4. Lunch

4. Lunch

A Chapter by Lynaelee

By the time I had regained my composure and made my way back out to the floor, Bertie had closed the bar down, and we were in full swing; every table was full - all 18 tables and 38 booths. I weaved my way through and took care of whatever need presented itself; always feeling like I was running. I thanked Bertie for her help and told her she could leave if she so desired. Josh arrived shortly after Bertie left. Pat stayed in the black shirt and bused our tables, always staying within four table lengths to me while I was on the floor. Josh seemed eager to watch me too. Anytime a table with just men came in, Josh insisted on taking that table. I didn't argue; it wasn't worth the hassle. Joe kept the extra cook busy and always looked me over whenever I approached the window. I was beginning to feel like I was a porcelain doll in a glass house. I didn't like all this attention, but I wasn't going to say anything. I worked diligently for the rest of the day. Nothing else was unusual, and my mental flags slowly went down. I remained on high alert though. One threat -that disappeared- doesn't guarantee complete safety; this was one thing I had learned for certain with my dad. Shortly after the lunch rush, Pat approached me asking if I'd leave before the shift change at three. I hesitated and replied, "there's no way Josh can keep everything stocked and take care of all the customers by himself. I'm taking tables until the next shift comes in and then I'll do my side work, but in the break room so it appears I left." 
"You're a stubborn girl. But that's fine. I'll help with what I can. Remember, Linda told you to give me your pad if you need a break. It's okay." 
"Pat, I don't need you to do my work for me. I'll be fine." 
"If you insist, doll. How do you like camping? " 
"I think it's great. Why?" 
"I don't want you to drive home tonight. I can't promise that you won't be followed. Plus, you'll have your own tent. Scouts honor." 
"You can never guarantee my safety, Pat. And I'm not asking you too. I'm not sure about camping right now. But I'll get back to you. Later. Promise," I say over my shoulder as I took food out to another table and pondered his offer; going home is definitely not safe and I love postponing going home, knowing I'll get in trouble either way. After I deliver the food and make sure they don't need anything else at the moment, I notice the corner booth is filling up with kids from my class, and that they haven't been helped yet. I make my way back to the counter and start to grab menus. Josh comes up behind me. "So corner booth is people from my class. Can I take them or do you want 'em?" 
"B22? Four guys, two girls? You sure? I'd rather you not feel cornered today or ganged up on." 
"Thanks. I doubt they'll try anything. If they do, well they like to use words. They're the cool kids. I'm just the book worm. Although in a town of 1,000 where food choices are limited, they're bound to travel for a good bite to eat. I don't mind and you seem busy. Besides, I'm currently caught up," I replied. He looked around the many tables and nodded before studying his order pad again.  
"Yeah, go ahead. I have to make some milkshakes for the six at T13. This could be a while. Then I need you to take B2, they've been here the longest and I haven't had time to get over to them; I have about four tables I haven't taken an order for yet. I'm up next too, do you mind taking the next table? I'm going to have to pass." 
"Sure. No problem, Josh. I'll be fine," I replied as I began to make my way to the table. Loud guffaws lead my way. One more school year. That's it. It'll be so much easier to pretend to like my class from a distance. They're not bad people, they just are too obnoxious for my liking and everything's always a joke. I don't let my emotions show as I approach their table. Smiling warmly, I address each one. "Hey, Lauren, Marie, Adam, Dan, Ryan, and Derek. How's it going?" 
"Annette, we're so lucky to have you wait on us," Lauren scoffed, flicking her perfectly straight brown hair over her shoulder. "Why don't you do your job and clean this table. It's disgusting." 
"Back off, Lauren," Adam scolded. 
"Ooh! Look who's found his voice. We only came here because of you," Lauren retorted as Adam turned bright red. 
"I can come back later if you guys would rather claw each other's eyes out, but if you're here to eat, would you like this menu? As for the table, I'd be happy to clean it off for you, but you chose to sit here, and I can see at least three other options that are already clean. So don't blame me for your poor judgment," I told them bitterly, but with a smile. All of us waitstaff hated when guests chose to do this; sometimes we made them sit at the dirty table for a few extra minutes because really it was rude of them to expect us to reach around and over them so we could clean a table when there was one ready nearby.
"Nah. We'll eat. Thanks, Annie," remarked Ryan -the captain of the football team and the one the whole class looks up to make their decisions- as he reached for a menu and winked at me. He was a flirtatious jerk, but his charms did nothing for me. 
