Photograph by Gina Esguerra. Click the photograph for her amazing blog.
He opened the car door as if to get out when she stopped him,
“We drove an extra hour for this?”
“Trust me…best burger and fries I have ever had.”
“Where are we, anyway?” she said as she gathered her giant sunglasses and wallet and placed them into her Coach purse.
“Rosie’s Den. Arizona. Look, it’s on the steps!”
“Grand,” she said as she got out of the car. “Wait, where are my sunglasses?”
“You just put them in your bag. Look at these windows! Can you believe this?”
“You can’t even see inside there’s so much shit hanging in them.”
“Hmm, I was actually going to say there’s less stuff than I remember.”
She walked to the door and waited for him to catch up and open the door for her.
“Since when do you wait for me to hold the door?”
“It’s filthy…I didn’t want to touch it.”
He placed his hand on the small of her back as she passed him, then followed her inside.
The fluorescent lights by the door flickered as they entered, buzzed a bit and she turned in an attempt to leave, but he stopped her. “Trust me,” he said to her as an old woman with an obvious mustache in a vintage waitress outfit which was too small for her age approached them, her short skirt revealing antique, wrinkly legs with more varicose veins than either had ever seen.
“Hi! Two, please,” he told her in a cheery voice as his girlfriend shuddered. She clutched her purse tight against her chest as they were led to a booth right next to a bright Arizona Lottery sign in the window.
“Ugh, these windows are filthy! Don’t they ever wash them?”
“How could they with all that stuff on them?” he asked.
She shrugged as the waitress brought them menus. “I’m Flo,” she said.
“Really?” he asked.
“Yes, really,” she said with a bitter tone. “Do you want to hear the specials? Because I’m not wasting my breath if you already know what you want.” She took a cigarette out and lit it.
“Um…you know that’s illegal these days, right?” she asked the waitress.
“We already know what we want,” he said, picking up both menus and handing them back to Flo. “We’ll each have a burger and fries with a chocolate milkshake.”
Flo took both menus from his hand and practically stomped off as if this weren’t part of her job.
“There are things hanging from the ceiling back there covered in flies. This table looks as if it hasn’t been washed in ages. And did you see the cook back there?” She nodded toward the kitchen, which they could see through an order counter. Flo brought a burly balding man their order. He wore a filthy wifebeater covered in what could be years of spills, his hairy chest sticking out of it. “He is disgusting.”
“Just you wait. This burger is the best thing you’ve ever eaten. I guarantee it.”
A loud sizzling noise emitted from the kitchen as he said that as if to support his point.
She started rooting through her purse for something and started pulling out objects as she searched. Hair brush. Makeup. Birth control pills. Wallet. Finally she found what she was looking for, a wet-nap.
“There’s a bathroom.”
“I am not finding out what the bathrooms look like here. I’d rather use a port-a-potty.”
“You won’t use those when we go to football games.”
He started to look around at the many items hanging in the old diner. Random papers hung next to the register on the window; a few were bad checks while others seemed to be orders from companies they were awaiting. The open sign flickered a bit as Flo was suddenly next to them with their meals, which she slammed down in front of them a little too hard, throwing a few fries off each plate.
“No, I think we’re good,” he said with a huge smile.
“I want to see you try this.”
She sighed and picked up the burger. A quick turn showed the cheese sliding down the edges, a thick burger and a roll that had seen better days. As she sunk her teeth into it a pickle started to escape from the other side, but that didn’t matter. Her eyes widened as she savored the bite. She chewed with precision and finally swallowed the bite.
She smiled. “I hate when you’re right.” She sunk her teeth into another chunk of the burger as he picked his up.
“See? Told you.”
“Oh my God, it is SO good.”
He took a bite and did the same, except he frowned at the burger and looked at it as he chewed.
“What is it, hun?”
He put it down.
“Hmm. It’s not as good as I remembered.”