First Page: Virgin in the Truckstop
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Staring at the bread knife she held in her hand, Angie wondered how long it would take her to die if she were to jam the pointed tip into her eye. The serrated edge ought to do maximum damage, but the very thought of touching anything to her eyeball made her shudder. Still, it was one way to end the miserable night she was having. It would be quick if she hit the brain. But with her luck, she thought with a wry twist to her pink lipsticked mouth, she would end up lobotomizing herself and drooling into a fruit cup for the rest of her shitty existence. She dropped the bread knife into a bucket of soapy water and wiped her hand on her apron. Mac, the short order cook and shift manager, looked up from the burgers flailing on the grill and gave her the stink eye before jerking his head toward the dining area.
Angie returned the cook’s glare and held up a can of lukewarm Diet Coke. "I’m on my break."
"You’re the only waitress I’ve got on shift, missy. I don’t want to hear about you taking a break. I’ve been on my feet for sixteen hours today."
"Have you ever heard of the Arizona labor laws, Mac?"
The cook shifted the baseball cap on his head and sneered. "You ever seen that unemployment line at city hall, girlie? Quit giving me lip and get back to work."
She gritted her teeth and seriously considered walking out. She had some savings which she could live on for at least four months; it was the money she had been putting away steadily, so she could buy a car and get out of this shit-hole town. Her best friend Eileen had a room waiting for her in Los Angeles. The only thing that held her back was Grandma (though Grandma was actually great-grandma). The woman had tirelessly cared for her since Angie was a baby and Suzanne, her grand-daughter, had ran away with some guy and was never heard from again. As Grandma herself had told her, she was eighty-five years old and would not be long for this world. Well, what if Grandma died tomorrow? She squelched the ugly thought and sighed. She was probably going to go to hell for thinking of ditching Grandma and running off to LA. That had to be a sin of some kind. Hopefully when the day came that her soul was dragged to the lake of burning fire by a bunch of screaming shadow creatures like in the movie Ghost, it would not be for bigger things like killing her boss, strangling a customer, or throwing herself in front of a speeding truck on the Interstate.
Cursing Colleen for the umpteenth time that evening for calling in "sick" on a Friday night, Angie pulled her hair back into a ponytail and stormed off to the counter where Mac had placed a plate of sloppy joes soggy with chili. The grease sloshed dangerously close to the edge as she picked it up, beaded droplets of the stuff skating on the surface of unnaturally orange cheese, but she managed to deliver it to Joe-Bob without incident. At least that was the name stitched on the right chest pocket of his ill-fitting short-sleeved button shirt. She didn’t think he was one of those trendy types who would go into an Abercrombie store to buy a faux-Goodwill gas station attendant uniform that costs forty-five dollars. Not with the business-up-front, party-in-the-back hairdo he was sporting. She couldn’t help but stare in awe at the ratty yellow nest, which held a particular sheen under the fluorescent lights above. It looked so dirty and oily she was half-expecting a cartoon louse to lift up a lock and say hello. He did not even glance up from the battered copy of Yuma Gazette he was reading even when she set down his plate in front of him, merely lifted his coffee mug for a refill.
Angie looked at the pot in her hand, then back at the greasy head. Tiny shards of glass had to be a bitch to dig out of someone’s skull, but she doubted they could get past the shield of the yellow mullet. The thing looked shellacked. Gritting her teeth, she filled the mug with the putrid mud Mac called coffee three-quarters to the brim and tossed a few crumpled packets of cream and sugar she had dug out of the pocket of her apron. The man brought the mug to his chapped lips, slurped a mouthful, and gargled it before swallowing it. Angie did not bother suppressing her shudder of disgust as she stomped back to the faded orange counter that she had been half-heartedly polishing before she had retreated to the kitchen for a quick sip of the Diet Coke she had been nursing for half the evening.
As she parked her butt on a hard plastic stool and resumed her futile attempts to erase the "Fuck you, Amy" that some broken-hearted young man must have scrawled on the counter with a black permanent marker, she wondered what Colleen was doing. Sick, my ass. It was a Friday night, for God’s sake. If Colleen wasn’t out partying in a hot nightclub in San Diego-‘which was almost three hours away-‘Angie would take over toilet cleaning duty for a whole week. She knew this because Colleen had pestered her in the past to go with her, provided Angie pitched in with gas money. It was why the woman’s dream to move to Vegas to become a showgirl would never happen: all the money she was supposed to be saving was wasted on gas and clubbing clothes.