"It's Annette. And you're welcome," I replied harshly as the rest of the table took a menu and began studying it. I grabbed an armload of dishes while Lauren glared at Ryan. "So much for being the most popular girl and having a say in the final decision," I thought as I retreated to the waitstaff counter to deposit my armload into the dirty dish cart. I washed my hands again and sighed. "Nine months and you can be done with them for good," I told myself silently as made my way to B2 and took their order. After I turned it in, and set up B7, I found something that needed to be done. 
"You got a few dirty looks as you came back from the corner. Jealous peeps?" Josh asked as Pat listened in on the conversation but looked back at my classmates. Josh and I were making salads for his table; I would make my rounds and check my tables after my next delivery, but for the moment, I was still caught up.
"Probably. Or I upset them by telling them off about sitting at a dirty table. I'll wipe it on my next round over there. For now, they're going to have to suffer a bit. The brunette has always seemed to feel threatened by me. The big guy on the end is quiet but a great athlete. He acted out of character and basically told her to shove it; bold move on his point. The blonde girl and thin dirty blond guy are probably the nicest people at the table, but they didn't say anything to me today. The captain is in the middle and shut them all up. Really though, it's just his size and flirtatious notions that's intimidating. He thinks he's a big shot but I don't. I think their main goal is to rattle some cages. I'm just the lucky winner today." 
"Good thing it'll take more than that to rattle you, honey! Order up!" Joe declared, sticking his head out the serving window. 
"Always sneaking up in my conversations, Joe. Tsk, tsk. One day that might be considered rude! Thank you!" I replied with a cheeky grin. I took a wet rag with me and put it over my shoulder before grabbing the food. Once delivered, I made my way back to the corner booth and began wiping the table down. "Have you decided what you want?" I asked.
"Since barf bag isn't on the menu. No, I think I'm good," Lauren remarked as she rolled her eyes. "Maybe you can send over some yummy eye candy instead," she said perking up. I followed her gaze and smirked as Pat bused the table behind me. I turned back around and noticed Adam scowling out of the corner of my eye. 
"I'm sorry. You already had me clean your table. He's just doing his job by cleaning tables that are still dirty," I retorted. I heard Pat snort softly behind me as he moved around the table he was cleaning. "Now same tickets or separate?"
"Ignore her. She thinks she's fat. Put all on one, Annette. We can figure it out later. I'd love a burger and fries. Add bacon, mushrooms, and cheese," Dan announced on my left. I turned my attention toward him. He ran his fingers through his black hair before handing me back the menu. He was sitting beside Adam. While writing Dan's order, Adam put on a flirtatious smile and winked at me multiple times. I resisted the urge to slap him. 
"I don't know why. Everyone knows she's the prettiest. Attention w***e," Marie muttered under her breath to my right. "Cobb salad. Lemon wedge, no dressing." I smiled and nodded subtly. I took the rest of the orders without a hitch. As I collected the menus, Adam brushed his fingers across my hand and grinned mischievously. 
"My bad. I'm sorry, Adam. I'll be right back with your drinks. Lauren, last chance, hun. Are you sure I can't get you anything? Soup? Salad? Milkshake? Lemon wedge? Crackers?" I tried, thinking of anything she could have. She gave me the 'are you kidding me look', rolled her eyes, twirled her hair between her fingers and looked out the window. I bit my lip as I gathered my stuff and turned away. 
"Making friends I see," Pat noted in a soft voice as we walked to the counter together. He moved his bucket of dirty dishes to his hip, pulled the wet rag off my left shoulder, and paused so I could go through the narrow walkway first.
"Always! Thanks," I responded with a wink. Pat chuckled. "She's got a thing for you." 
"Stuck up, prissy brunettes? I heard. I loved your response. It is a shame that you already cleaned that table. I never got a chance to put on a show," he teased. I giggled as I made my way to the window between the cooks and myself. I studied my ticket carefully, making sure I didn't need to get anything ready now. "She's not my type, anyways; I prefer blondes. They seem to be more in touch with their emotions." He winked back at me as he unloaded his dirty dishes into the dish cart. I put my ticket in the serving window and Joe grabbed it. I gave him a thumb's up and moved over to the silverware station so I could roll some silverware; it was also just around the corner from the dirty cart bin where Pat was so it was easier to talk to him.
"Wait. So is that the reason behind the camping trip? So we can sing kum-by-ah and get in touch with our feelings?" I teased. 
"No. Just a safety precaution. You seem to attract danger." 
"Nah. Today's just an off day. But I'm still smiling and standing tall. No danger here! Plus, you scare off any danger anyways so I'm set." 
"Always so strong, doll," Pat murmured and walked over to me with a grin. He washed and dried his hands before he began rolling silverware himself.
"Only for myself." 
"Hands, doll." 
