“What time do you want me to be here?” she asked, not trying to lie or sweet talk herself out of the awkward, telling conversation, but wanting to divert it nonetheless.
“Four. Dinner usually picks up shortly after that, and dies down about now. We shut the doors at one, run the dishes through, and I mop and clean up in the morning after I get some rest.”
“K. I can help with dishes tonight. I’ve done a load or two before in my day” she said with a wink. He took a long look at her manicured fingers and a small smile splayed across his old face. He had to be in his fifties, starting to bald, a little wide at the belt, but he looked strong and able to handle whatever came his way. The smile was still on his lips he motioned to the kitchen.
To her surprise it was a fairly modern kitchen. The dishwasher was incredibly easy to use, and she took care in wiping the silverware and glasses and placing them in their rightful places. Within an hour the tables had been cleared and wiped, and the dishes were dried.
As she was putting the last of the glasses on the shelf, she heard him approach on the old wooden floors. She stood up and faced him. “All done. Anything else?”
“Nope. That’ll do ‘er for the night.” He handed her the cup with the tip money she had collected that evening. “That’s yours. See you at four.”
As he handed her the jar, her stomach moaned audibly. She hoped he hadn’t heard, but the look on his face indicated otherwise. Four tonight. Yep, it was already well past one in the morning, in just over twelve hours she would have a job that could keep her identity hidden and money in her pocket. Things were turning around.
She turned and headed for the backdoor to find her car. She scanned the parking lot automatically. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, so she crossed safely towards her car. It was just an old Mercury her Dad had given her in high school, but it got the job done. She wondered where she would park for the evening, and with her limbs and eyelids heavy, she thought she might just leave it here. She was parked in the far corner of the lot and it couldn’t be seen from the roadway behind the trees.
As she was contemplating this thought, she heard a voice over her shoulder.
“Hold up, miss. I never got your name.” Oh boy. What should she say? Using her real name had not been helpful before.
“Everyone calls me Sarah” she said as she turned around. He was walking across the parking lot in her direction with a white Styrofoam box in his hands.
“Bill. My name’s Bill. Nice to meet you. Here are a few left overs, I warmed them up in case you was hungry.”
Before she could even say thanks, he had turned and headed for his pickup. “Thanks!” she hollered out, and he just put an arm up in the air in recognition, hopped in his pickup and headed out of the lot.
She crawled into her car, reminding herself it wouldn’t be long before she saved enough to rent a place. Just a few more nights she hoped, as she counted up her earnings from the night, and she would have a deposit, a few more nights after that she could pay rent. It could work out.
She ate the deliciously fried food, did the best she could with her hair, curled up in the back seat, pulled the blankets over her body and said a quick prayer of thanks that the summer heat would keep her warm yet again.