They come in looking around Little King’s, it’s a glance that says look at me. They pass by the mirrors, eyes for themselves only, feasting on the couples that hide in the recesses. They don’t see you, they don’t see me. They come to eat. They eat to come. The food is meat. The food is people, names, diaries, lunches, cock. I wait on them. Same crowd. They pass through the square restaurant, past the hunchbacked busboys Danny and David, looking like a pair of comic statues. I’ve served this crowd for months, they don’t even know my name. Not that who I am would be of interest to them. Little King’s used to be called Viande Exotique. Now we have Rupert running the show. Rotund snotty Rupert who needs a blow job more than anyone and will never get it. Not from this crowd. They sit there and talk. My customers.
There’s Bertha, married to Don. I call her The Snatch, he’s The Wallet. She’s mid- forties, overweight, good thighs, wears her skirts too high, shows her cleavage in La Senza, likes to wear her blouses unbuttoned to where you can make out the hint of a black lace, a neat line of the cup on her full tits. She wears too much makeup and yaks about shopping and sex. Don doesn’t hear her, they’re engaged in monologues, he boasts of the money he’s made and talks of his secretary in a lewd manner, thinking his wife doesn’t notice. He wears suits, grease stains on his shirt front, a smutty man heading towards old age with no inhibitions. He touches his phallus from time to time as he eyes passing women. I reckon he likes the company of women with a meretricious streak, makes a low bid and ups it until they let him slide it in. He’s more money than dick, a guy who lives for the moment when he can tell his buddies.
THE SNATCH: ‘I crave something exotic tonight.’
THE WALLET: ‘A sauce of mushrooms and pink delight,’ reading from the menu, grinning.
They all look at the menu now, a gastronomic joke bound in cheap red leather. It belongs on a porn set, it ought to be smeared with come. Their eyes wonder away from the table, away from each other. Don adjusts his collar, Bertha glances at her son and his girlfriend.
Tom is thin, emaciated, as if he hasn’t eaten for a year. I call him the Helium Boy. He has small narrow eyes and an expression caught somewhere between a sneer and erotic shock. He talks endlessly of his business deals and his ideas, small clichés that tumble from his pale lips like cartoon bubbles. Beside him sits Mary. I call her the Vacuous Doll. She’s the prize of the party. Dumb as she is, she has the body of a model, and I imagine, from the glimpses I’m afforded as I serve the bread, great tits. I imagine her on her back in stilettos, her red fingernails clutching her thighs as she holds her legs up for the entrée. She always orders the chorizo. I’m sure her throat is familiar with depraved sounds.
HELIUM BOY: ‘I’ll have it rare tonight.’
VACUOUS DOLL: ‘I think I‘m going off meat.’
Not all meat, Vacuous Doll. I know the things you enjoy, I’ve seen you stare at them with obsessive aroused eyes, I’ve seen your fingers curl around them like erotic tendrils.
THEY SHED SEXUAL CRUMBS.
Ella is behind the bar, she is always behind the bar, her cleavage showing beneath her blouse. She flirts with customers, she’s a lesbian with a penchant for prick teasing. She wears too much makeup and has tiny false eyelashes hardly worth wearing. I check my refection in the mirror behind her cheap ass. My beard has grown, I’m tall and I look like the owner with my well-earned strut. I watch as Ella bends, displaying the curve of tight buttocks. I ought to go behind the bar and show her what it’s made for. Her mouth is a sliced peach and I wonder about her, naked, prone beneath a pink harpoon. The bar sits at the centre of the place, a water feature dripping at the back like an onanistic outpouring or erotic frustration and dismay.
I go over to their table, I serve their bread, my manner correct, attentive, military, a waiter with his hands behind his back, watching Vacuous Doll. I’d like to part her thighs beneath the linen cloth that hangs below the table, touch her oyster with my tongue and summon groans from her she never knew existed while Helium Boy farts out of his throat.
The Snatch tears her roll apart with talons and drops crumbs onto her thighs. She drops her napkin and I stoop to pick it up and watch her raise the hem of her tiny pink skirt, no panties, and stick her finger inside herself, sliding the burgundy nail in, across the luminescent skin. She winks at me as I hand her napkin back. She’s tempting me to tempt The Wallet.
