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Three chicken

by Christine Stark

santa fe fake charcoal grill lines up salsa on the side homestyle fries sourdough one with a side of avocado slide them on the counter ring the bell sweating over the grill itís one thirty another hour I can go home sleep sweet sweet sleep the foodís cooling down I get in trouble if itís cold ring the bell again then again then again my head floats around the kitchen ring again ring ring ring like that song sing sung sang on double nickels on the dime what is the name of the group why can I remember the name of the album see it in my head light green with a man sitting in a car his arm hanging out the window I remember that but not the name of the band I ring the bell again Darren grabs my arm Sheís coming he says dumps frozen fries into the deep fryer sizzles the sizzles are bees cicadas knives in my ears I get like this when I donít sleep one burger rare horse on the side Tara picks up the santa fes Sorry she says I nod donít care Darren jiggles the fry basket wipes his forehead with the back of his arm his pants sag off his ass like the rest of us at the restaurant we are all freaks fags dykes except Darren technically he is bisexual his brown hair hangs in his face he pulls up his jeans I throw a burger on the grill it sizzles my ears! my head floats around the room I am off balance not in my body I watch it move without me my body makes a side salad for the burger I watch it move without me line the pickle chips up in a straight line on the wooden cutting board that juts out in front of the grill I watch my body move without me my body spreads a piece of lettuce bright organic green on the roll three slices of purple onion over the top Tara is at the window Butter she says looks afraid she isnít good at waitressing theyíre threatening to fire her I donít know how weíll make the rent next month if they do I slap some butter in a side cup Thanks she says I flip the burger sizzles canít wait to get home sleep Watch out Darren says swings the fry basket across the kitchen dumps the fries into a pan the grease drips across the floor makes me sick this food makes me sick the smells make me sick the sounds make me sick my head floating around my body off balance like itís not mine my therapist says I have to take better care of myself get another job one that wonít disgust me food makes me sick in general I never cook at home I donít know how I landed this job oh yes I do Two up Jodie yells taps the bell slips two order sheets on the line I look up to read the orders but she catches my eye winks I look away donít like her sheís the one who hired me without any cooking experience sheís got a thing for me she creeps me out Let me help Darren says finishes the burger for me I read the orders scrambled eggs homestyle wheat toast no butter and potato leek soup with sourdough extra butter I reach around Darren grab a bowl he makes room for me which isnít hard to do since heís the size of a pencil line he is such a nice person compared to Jodie I almost wish I was bisexual but I made the decision to only date women awhile ago Darren puts the burger on the bun lettuce onion makes a nice picture he watches what he does intently he is depressed like me except he is differently depressed everything he does is methodical perfect he cares about cooking at the diner I donít his pain is on his face gaunt cheekbones deep black smudges under his eyes like a charcoal drawing Another butter Tara yells desperate I dump the soup in the bowl splash it on my apron chunks of potato with the skin on greenish liquid from the pureed leeks Shit I say Darren laughs he likes me Hurry up Tara says she is hard to work with sheís so anxious I slide her a butter she grabs it runs Darren sets the burger and salad on the counter Tara Darren me our dads fucked us into oblivion we do our best to get through each day on four fifty an hour heads floating sweating immense concentration to do every little thing it is a numb life a life on the margins of the margins we are the dykes fags freaks throwaways fucked out of our bodies stumbling around Willy street home of the hippie freaks and then us the queerest of the queer.

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