Friday, July 1, 2011

A Twist Of Noir 673 - 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.


Anonymous said...

Some of us writers joke about the various jobs we've had, but I did work as dish washer during my misspent youth, where I graduated to line cook. Neither job was fun, but I got to work with a funny Old Mexican cook, so it was worth it if only to be bi-lingual in my profanity.

Enjoyed the story Cindy. Thanks for the memories and the extra order of Shemp.

David Harry Moss said...

From David Harry Moss:
Reading Cindy is like being in a fight - the hits keep coming from the opening bell until the knockout
punch - you know what to expect you just don't know where it might come from - great story as usual

David Cranmer said...

Very nice, Cindy.

Mark Boss said...

This story felt true. True the way only a real crime can feel when you read about it in the newspaper. You don't know the people involved, but you know people just like them. You grew up with them. Worked with them. And you knew that one night, while drunk, one of them would snap and stab somebody.

Nice work, Cindy. Think I'll stay home and cook tonight.

Anonymous-9 said...

She is also an amazing editor who has given a hand-up and a shot to many first-time writers. Applause, applause, Cindy.

Dana C. Kabel said...

Now I know why I have an aversion to eating out.

AJ Hayes said...

Old photos getting doughier faced by the year. A second rate, second hand mother lover with arachnid legs. Blonde mummies slingin' hash and blood with a side of screaming. All because shithead left and went away. Just when you think up, you're down and out, except you're just out the door. And that's the easiest way Mz. Rosmus ever let a reader out of one of her stories. She must'a been feeling generous. As usual Cindy, you're sub-zero frosty. Cool.

Cindy Rosmus said...

Thanks, guys!

What's funny is, "Shithead" hated washing dishes even more than I did. He turned down a dishwashing job for $228 a week.

This story is dedicated to him.

Michael Solender said...

Tasty! Love the grit of this one!

Jersey Jack said...

What a great read. Felt like I was in that kitchen, watching the whole thing. Thank you Cindy.

Chris Rhatigan said...

This story just oozes with personality. Another very fine story, Cindy.

Naomi Johnson said...

See, there are worse things than washing dishes. Good one, Cindy!

chad rohrbacher said...

Poor dishwashers; always on the outside looking into the drama of the restaurant without actually becoming a player.

Jane Hammons said...

Wonderful voice here.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Having worked in many a restaurant in my youth, wow! I saw a cook accidently dump his ashtray into the chicken salad and stir it around. And yet I still eat out. Lazy. My son washed dishes all through college. It warped him to the extent he is a prosecutor today.

Madam Z said...

I worked in that place! The kitchen was so filthy, I was afraid I'd get sick just from breathing the air. And Shemp DESERVED to die! Cindy, you are awesome.