Welcome to another Friday Freewrite. Some days I just need to sit down and write. Some Fridays I share what I’ve written with you.
At the height of the lunch rush, Charlie used her booted leg to punch open the swinging kitchen door and maneuver her way across the filthy tile floor. Littered in the crooked rows of dingy grout were the grooves of fossilized French fries and other fast food crumbs that had fallen off a finished plate and been ground into the floor by the feet of a dozen servers, all begrudgingly dressed in the uniform of thick black slacks and non-slip shoes.
But today, Charlie had the right to complain about her outfit. In the mid-July heat, the stiff black boot secured tightly around the bottom two thirds of her leg was trapping sweat like a thermos. It forced the beads to craw back up her pant leg. With every step, it collected forgotten remains of cheeseburger sliders and congealed macaroni that had fallen to the floor. As she walked, her mere body weight ground the food deeper into the scuffs that lined the plastic underside of her boot. She’d then trail the mush out onto the dining room’s brightly patterned carpet, adding to the collage of neglected sludge.
Charlie had always preferred hardwood. The number of flattened crusts she had smushed into the deep blue speckled carpet that morning alone only reinforced that preference in her mind. Hardwood was easy to clean. You could always spot dirt on it. With carpet, the remains of a roast beef road kill could be lurking there for days before a vacuum collected them.
The mere thought of it made her squirm.
“Table Four just got sat, Char,” the hostess called out, waking Charlie from her putrid reverie and alerting that she had a new customer to attend to.
With a brief sigh and the farce of a smile affixed to her face, Charlie deposited her armload of dirty dishes on the metal counter beside the kitchen’s industrial sink and listened to the clang. She drug her Velcro-clad leg back out onto the floor, trying not to search the carpet for the hash browns she had squashed by Table Two.
Determined to make it through the end of her shift without gagging, Charlie kept her chin up on the walk over. She forced herself to scan the faces of her happy customers instead of the flattened bits of food beneath their tables.
And that’s when she saw him. The health inspector. Seated at her table, ready to order.