Chapter 1* *
Georgia moved from table to table taking orders and refilling coffee cups. She talked and joked with the customers, most of whom she knew by first name.
“ Hi Georgia.” Fred responded putting his menu back between the wall and the napkin holder.
How’s Anthony? He must be getting big.”
“He’s fine. Pretty soon he’ll be riding on your school bus. What’ll it be today Fred?” she asked pouring his coffee and placing his usual small tomato juice next to his silverware. Georgia knew that she’d never let her son near Fred’s school bus. Along with his usual morning tomato juice, Fred had a couple of other habits. He’d have a couple of swigs of Jack Daniels before he came in for breakfast and a joint after he left the restaurant on his way to pick up his school bus. At forty-five years old, and about fifty pounds over weight, he had a beard, but his face was so bloated that it looked more like sparse stubble than something he actually trimmed every morning. Fred was what every parent never wants his or her child to become. Excitement for Fred was on Saturday afternoon from one in the afternoon until five when The Brothers Pub on Harvard Ave in Alston served nickel drafts and free steamed hotdogs. Fred arrived every Saturday at noon and waited at the bar until one.
“I’ll have a number two, scrambled with sausage. Can I have a side order of home fries with that?”
“No problem Fred”
“Can you do me a favor and ask Greg to put them in the broiler? I want them extra crispy.”
“You got it Fred.”
Georgia came to America from the Greek Island of Kos. She had a natural beauty that she never attempted to hide or help with make up. Her eyes were light crystal blue and her smile was contagious. It also did not hurt that she made her waitress’ uniform look better than any model in a catalog could.
The Greek house painters in the front corner of the restaurant by the large plate glass windows, ten of them today, continued their laughing and smoking. As Georgia passed by them they would nudge each other, look her over and make some rude comment in Greek loud enough for her to hear them.
She walked up to Harry one of the painters. She bent over and held the coffeepot as if she was going to give him a refill. Keeping her voice at a level so that all the painters could hear her, she said in Greek.
“Harry I’m glad you like my breasts so much. When I see your wife Eleni today at the market I’ll have to tell her. I’ll also tell my husband Manoli and maybe you two can discuss them when you play cards with him Friday night. ”
She stood and walked away without refilling any cups.
Harry with his white painters hat pulled low on his head making his ears stick out looked down as he picked up his coffee cup with both hands and quietly sipped. He hoped his companion’s eyes were not on him as his neck reddened.
“Georgia sweetheart my cup is empty.” Another painter called as soon as she left them so that she would have to come back.
“Georgia I want more coffee.” Still another called after she ignored the first painter’s request for a refill.
“How does it feel to want Dimitri?”
The breakfast regulars laughed at Georgia’s quick retort as she did a quick hustle to the coffee maker put a fresh filter in the holder grabbed the corner of a pouch of coffee in her right hand and pulled it open. As she poured the fresh ground coffee into the filter Georgia picked her order pad from her apron with her left hand and started to call out some orders.
“Two number threes, one over easy, one scrambled, both with bacon and a number two scrambled, sausage and a side of home fries. Make sure the home fries are crispy.”
She shoved the basket holding the filter and coffee into the machine clicked the toggle switch starting a new pot and blew the wisp of auburn hair that was hanging over her right eye away through the corner of her mouth.
Along with our regular customers who came for breakfast the painters came in everyday to meet and discuss their plans for the day.
Peter was the boss as well as being the loudest and most demanding of the group. This morning he sat with his back against a window. As I looked out at Peter a trolley passed behind him on Washington Street. Its next stop was St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. It’s metal wheels riding on the track with the sound of a bowling ball traveling down the alley drowned out most of the conversations for the moment. Peter was also the only one of the painters who ever ordered anything other than coffee, and that was toast and that was only when he was feeling like a big spender. Today Peter was a spender.
“Georgia where’s my toast? I ordered it ten minutes ago. What the hell are you doing?
She ignored him.
Today it was just Georgia and I. I was in the kitchen and she was waiting the tables. The dishes clattered as I pushed another full rack of china into the dishwasher. I pulled the stainless-steel door shut and pushed the rubber coated green button on the wall to start the wash cycle. As the washer started, the spinning arm inside with all of its nozzles spraying out water sounded like rain on a metal roof. The exhaust fan with it’s constant whoooooooosh sound filled the background. The grill was filled with bacon and sausages sizzling next to a foot high pile of homefries.
Georgia liked working the floor alone for the extra tips. I had bought the restaurant from Georgia and her husband two years earlier. I made monthly payments as best I could. Business had slowed in the pass six months due to the recession.
We were a neighborhood restaurant. Customers that used to come five times a week were down to three. In addition to breakfast we specialized in seafood. We were locally famous for our fried clams, fish chowder, our jumbo seafood platter and most notably our cole slaw. Fish and shrimp prices were going through the roof but we couldn’t raise our prices because the clientele couldn’t afford it. Georgia’s husband Manoli had purchased another restaurant 45 miles north of us. With her husband’s permission Georgia worked mornings for me so she could spend the rest of the day with their young son Anthony.
Peter got up from his table and came up to the service window separating the dining area from the kitchen. He’d show his crew who was boss. Besides being angry about his toast he had to squeeze by three of his workers to get out from the table and that added to his mood.
“I ordered toast 15 minutes ago. Where is it?”
“I’m, too, busy go sit down, and leave Georgia alone.”
“I’m a customer. I...