1.

The man sat in a booth, rolling a peach from hand to hand. A waitress pushing a mop called to him that it was closing time. But I haven’t ordered yet, he said. The waitress, whose hair was falling out of her bun, told him he’d had three damn hours to order and he didn’t and now it was time for him to go. She leaned her mop against the wall and drew a ring of keys from her apron pocket. The cook emerged from the kitchen, running both hands through his black hair until it stuck out in all directions.

The man began eating his peach. Juice dripped from his mouth onto the table. Peach flesh stuck between his teeth.
The cook came over and grabbed the peach out of the man’s hands and threw it to the floor.

Well, shit, I just finished mopping, the waitress said. She yanked a napkin from a dispenser and picked it up. The man wiped his chin.

You wasted my peach, he said to the cook.

The cook pulled him up out of the booth and hustled him out the door. The man stumbled and fell. Stop coming here, the cook said. The man gathered himself and watched the waitress lock the door and turn out the lights. He pressed his face to the glass. The waitress and the cook enfolded each other in an embrace.

 

2.

The waitress pushed a mop back and forth across the floor. A man came in selling peaches. The waitress, who walked with a limp, said we don’t need any peaches and besides it’s closing time. The man, whose hair was slicked back, set the basket of peaches on a table and extended his hand. The waitress called over her shoulder to the cook and drew a pack of gum from the pocket of her apron. The cook emerged from the kitchen, working a towel over his hands.

These would make fine pies, said the man. He chose one from the basket and tossed it from one hand to the other.

The whole diner smelled sweet and ripe.

The cook stepped closer and caught the peach mid-air.

Cool, said the waitress. But the cook dropped the peach and it ruptured, spilling juice on the floor.

Well, shit, I just finished mopping, the waitress said. She yanked a napkin from a dispenser and picked it up. The man rubbed his chin.

You wasted my peach, he said to the cook.

The waitress paid for the basket of peaches and the cook showed the man to the door. Come back again soon, he told the man. He watched the man get into his pick-up truck. He watched him lean over and kiss the woman sitting there.

 

3.

The cook emerged from the kitchen, running both hands through his greasy hair. A waitress leaned against the counter, eating a peach. The cook, whose eyes were puffy and sore, called over to the man sitting in the booth. It’s closing time dude. But I haven’t ordered yet, the man said. The cook told him he’d had three damn hours to order and he didn’t and now it was time for him to go. The waitress dropped her peach to the floor and drew a gun from her apron pocket.

Whoa, the man said. You just wasted that peach.

He waved the menu at her. I’ve figured out what I’d like to order. May I order? The waitress pulled the trigger and blew his brains out.

Well, shit, I just finished mopping, she said. She doused the mop in the bucket, squeezed out the excess water, cleaned up the mess. The cook rubbed his chin.

He scooped the man up under his armpits and dragged him out into the alley. The waitress followed, holding her gun aloft. He looked shifty to me, Lon. Besides it’s closing time. She watched the cook take the man’s wrist between his thumb and forefinger. She watched him flick open a napkin and lay it over his face.

 

© Kathy Fish
[This piece was selected by Sara Crowley]