Tiny ointments. Food ecstasies for the crowd. I feed the zoo. I pop small pieces of meat onto The Snatch’s tongue. She has it extended across her lips, and takes the morsels like a lizard into her hospitable mouth. I caress Vacuous Doll, touching her breasts while Helium Boy cackles to a non-existent crowd. He needs to convince them she’s his. But she’s not, she’s mine. I enter her thighs with chorizo hard and firm snatched from the Spanish mountain. It is sweating beneath its tight skin, a muscle of desire for her body.
They eat fast, their mouths chew on things they never knew they wanted. I see their pleasure rise.
BRIGHTLY POLISHED KNIVES AND FORKS.
They never tip, they never fucking tip, those small-minded bastards, clutching their genitals beneath the table like cash. I polish knives and forks.
First the finger then the slime, then I’ll pour a little wine. I see her eyes follow me, she is mine and they will see.
They order the meats, they always order meat, as if they need it. I nod and take the orders, glancing from time to time at Vacuous Doll, who shows me a nipple, while Helium Boy picks sardines from his teeth and The Wallet searches for his balls. It is a failed enterprise, since despite his certain obfuscations and ready assurances I served them to The Snatch years ago, in a placenta sauce covered in chocolate dripping from unripened ovaries and cooked over a coal fire in a porn studio. Such fine fare at Viande Exotique. The Snatch is engaged in twilight reveries, imagining herself young and nubile and capable of acrobatic sex again. She is the erotic gymnast of your dreams, a disdainful prostitute who sneers before she eats. But she’s all about cock and that’s why she comes here.
I serve it rare and bleeding and watch them dive into the bloody gravy on their plates. They rise with violent eyes and seek pleasures that are unlawful outside this place. I know what they come for and I have it for them. I am the untipped waiter who will show them ecstasy, I have their meat on celluloid, a set of food shots that will turn their heads and make them whine.
The chef is insane. Let him loose with a butcher’s knife and he’d hack off their finer points in the brief, unnoticed beating of a bat’s wings. I know my crowd and their predilections, I know their tastes and their private desires, nothing is private in here. Me, I’m Maurice, chief of the waiters who idle about this place waiting for midnight.
I watch my crowd eat. I listen to them talk, the four monologues conducted at once in various accents.
THE SNATCH: ‘So I bought it, what else was there to do?’
THE WALLET: ‘I gave him five big ones, the guy wanted more.’
THE SNATCH: ‘It’s a tiny red one Don, it’ll fit neatly in a drawer, I tell ya, and it goes with those shoes, you know those shoes.’
THE WALLET: ‘She came in late I paid her less.’
THE SNATCH: ‘I can do that, I can do that, wait for me, you’ll love it, imagine those heels on the rug.’
She holds up a hand and sighs.
THE WALLET: ‘He said I was losing hair, screw him.’
He grabs his phallus and looks around.
THE SNATCH: ‘The rug by the fire you know how you like it.’
THE WALLET: ‘I paid him seventy.’
THE SNATCH: ‘Do you like my nails?’
THE WALLET: ‘I can think of what I’d like to see them doing.’
The Snatch holds her nails up and looks at The Wallet, looks at me, but he is looking away as I am at Vacuous Doll. She is sitting with her lips parted as Helium Boy Talks. He has this high-pitched voice. She looks aroused, waiting for the debauchery I have on offer. She glances at me and wipes a snail across her mouth.
HELIUM BOY: ‘I got deals, good deals, going on.’
VACUOUS DOLL: ‘Are you going to show me your midnight movie?’
HELIUM BOY: ‘She hit me hard on the cash front. I screwed her down, took the deal and cashed over to the business.’
VACUOUS DOLL: ‘Meat’s tender.’
HELIUM BOY: ‘I know what they need, I gave it to them, that’s how I make my money.’
VACUOUS DOLL: ‘I use nails, knives, all the things you do not know, I crave the dark night rhythm he gave to me.’
They talk on and on, The Wallet fingers the rims of his dollar bills while The Snatch plays with her pussy, raising the odour of mackerel to the dinners’ nostrils. Helium Boy talks as Vacuous Doll begins to strip for me, all eyes on me as she starts the show. I know the show, I made the show while they decided not to tip me. The chef is sharpening his knives in the kitchen while I prepare dessert. I know what they like to eat, I know things they crave.
