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June 2020


By | Serial | No Comments

Twenty minutes later Rhea was at the Denny’s on Sunset and Gower, sprinkling Tabasco on a side order of onion rings. The waitress, George, was hovering behind the counter. She looked around to make sure no one was looking then slipped Rhea’s tamale out of a microwave and gave it to her.

“I owe you.” Rhea thanked her.

“Yep.” George agreed.

Rhea sprinkled it with bottled green taco sauce. George poured her an iced coffee then watched as Rhea tore the ends off three packs of Sweet ‘n Low and stirred them into it.

“That stuff’ll rot your brain.” George commented.

“So will LA.” Rhea replied, “Yet here I stay.”

Three empty stools down, a stylish Mexican man working on a Denver omelette chuckled.

“You love it here.” George affirmed.

“It’s unrequited.” Rhea pointed out.

George leaned in, tried to pump her up a little, “You’ll get your job back.”

Rhea let out a breath, she did not want to talk about it, “Can you get me the “Cholula” too, please?” She asked.

“Bad night?” George asked as she got Rhea the third bottle of hot sauce, the “Cholula”.

“Bad date. I’m out two tamales and I’ve got chili sauce all down my thighs.”

The omelette man looked up.

Rhea drizzled Cholula over her food.

“Where do you find them?” George asked her.

“The guys or the tamales?” Rhea asked as she took a bite.

“The guys.”

“…they’re around.” Rhea demurred. She was tired and frustrated and wanted to forget about that too. The tamale on the other hand, was pretty fine and she ate it with pleasure.

“You know, that editor guy who comes in here really likes you.” George continued.

“He’s not my type.” Rhea dismissed the idea.

“What, too nice?” George dug in.

Rhea winced, “Yeah. Maybe I should just date you.”

George leaned in close, “You’re not gay.”

Rhea smiled, “My biggest flaw.”

“Hardly.” George let her know and left for another customer.

Rhea laughed. It felt good. George was a friend, maybe even a good one. She knew a thing or two about Rhea.

“Where do you get the tamales?” the fifty-ish omelette man asked.

Rhea looked at him for a minute. So the Vato was an eavesdropper. Well, wasn’t everyone?

“Out of the trunk of a Buick in Boyle Heights.” She smiled then turned away but the man wasn’t done.

He moved closer and asked, “You want to make a little money?”

WTF, Rhea thought. “Sorry, Dude, I don’t do old guys.”

“I don’t do white chicks.” He shot back then asked, “But I like the way you eat. Can you write?”

“What?” she said, looking at him again, closer. He was sober. Present. Serious.

“Can you write?” he asked again.

“A little.” She found herself answering, oddly wanting to impress him. “Mostly reports. Sometimes some… musings I guess you could say. Why?”

“I need a food writer.” He explained.

“Seriously?” Rhea didn’t believe him. Getting offered an interesting gig at two in the morning at Denny’s seemed unlikely. Cool shit like that didn’t happen. Not to her.

“Seriously.” Omelette Man confirmed.

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