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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year:

Amy and the Waitress
Chris Castle

"Whoo-hoo!" The truck roared past Amy as she stood by the shop window. The guy stuck his head out of the window and called something else out as they turned the corner but she didn’t catch it. Thankfully. She looked at her watch. Seven am. A little early for the ‘whoo-hoo’ boys. A couple of the shop owners pulling up their sheet metal looked over, almost recognising her. She smiled and looked back to the flowers.

The phone in her pocket went off again. It rattled against her leg until she reached in and turned it to silent. Three missed calls already. Bill ‘Supa Bad’ McKenzie, agent to the stars, calling her for her next role. ‘The’ role.
He’d explained it thus; Amy survives to the final reel and there was a possibility she would be unmasked as the killer; a twist on the slasher theme. It was actually the girl in peril who was the one in power. Except, of course, unless you’d seen any decent horror movie ion the last ten years, and not just the marquee junk. And also ignoring she wasn’t the innocent in peril, as Bill was trying to spin it, but the ‘hooters’ girl. The best friend. The one who gets mashed for having a sex drive.
‘Only’ one shower scene. A monologue about her divorced parents, who later died in a car crash-to be edited and put in extras so they’re could be 30 seconds extra of the above ‘hygiene-scene’, as SupaBad put it so hilariously.
A fight sequence showing her judo skills.
In a tight white vest.
Always in a tight white vest.
Working in an abattoir in Kill-Slash3: Thrice the dice. Wearing a vest top.
May Day Massacre: A vet. In a vest top. In Alaska.
Cupboard Killer2: What’s In the Box? A vest top. In 1876.

Amy looked at the pretty flowers in the window. Lilies. Her ma had always liked lilies even though her sister objected, because they were used in funerals. Amy was in between. She thought they looked beautiful and sad, too. Maybe that’s why they reminded her of her ma. She looked at her watch. She looked around and saw the woman in the café flip the closed sign over and began to cross the road. Hmm. Thinking about lilies and funeral at seven am. Not a good sign. But then she’d been whoo-hooed already so maybe it was the day for it. She wondered if her tombstone would read, Amy Archer. Actress. Loving Daughter. Voted no.63 in X Magazines most sexy, 2009. She walked inside the café and ordered coffee, taking a booth.

She took a seat looking out to the street. She liked early mornings, watching all the shops waking up. She remembered how she used to follow all the taggers through the night back home, watching them spray down all the metal shutters to the shops by her home. She wondered if the shopkeepers were 100% pissed, or if some part of them, was secretly pleased to have a living breathing work of art to walk up to each morning when they started work. And they were works of art, no doubt about it. Dragons, skylines, really good stuff. She looked over to the nearest shutter being hauled up, a grocers shop. A five foot cock. Hmmm. Vandalism ain’t what it used to be, she figured as her coffee arrived.
"You’re from the movies, yes?" The waitress said as Amy was about to say thank you.
"I am yes. And thank you. For the coffee." The waitress smiled. She had a thick accent.
"Uzbekistan. I can see you wondering. You actresses have expressive faces, yes?" The lady smiled. She wore those fifties style glasses Amy had always wanted to buy and red lipstick. She looked like a lady who worked in a diner in the movies.
"A long way from home, I guess?" Amy took her cup, sipped her drink.
"Sure. I’ve come here to study, same as the rest of the people here. I like it here. Rains a little too much though." She flipped her pad over and took a pencil from her shirt pocket.
"Over qualified, huh?" Amy said. She saw a cook over the skillet, another man cleaning the work tops. All of them about her age, mid to late twenties.
"A scientist and an architect. I am studying English, Shakespeare. We are the smartest café in town. How about you?" She said, looking over to the book sticking out of Amy’s bag.
"I studied English too. Not sure I needed it to scream and run around in a tight t-shirt, getting pecked by crows but there you go." She smiled back.
"Was that the film when you were chopped off in the head by a hedge trimmer? What’s the word. Dilapidated?" She raised an eyebrow.
"Decapitated. That’s the one." There was a second. "I’ll have the eggs."
"Oh well. Being chopped off at the movies probably better paid than this, right?" She scribbled down the order and flipped the book over.
"You’re right." Amy said, feeling ungrateful and blushing. But then the girl smiled at her and she couldn’t help but smile back. "I’m Amy, by the way."
"I’m Svetlana. But everyone here calls me Lana." She said, smiling and walking away, waving the notepad.