"Feeling good." I held them out as I looked over the floor again. I looked at my hands and grinned. There was still a light shaking, but it was nearly gone. "Gotta go. Rounds. See ya," I remarked as I got back to work and made milkshakes, cleaned up sticky messes, made more coffee, took orders, delivered food, and just stayed busy. Pat was wiping the guest counter down when I passed him with another load of dishes. I looked in the window. The corner booth's food was ready. I smiled and mumbled to him, "time to make nice. Sorry, Pat, I'm not going to take it the food out in multiple trips this time." He nodded around a small chuckle. "Here you go, guys. Your salad, Marie. Burgers for the gents. Anything else?" I could smell liquor at the table. My mental red flag went up and I could feel the muscles in my body stiffen. 
"Hey, baby! What are you doing tonight?" Adam slurred and tried to grab my hand. "I can show you a good time." The table burst out laughing, with the exception of Lauren. She was shooting eye daggers at him.
"I'm camping. Sorry. I'm leaving as soon as I'm off." 
"When's that? Because I'll stick around. Camping. Fun. Alone in the woods. I'm in." 
"Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your food," I replied and walked away. I looked at the clock. 1:32. I still had 90 minutes in my shift. Suddenly, I felt ill. I made eye contact with Pat as I emptied my tickets on the counter and made my way to the break room. "I'm sorry, Josh," I whispered as I passed him. He just nodded. Immediately, Pat was on the phone, running into the kitchen. I walked through the break room door and saw Linda waiting for me. 
"I see, Pat. I thought after her day, she'd be back here earlier. Come on back, son. Sit down, sweetheart. What happened?" She asked me directly as Joe and Pat walked in with concerned looks on their faces. 
"I just got nauseated. My classmates are drunk and tactless. I am ready to be done. I just want to sleep. Or cry. Or run. I don't know. I'm sorry to let you all down. I didn't mean to fail you. Or my guests. What a day they've had! Here's your server, just kidding it's this one. Nope! This one." I crumpled into the wall, buried my face in my hands, and rested on my knees. 
"Mental breakdown? Isn't she a little young? Or is it another side effect?" Joe asked in a surprised tone.
"At this point, it's hard to say. Are you driving home, Annette?" Linda asked concerned. After meeting her eyes for a minute, thoroughly thinking it through, I was finally able to come up with an answer. 
"Um, well that's what I usually do after work," I admitted. I didn't want to go home. I knew that Dad would have a fit and I couldn't take it if he did; not today. I knew he was picking up an extra shift and that alone would be enough to put him in a foul mood, but I didn't know what time that shift started. It was too risky for me to go home too early and if I showed up when he was getting dressed in his uniform, I wouldn't doubt that he would use his expandable baton on me or his taser. I looked at Pat and teased, "but my warden says we're camping tonight." A small grin greeted me, but concern still was etched in his eyes. He opened his mouth to say something. So I gave him a genuine smile and continued, "Plus it actually sounds fun." A look of relief washed over his face. 
"Can you stay here, in this room for 20 minutes? I'll go get everything ready. I just don't think it's safe for you to go shopping, even if I was with you. It's easier for me to spot a threat and get you away from it here than anywhere else. This threat is real, doll; you almost collapsed earlier due to an attack this morning. Please. Just let me make sure you're safe tonight. If you think it's okay, Linda?" Pat wondered, asking if I was okay with this plan with his eyes. I nodded. 
"Yes. That's fine, you may go, Pat. I'm going on the floor. I'll help Josh finish up. Thank you for your help, Joe. Annette, you're taking the day off tomorrow." 
"I can't!" I protested.  
"No buts. If you're worse tomorrow, Pat's taking you to the hospital." 
"Yes, ma'am," I resigned. Everyone went their separate ways and I was left by myself on the floor against the wall. About five minutes in, I stood up, took off my apron off, rolled it up, and set it on the table. I started pacing the room and wringing my hands. I then took off my name tag and placed it on my apron. Pat's plaid shirt caught my eye as it hung on one of the wall hooks. "Do you have something to put over your clothes, 'Nettie?" I asked myself as I looked down at my work uniform. Going camping would only be ruined by smelling like fryer oil. I dug my keys out of my apron and decided I needed to go out to my car to grab my sweatshirt for camping. I walked out the back entrance. About halfway to my car, I heard a drunk Adam and Ryan laughing and talking coming around the corner. The corner was about ten steps away from my car. I couldn't deal talking to them, but if I turned around, they would spot me before I made it back inside. I froze, uncertain about what to do. I silently walked closer to the wall, diagonally and backwards in hopes they wouldn't see me. 
"See, man! I told you she didn't leave. There's her car," Ryan exclaimed. I froze in my tracks as Ryan, Lauren, and Adam stumbled past the corner. 
"Big whoop. She ran away obviously she didn't want you. But I'm right here, big man!" Lauren implied. Making her way to my car and kicking it. 
