Hell Waitress

Sure, I take more crap here — it’s the nature of the place. The men are a little grabbier, the women a little more demanding. On the other hand, everybody tips a little better. They all want to show me they’re the mistake, the one who doesn’t really belong here. Some people try to be extra-polite. They smile and thank me when I tell them we’re out of something. We run out of fish pretty often; water too.

But I’d say the main difference is how nervous everybody is. They’re always looking over their shoulders, waiting for a thug to hold them up or a car to come crashing through the front window. The men keep patting their wallets; the ladies dig their fingernails into their purses. At the beginning, I used to tease them.

“You’re in hell,” I’d say, “how much worse could it get?”

They just looked at me like I was crazy. Then I started to feel it too, the way you cling on to every little thing as though you’d die without it, even though you’re already dead.

When I try to imagine heaven I see a bunch of people with their hands open. All kinds of good stuff is falling from the sky — gold, candy, tiny beautiful babies the size of hummingbirds — but they just let it slide through their fingers, smiling.

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