Business stays pretty steady, but I keep on top of things. Bill calms down, then sits with Russell and his girlfriend, sipping coffee and smoking. Christine and I sneak looks at each other, pretending we aren’t. Marcie comes in at nine and that helps, but by 11, I’m bored. I tell Bill to keep an eye on things and head for the Men’s room to get high.
After locking the door, I sit on the toilet and open the baggie. The pot is dark green, almost brownish and it smells resinous. I get out my pipe, crumble a little into the bowl and start one-toking.
We perfected the One-Toke Method our first year in the dorms. You put enough in the pipe for one hit, inhale until it’s gone and hold your breath for a full minute. Almost nothing comes out. The room doesn’t smell from pot, an ounce lasts longer and you get higher probably from the lack of oxygen.
I start coming up after my fourth hit, so I do ten, just to be sure. I replay the parking lot in my head. What does a cheerleader want with me anyway? Her smile twists into something cunning as I think about the scene.
I flush the matches and wash my face, staring at myself in the mirror. Beard gone, hair cut short, I look like a different person. I dry my hands and walk outside.
The dining room seems brighter. I am aware of every presence in the room. Christine is taking orders, pencil held upright in three fingers as she writes. When she leans over, her skirt rides up her thighs. Matisse’s thighs were heavier, and it bothered me. Christine notices me and walks over.
“What’s up?” I ask.
She taps her teeth with her pencil and smiles. She does look like someone with a secret, even if it’s just a secret laugh. “Danny, you look weird,” she says, mock parental. “Are you on drugs?”
“Come on. It’ll be an adventure.”
Marcie walks over.
“What’s the convention all about?” she asks.
“Danny’s trying to get me to take drugs with him.”
Marcie looks disapprovingly at me, then her frown softens. “What the hell. It’s Thursday. Let’s get high.”
I hand her the pipe and pot, and explain the patented One-Toke Method. She pockets the pipe and starts to walk away. “One thing, Marcie. It’s good pot. Be careful.” She nods.
Christine and I walk back to the grill, my discomfort growing every second. It’s powerful dope. My heart is beating wildly, and I’m high enough for surfaces to start shifting on me.
Christine looks uncomfortable with this new turn of events. I try to think of something to say that will reassure her. I’m not having any luck.
Marcie walks up to me and stops. Christine and I both look at her.
“I think I smoked too much,” she says, and starts to giggle. She gives Christine the pipe and pot.
Christine looks at me nervously. “It’s OK,” I tell her. She flashes a brief smile and goes.
When she comes back, I can see that she’s nervous, too. My own rush has diminished and as long as I have nothing to do but cook, I’m fine. “Ride it out,” I tell her. “I’ll be fine.” She looks into the dining room, then at the door. Outside, the movie has let out and couples begin dribbling in.
“Oh no,” wails Marcie. “It’s not fair.”
Marcie, ever the professional, splits the dining room with Christine, taking the extra tables along the wall. In action, Marcie is a thing of beauty. She gives out menus, silverware and water, cheerfully fending off desperate cries for coffee and beer. Christine fumbles the first few, but she catches on and gets herself in gear. There’s no time to be worried now, except about getting the food out. The dance begins and the night breaks down into a series of scenes…
…Christine comes up and slides by, pressing into me, thigh, mound, thigh. I look up and she’s spooning out sour cream into a monkey dish. She’s walked by me a dozen time tonight without touching. Is she smiling? I can’t tell. She looks up. “What?” “I can do that for you.” “No, it’s fine.” She picks up a couple of plates and walks off. I am sure she is smiling…
…I look up and see Christine filling ketchup bottles from a giant can. As she finishes each bottle, she takes a rag in one hand, grabs the neck of the bottle and wipes upward. On the third one, she notices me, smiles wickedly, and runs both hands up the bottle…
…I look up from the cutting board and see Russell talking to Christine. She’s nodding wildly at everything he says, but it looks like nothing is making any sense to her. Finally, she gets away and brings his order up.
“Russell wants two eggs dropped.”
“How’s the galloping gourmet tonight?” I turn up the light under the pot of water.
“I think he was telling me dirty jokes. At least I hope that’s what he said.”
“He’s trying to impress you. Not to worry. “ I grab a plate, hold two eggs about a foot up and drop them onto the plate. “Two eggs, dropped. Voila.” I present the plate to her.
Chris’s eyes get wide. “Danny!”
“Tell him he finally stumped me. Tell him I didn’t know what he meant.”
“I can’t,” she says. But she’s laughing again and I smile at her and wink. She winks back.
People start leaving and suddenly it’s a question of tidying up loose ends. The place stays relatively calm for the last half hour, and we get a chance to clean up. By two thirty, I’m sitting over my second beer. Marcie and Christine are counting their tips so I pour them each one.
“Well, we made it.” I set their beers on the table.
Marcie grabs hers gratefully. “Boy, for a moment there…”
We finish our beers and walk into the back for our bikes.
I wheel mine out of the way, and we both punch out.
“Uh,” I say, holding my breath, “Do you want to come over tonight?”
“OK,” she says, and my heart really starts to pound.