The restaurant was crowded. I wasn't used to that, and I didn't like it either. Families, huge families, some having over fifteen people, were all sitting around tables chattering, laughing, and yelling over everyone else so they could be heard. In the kitchen, the chefs were yelling and threatening each other.
All the sounds blend together, the clinking of silverware and glasses, the chattering and laughing, the screaming chefs. As loud as it is, it's almost intoxicating. “If you mess this up, I will kill you family!” I hear Gus yell a little too loud. Gus is the best, and probably the most intense chef in this restaurant. He has his own book. Sure, he's terrifying and he yields the spatula with an iron fist, but he sure knows what he's doing.
“Ow! Watch it, man!” I hear Terry shriek. All the sounds of the stressed, screaming chefs who aren't used to this much business and the plain, boring chattering of the customers start to change from intoxicating to loud and obnoxious. It make me feel sick. I lean against the wall.
“Hey!” Gus shouts at me. “Don't stop washing those dishes, boy!” I nod briskly and continue scrubbing at the ivory colored plates and crystal glasses. This restaurant is usually a place for couples, but I guess there either aren't a lot of couples here, or Cupid died recently, because we were losing A LOT of business.
Gus decided to make our restaurant a more family friendly place so we wouldn't shut down. Now it's packed. Every table is full. There's a line out front. Our town is small, and a couple families stopped by. I guess word spread pretty fast that our food was good, because we've been doing really well lately.
“Can you grab a to-go box?”
“A to-go box.” Says Andrea. Her hair is pinned back, and as usual, she's wearing a vibrant shade of lipstick. Purple today.
“Oh, uh, yeah.” I say reaching onto a shelf and grabbing a foam box. “Here.” I say.
“You okay today?”
“You seem a little off.”
“What? No. No, I'm fine. Just tired.” That wasn't a lie. It just wasn't the whole truth. I was tired. That's because I stayed up all night waiting for my newborn baby sister to get out of the hospital. Andrea gives me a tight smile and briskly walks away. The hours slowly go by as I scrub at the plates and silverware. The calls telling me to hurry up grow farther away. Before I know it, the last family is leaving. I take off my rubber yellow gloves and put them over the sink.
I pass Gus on the way out the door. “How's your sister?” He asks gruffly.
“Uh, fine I guess.”
“Can she come home yet?”
“No… Uh, not yet, but maybe soon.”
“Good luck to her.”
“Thanks.” I say grimly. He walks off into the opposite direction. The sun has set an hour ago, and I'm forced to ride my bike home in the dark. The outside are is cool and refreshing, but feels weird and dirty as well, like the cold is clinging to my skin.
I start riding down the dark street. It isn't that late, so I see people still about. Cars driving down the road, homeless people curled up in bus stops. I turn a corner and ride down my street. At the end of the street, there's my house.
I turn the key in the lock and push open the door. It's ten, and my nine year old brother is still awake. He and my Dad are in the dark living room with the TV blaring. “Where's mom?” I shout.
“Asleep.” Says Dad. I switch off the TV.
“Johnny has school tomorrow. He should go to bed.” I say. Johnny and Dad roll their eyes at the same time.
“Come on, Jeff.” Johnny says. “It's Friday tomorrow. I probably won't even go to school.” He moans. I look at my Dad.
“I can't make him to school tomorrow. He's worried about his sister. He's a little kid, Jeff.”
“You don't even go to school.” Says Johnny mockingly. I'm a highschool dropout, yes, but not because I'm stupid. I didn't get amazing grades, but it's not like a flunked every test. I just decided highschool wasn't my thing. I regret it now. The restaurant was the only place I could get a job. I thought by now I'd be a famous athlete or something.
“Go to bed, Johnny.” I say sternly. He sighs and goes up the stairs. “You-”
“Need to give him more discipline, I know, I know.” My Dad says.
“If you know, then do it. He's gonna end up like me.”
“What? A dropout?” I glare at him.
“Yes. A dropout.” I say coldly.
“But you like being a dropout.” He says.
“That kid is going to have the same life as me! Stuck in a crappy job washing dishes!” We're silent for a minute. “From now on, he's going to bed at eight forty-five.” I say. Dad rolls his eyes and slowly gets up off the couch.”
“I can't run this house by myself.” I say.
“You shouldn't try.” He says. He stalks out of the room.