Amy checked her phone. Three more messages. He’d want an answer soon. She stuffed the phone into her bag and put the book onto the table, not sure if she would be able to concentrate or not. She looked back over to the florist. She remembered the little flower pot on the window sill her and her ma used to treat each day. So careful with it, sprinkling the seeds and drizzling the water in a salt shaker into the dirt and the roots.

Once they had taken a day out and visited a garden centre. Amy, her ma and her brother Pete. They walked for hours through the aisles of plants and trees, stopped for an ice cream and walked from one glass wall to the next in the aquarium. Amy was pretty sure it was the happiest day of her life. Uncle Pete scaring her by leaving his in the jaws of the Venus flytrap as the teeth gently drew together. Finally reaching the car with their small paper bag, with seeds, a potted plant. Then Pete shaking the stolen seed packets from his sleeve. Amy, mouth open, looking over to her ma, her face red with anger before dissolving in a fit of giggles. The three of them sitting in the broken up car laughing until they couldn’t breathe. The most she had ever seen her ma laugh. Their perfect day.

"Your eggs." Lana gently pushed the plate over to her, nodding. Amy looked up and smiled. "Thinking about your lines? Far away."
"Just thinking. These look great." She took the fork up, reached for the salt. More shutters were coming up around the street, the day starting in full.
"I suppose you have to watch your figure, with the movies?"
"I guess. You must burn everything off working here, huh?" The eggs smelled great.
She worked the salt and then the pepper. The corner of her phone lit up from where it was peeking out of her bag.
"My father, he once met Marlon Brando, you know?" Lana nodded. "You know Marlon Brando?"
"Yes." Amy managed to say, between spluttering on her eggs. "I Know Marlon Brando."
"My father, he was a delivery man. One day he was moving in a sofa, to a place in the middle of nowhere. He knew they must be rich, because only rich people buy white sofas because they don’t worry about dirt. And Marlon Brando is standing at the top of the stairs where they were putting down the sofa. Dressing gown, cigarette. Asked them for coffee, if they needed any help." She smiled to Lana; put her arm against the top of the booth.
"My father said the ash hung on the end of the cigarette like it was waiting for his every word and did not want to miss a thing. Such a simple story, but it made my father smile so brightly telling it. Strange."
"I guess he was a big star." Amy said. Her ma’s favourite movie was ‘Guys and Dolls’. She loved ‘The Godfather.’ "Maybe. I think he was happy while he was working, same as my father. I don’t know. I’d best get back or my boss will tell me off. Enjoy." She walked away, half waving.

Amy sat eating her eggs. She closed the book, not even pretending she was reading it. She looked at her watch; saw the phone light in and out of life from minute to minute.

Finally it stopped ringing. No more lights, no more calls. The owner of the florist walked up to the glass door and flipped the sign to open, then disappeared. Amy looked round, caught Lana’s eye for the cheque. The sun was beginning to pour through the street, like someone had knocked over a bucket full of the sun.
"You enjoyed?" Lana said, handing her the bill. "You look happier." Before they had a chance to say anything else, a voice called out Lana’s name. She rolled her eyes and smiled, walking away.

Amy put the money down on the table, turned the bill over as she reached into her bag. She pressed the phone down. She read her own number and wrote it down on the back of her bill. Why not? She pressed the bill and the money under the plate and stood up, hooking the bag over her shoulder. As she made it to the door Lana looked up and began to wave, just as a customer stepped up to the till. Amy smiled and walked out the door, hearing the bell ring as she stepped outside.

She walked up to the florist; saw the lilies hanging against the glass. She looked at herself in the reflection, the flowers cutting against her. Happy and sad. She stepped inside the shop, taking in the smell of all the flowers around her. She turned and pulled the card from the corner of the window and held it up. The florist looked up and smiled, her glasses half way down her nose.
"I’ve come about the job?" Amy said, holding up the card and smiling to the florist as the door drifted shut, the bell ringing gently and trapping her inside with all the flowers. Each one a little beautiful and each one a little sad.

© Chris Castle August 2009

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