"I'll you catch guys later! Thanks ride of the my!" Adam garbled and burst out laughing. "Who says drinks Mormon? I means Mormon dry! Haha! You know what! I love you guys. MY LOVE!" Then he spun around and faced me. "ANNETTE!! You here are! Are. Mar. You! Annette!" I spun on my heels and tried to make a beeline for the door. Poor choice against two football players; they grabbed both my arms before I made it two steps, causing me to drop my car keys. I pushed with my feet off the concrete wall, trying to make one or both of them stumble and loosen their grasp. We moved a few few away from the wall. "No fights," Adam slurred, leaning into me. I used my right elbow and jabbed him in the gut. He looked at me in shock as he stood up. I glared at both men and tried to shake them off me again.
"Where are Dan, Derek, and Marie?" I asked. Marie always seemed sensible and I felt she would be my best ally in this situation. 
"Dan's driving them home," Ryan replied as he leaned in closer, his eyes dropping to my chest. I leaned away from him in disgust. Surprisingly, I didn't smell the liquor on his breath, but I knew he drank.  
"Do you really think that's the best thing to tell a cop's daughter? 'Uh hey, Dad. Here's a tip for you. Two cars of under-aged kids are driving home drunk." 
"We both know you wouldn't tell on us. Now, Annette, listen. Adam really wants to talk to you. Can't you spare him a minute?" Ryan pleaded, his eyes locked onto mine as he ran his hand up my arm. 
"Maybe when he's not drunk! Let go of me!" I snapped. 
"Can't. You are mine!" Adam slurred and leaned over with pursed lips. I leaned away as Ryan began to loosen his grip. "Kiss me!" Adam growled as he lost his footing and we stumbled towards the wall. Just then Lauren screamed. The three of us turned towards her. A slim man in his late forties held her by her hair with a gun pointed at her head. Behind him was a white extended van with dark tinted windows. I couldn't see in them, but I noticed I could see out the far windows. The side double door was open, the interior was dark gray and there was miscellaneous folds of dark fabric on the van floor. I could see two rows of seats, but figured there was a third one too. Behind the wheel was the guy from breakfast. 
"Get in. Now. Or I'll have my friend shoot your pretty friend here. All four of you. In the van now. If one of you reaches for your pockets, my friend will shoot you. Choose wisely." 
"Now listen beer. Lisp. Pen. Listen here." Adam released me, took a step towards the van, and shook his finger at the gunman. The gunman moved the gun from Lauren's head and pointed it at Adam. Lauren whimpered and stood up on her toes, her hands going to the back of her head. 
"Shut up. And get in. Now," the driver demanded again. "Do you want to see someone get hurt?" I felt the question was directed towards me. I slumped my shoulders forward and took a step towards the van. Adam froze and Ryan tried to pull me back. The gunman shoved Lauren in the van and pointed the gun at the guys behind me. "Buckle up, sweetheart. Let's face it, boys, you're not who we're after. You are more of an insurance to get her to comply. So your choice is to get in or my friend, Ronnie here, will pull the trigger. You've seen our faces. Death or compliance. Tick tock. Please, try and take the gun away from Ronnie. I'll shoot you myself," the driver warned.
"No," I gasped as I took another step forward.
"You'll get your turn soon enough, sweetheart. Boys, in. Now," the driver demanded. "Ronnie, right foot. Girl." Ronnie grinned and shifted his gun down slightly. "Move, boys, or your friend will be footless." With shocked, color-drained, and defeated faces, they both got in the van. Ronnie waved me in. I climbed in, and he followed, closing the door behind him and moved to the back seat. "Buckle up," the driver ordered as the sound of zip ties filled the empty air. I wordlessly obeyed, as did everyone else as I heard the seat-belts click one at a time. "Now, Ronnie is going to secure your limbs, and all four of you will be blindfolded. There will be no planning on running or hitting or escaping. Thank you for your cooperation." Moving towards the edge of the parking lot, the driver smiled slyly. Making eye contact with me in the mirror, he continued with a sneer, "this should be a fairly painless ordeal. I will knock you out with a sedative should the need arise. You really should have had breakfast with me. Or better yet, stuck with your guard dog. He would've been fun to put down. Nobody talks to me like that."  As he finished talking, he gave me a tilt of his head and began to pull away as Ronnie secured my wrists to the side panels. I followed the direction of the driver's head tilt and caught a glimpse of Pat pulling back into the parking lot in his forest green truck, a big grin on his face as Ronnie slid a black knapsack over my head. Silently, a tear dripped down my face. Pat was right; I was a danger magnet.

© 2017 Lynaelee

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Added on October 31, 2016
Last Updated on July 31, 2017

If only



Sometimes I feel like I need an outlet to express myself. I have never been good with verbal communication, but I have always found an out in writing. I hurt. I bleed. I make mistakes. I cry. Yes,.. more..

If only If only

A Book by Lynaelee

1. *Prologue* 1. *Prologue*

A Chapter by Lynaelee