THE EARLY BIRD SPECIAL
Written by RS Janes
“Here come your girlfriends, Jerry,” the waitress said sarcastically, pushing back a bright blonde curl from her forehead.
Jerry the cook snorted a scowling laugh from behind the counter that separated the waitress from the kitchen in the little corner coffee shop, as two white-haired women, one using a cane with three prongs at the bottom, slowly opened the door and made their way into the restaurant.
“Every day at five o’ clock,” the waitress murmured mostly to herself. “You could set your watch by it.”
She filled up two glasses with water and took them to the table where the two elderly ladies were settling themselves in a red vinyl booth.
“Hello, girls,” she said lightly, “I feel psychic today: I bet you’re both having the early bird dinner special, right?”
“Ha, ha, Trudy,” said one of the pair, “You know us too well.”
Trudy scribbled something on her order pad, walked back to the counter and said loudly, “One, two, you know what to do, Jerry.”
Grim, barrel-chested Jerry snorted again from his refuge in the kitchen, laying two thin chicken breast patties to sizzle on the blackened, greasy grill. While the meat cooked, he dropped a scooped ball of mashed potatoes onto two beige ceramic plates, and ladled out a small portion of over-boiled green peas, one scoop of potatoes and one ladle of peas per plate. When the chicken was done, he’d pour three tablespoons of shiny tan gravy over the potatoes and meat.
While the meat browned, Jerry got out another smaller beige plate and placed four slices of spongy white bread on it. Out in front, Trudy poured two cups of steaming decaffeinated coffee for the two early birders — it came with the meal. As it said on the hand-lettered sign in the window:
TODAY’S EARLY BIRD SPECIAL
(5 to 6:30 p.m. Only)
Delicious Chick Breast
Bread + Butter
All for Only $1.49 + tax!
“I wondered something, Trudy,” one of the white-haired ‘girls’ said, as Trudy brought their coffee. “Why is the early bird special always chicken?”
“Because,” Trudy laughed, “That’s the early bird! Y’know, the one who got the worm. He was so smart you get to eat him.”
Thick-necked Jerry snorted again from the kitchen.
The other girl, the one with the three-pronged cane, spoke up, “Did you ever think about having some other kind of bird for the special?”
“Yeah,” Trudy beamed, performing now for Jerry’s amusement, “Next week we’re having crow. You’ll like it.”
“Crow?” the three-pronged-cane woman pondered innocently. “I’ve never had that. What’s it taste like?”
“It tastes like chicken!” Trudy said, stifling a giggle.
In the kitchen, Jerry laughed out loud as he slid the cooked chicken patties onto the beige plates. “Specials up!” he yelled, smiling broadly.
At the table, oblivious to the humor, the elderly women counted out the change for their meals, careful to leave a quarter tip, as they always did.
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