On top of the bar, a demon scarecrow battles an axe-wielding mutant toad. As this mook is giving me her order, I look over at the cook as if to say, â€œsmash them with your hand, quick, theyâ€™re making too much noise, I canâ€™t hear the customers!â€
The mook orders a Rueben with no kraut. the cook raises her eyebrow at me, then turns toward the grill.
Cripes! I hope no one sits at the bar! What if a customer gets a tiny axe in their eye? Surely, theyâ€™d sue.
Table 3, the guy looks like the man on cartoons who carries a frog around in a box; who thinks the frog is horribly talented, but as soon as he shows us the frog it just lowers its eyelids and croaks. Yeah, THAT guy.
â€œWhat can I get ya?â€ I ask.
He squints his eyes and reads from the board like a first-grader, sounding it out: â€œWhatâ€™s baked tortellini soup?â€
Without batting an eye, I answer, â€œGerman sausageâ€¦tortellini noodlesâ€¦veggiesâ€¦tomatoesâ€¦â€
He grips the menu hard, studies it. He has deep grooves in his forehead when he tightens his brow, his arms are long and skinny, he has darkness under each eye. He probably works at Social Security.
I turn my head. The scarecrow and the mutant toad are kissing each other on the cheek like Italians. There mustâ€™ve been peace talks. Is it Italians? Iâ€™m relieved we donâ€™t do that in the States. I wouldâ€™ve had to kiss this grim weirdo from Social Security.
â€œGet me the Southwest Turkey with no green chiles,â€ he folds up the menu and hands it to me, â€œand a water.â€
I donâ€™t know where these people come from. You canâ€™t get a Southwest Turkey with no chiles. Then, thereâ€™s nothing Southwest about it. And you canâ€™t have a Rueben with no kraut. This is Kansasâ€”weâ€™re all Krauts!
I took my order book behind the bar, handed it to the cook.
â€œWhat is this?!â€ she says.
â€œI know.â€ I say.
I begin scooping ice into glasses, listening for the almost silent â€œtingâ€ sound when the ice hits the bottom of the glass. I look up and the demon scarecrow and the mutant toad are at it again. I turned to the cook.
â€œLife is War.â€
â€œYouâ€™re a dork,â€ she says.