Shemp says, getting pissed “Like, too many.”
“So I’m not blonde enough for you?”
“Forget it,” Shemp says wearily.
A wave of booze hits you, as Fatty Pants reaches past you, grabs something off the tray.
Scrunch! you hear, next.
“Ahhh!” Shemp says, sounding choked.
Then...scrunch again. “You fuck!” she says.
You turn around, nearly keel over.
The biggest knife, she took, and is hacking away. Shemp gags, as blood shoots out of his neck. He grabs it, tries to stop bleeding.
In minutes he’ll be dead. But she keeps chopping: chest, shoulders. Now she’s sobbing.
Blood is everywhere: even on you, way over there. On dishes you washed. Like the world is splashed with Puttanesca sauce.
“Help!” you scream, finally.
Till then, Fatty Pants forgot about you.
Luckily, a waitress runs in and screams...
The old blonde.
BIO: Cindy is a New York textbook editor by day, a hardboiled Jersey female by night. Her fiction has appeared in Black Petals, The Beat, The Cynic, Red Fez, Zygote in My Coffee, Hardboiled, NVF, MediaVirus, The Monsters Next Door, Out of the Gutter, Devil Blossoms, 13th Warrior Review, Mysterical-E, and Beat to a Pulp. She has four collections of stories out: Angel of Manslaughter, Gutter Balls, Calpurnia’s Window, and No Place Like Home. She is the editor of the e-zine, Yellow Mama. She is also a thrill seeker, a Gemini, and a Christian.