Vacuous Doll is aroused as I help her strip for them. I barbecue and cover her in sauce while she whines into Helium Boy’s empty ear, nipple to throat on the linen cloth.
Empty pockets breed cameramen. I hold the lens and watch them moan, their ecstasies are mine beneath the soft empire of the dessert. My dessert is theirs. After all, I am their waiter. And while you may think this is happening in my mind I will show you what I know. I will tell you how I found her out there in the back room with the other waiter, the one they tip.
They came here week in week out and never paid me a penny. I saw them watch, I saw their desires beneath the body of food. The Snatch parted her thighs and pulled spoons from her maw as she eyed the chef. And I saw her, Vacuous Doll. She met the waiter in the back room as I watched. She stripped, and peeled her skin away, skirt then lips to liquid. She took his chorizo in deep past her pink lips, all the way down. She wanted the water feature at the back of her throat. There was nothing vacuous about her as she parted her legs. She held herself open for him.
The waiter slid inside and Vacuous Doll moaned, she laughed at Helium Boy and talked of the phallic dollar, the enterprise of the flaccid man. She said she needed it hard and ready, and give it to me now here back to the wall cunt ready as a piece of oyster meat. She said she dwelt in the orgasm of the tongue.
These diners play their games and speak their monologues and I hand them the bill. I study them as they sign. They atrophy in secret pleasures. They come out at night to lie and feign their public study in themselves. I have their desserts. I have frothed the cream and made it palatable to their minds. I am the waiter. I have bought the restaurant.
I hand it to them. Cold as ice cream. I look into The Wallet’s eyes as he studies the bill. I watch The Snatch seek distant arousal beneath the table cloth, her second dress, the one she likes to shed just before she comes. I listen to Helium Boy in erotic frenzy, a small chirping boy lost in tit and pussy, hungry for dollars and his father’s cash. And all the while Vacuous Doll raises the level of her arousal. Fingers move beneath the table, the odours rise.
The Wallet signs, hands me the bill. No tip. I nod. Retreat, return. I hold my knife in my hand and I study The Wallet’s throat. I look at them all, now waiting for me to hand them mints and chocolates. I show them the movie. I’ve set it up on the monitor on the restaurant’s wall. And now the images explode like semen.
Helium Boy laughs, stutters, has a fit as he watches Vacuous Doll suck waiter cock in the back room among brooms and stacks of beer. He stares as she spreads her ample thighs and the waiter mounts her. He rides her into an erotic flood, more sucrose than cream. She is spent, ready and cunt loquacious, a prime meat piece tenderised and priced for The Wallet. Except The Wallet ain’t buying, The Snatch has him in her hungry maw.
I hand them the bill, my movie. I serve them the gratuity show. I can tell, as I lay my steady hand down, that they are watching me, for the first time. The Snatch eyes Vacuous Doll with barely hidden jealousy. The wallet looks for spare balls and The Helium Boy coughs splinters and didoes onto his soup plate. The Vacuous Doll picks one up, looks at him and says, ‘So that’s where they went all that time I was looking for them.’
One day the Helium Boy will find his cock locked inside the Vacuous Doll’s maw, but until then until he’ll have to satisfy himself with her conversation. It offers him the illusion of superiority while she screws the men he sees as his subordinates. It’s a subtle sexual subversion by the Vacuous Doll. She gets to come and he gets to dribble.
I hand them the bill again. I stare at The Wallet, I lean into his sanguine face and see two veins twitch at the corners of his distant eyes.
‘I own the rights, I made the movie,’ I say, ‘now hand me the cash.’
He coughs dollar bills onto the table, his tongue erect, monstrous in his mouth. I will end his sanguinity like a sick petal. The Snatch fingers the tablecloth. She watches the show. The Helium Boy stares at Vacuous Doll, he glances at her breasts as they rest on her plate, her nipples erect, projectile and wet. I turn and watch her on the screen, the body of a model riding the waiter in the back room. The Helium Boy does not understand the sounds she makes. He tries to assess his worth in her aroused eyes, a vague image of his face on the screen. This is the gratuity show and I’m paid in celluloid and camera glazed skin. Always tip the waiter.
Richard Godwin is the author of critically acclaimed novels Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour, One Lost Summer, Noir City,Meaningful Conversations, Confessions Of A Hit Man, Paranoia And The Destiny Programme and Savage Highway.