It’s closing time. The restaurant’s almost empty. My last table’s paying the bill. The cooks are breaking down the kitchen. All the other waiters have gone home. I can’t wait to get out of here. I’m exhausted and a post shift martini’s calling my name.

The door chimes. A couple walks in. They want dinner. Fluvio seats them.

“You’re kidding me,” I groan, “We’re closed!”

Fluvio looks at the clock and shrugs. I walk into the kitchen and tell the guys they’ve got two more dinners to cook. Their reaction is unprintable.

I walk over to the table, a host of inhospitable thoughts running through my head. Who eats at this hour? Can’t these bastards see the restaurant’s empty? Don’t they have any consideration? Consideration? That’s a joke. Who am I kidding? I struggle to put on my customer friendly smile. It ain’t easy.

But my new customers are too busy French kissing to notice me. I skid to a halt, turn around, and walk way. I hate when people pull this shit. I don’t have anything against public displays of affection, but there is something called room service. I guess this couple’s never heard of it.

I let a minute pass before I come back. The man’s wearing a stupid grin on his face as the lady, a red-haired knockout, reapplies her lipstick. I can’t help but notice her date’s twenty five years older than she is. That aggravates me. I see rich old coots with hot babes everyday. There’s just something so cynical about it. Oh, I’m sure some of these couples are crazy in love, but, somehow, I think lovebirds are in the minority.

The rich are different when it comes to relationships. Money gives them too many options. Options they predictably and ruthlessly exercise. Sixty year old thrice divorced billionaires shacking up with super model eye candy? Love? Please. If these guys were broke their long legged playmates wouldn’t give them the time of day. What’s even more frightening is these randy billionaires totally accept that their wives are in it for the money. Think I’m being cynical? Guess again. New York divorce lawyers are very busy.

But don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against May-December romances. Its May-December arrangements I have a problem with. Call me when I’m fifty and a best selling author. I might be thinking differently.

“Good evening,” I greet the couple, “Can I get you something from the bar?”

The man waves me away. “We’re gonna be here a while,” he says imperiously. “We don’t want to be rushed.”

Time to put the kibosh on this guy’s unreal expectations.

“I’m sorry sir,” I say politely, “But the kitchen’s closing in five minutes. I need to get your order soon.”

The man just stares at me. I decide to press on.

“Would you like to hear the specials?”

The man nods. I rattle off the specials, leaving out anything that takes forever to cook. No risotto for you!

“Anything to drink?” I ask.

“I’d like a glass of Sharice,” the redhead says. Ah, a rocket scientist. I write “Shiraz” on my pad. No use correcting her at this hour.

“I’ll have a glass of Merlot,” the man barks.

“Very good sir.”

I go get the couple their wine. When I return, the redhead’s straddling her date, sticking her tongue down his throat. I place the wine on the table.

“You folks ready to order?” I deadpan, oblivious to their little drama.

The woman climbs off her date. The man glares at me. I can tell he doesn’t like me very much. They order two pasta dishes. I send the order to the kitchen. The food’s up in record time. The last meal of the evening always comes out the quickest.

I drop off the entrees. The couple’s kissing again. They better give the tonsil hockey a rest before the food gets cold. I grind out some pepper and cheese, wish them buon appetito, and escape.

Experience tells me I’ll be here for an hour. I grab a newspaper and sit down. The couple takes forever. After lingering over espresso, they pay the bill and leave. The tip, of course, is shit.

But that’s the way it is with late tables. Eighty percent of the time they’re cheap social misfits. A restaurant loses money letting them in the door. Why stay open late for fifty lousy bucks? Fluvio and I fight over this constantly.

I finish my paperwork and start closing up. The phone rings.

“The Bistro,” I answer, “How can I help you?”

“Are you still serving?” a cell phone garbled voice asks.

“We closed over two hours ago,” I reply.

“Is the owner there?” the guy asks.

“He went home.”

“Well, we’re good friends of his.”

“Sir,” I answer, “I’d love to accommodate you but no one’s here to cook the food.”

“Well can’t you do something?”

“Sorry sir.”

“What’s your name?” the man asks – and not because he wants to be my friend.

“Hello?” I ask, “What did you say?”

“What’s your name?”

“I’m sorry you’re breaking up,” I answer, “What did you say?”

“Can’t you hear me?” the guy asks.

I hang up. Gee. Must’ve been a dropped call. I’ve got total deniability.

I turn off the lights. The phone rings again. The caller ID says it’s that guy again. Probably still wants to know my name. I’m too tired to deal with his entitled bullshit.

The phone’s still ringing when I lock the door and go home.

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