He should have known better than to order the burger on a sesame-seed bun, but oh, they were tasty. Sadlacks knew how to do ‘em, and on a hot summer night a burger and beer were just about the best things to take the heat from the day and the cares from his mind.
That seed though. It was trouble. He’d been working at it for a little while when the waitress came out. She was a new girl, fresh as a daisy even in the hot damp Carolina summer evening. Pretty thing, long hair swinging with each step. Not the kind of girl you want notcing your dental excavations. Eb stopped sucking and picking as she approached.
“Hey, everything OK here?”
“That burger OK?”
“You done with it? Want me to wrap it?”
“Naw. I’m not finished yet.”
“Why’d you stop eating?”
“I had to think on something for a while.”
She refilled his water glass and went back inside, a puff of air conditioning from the dark bar whooshed out, ruffling his paper napkin.
Eb recommenced picking. Plastic fork tines and his credit card were too thick. Pinkie fingernail was not good either, it just rammed the seed toward the middle of the gap. That seed got wedged further and further down, mashing his gum sore. Swishes of water didn’t do any good, even when he let the water warm in his mouth so it wouldn’t zing the nerves of his two sensitive teeth.
Stupid seed. Stupid bun. Five dollars of good burger rendered inedible while he struggled with this one small invader. Eb was sure he was making faces that wouldn't invite other diners in, and didn’t much care. That damn seed needed to be evicted.
She came out again. He stopped picking.
“Hey. You still thinking?”
“Yep. Got something on my mind.”
“Can I help you with it?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Ha! Think so! Good one!”
“I suppose it was. What’s your name, young lady?”
“Amy. What’s yours?”
“Well Eb, I’ll come back and check on you in a little bit. It’s slow tonight so you can have the table as long as you need a space for thinking.”
She slid the bill folder across the table to him and left.
Inside was the expected slip of paper, which was wrapped around a flat plastic toothpick. She’d written “Penny for your thoughts” at the bottom, with a big smiley face trailing off the “s.”
He left more than a penny, kept his thoughts to himself, and smiled the two blocks home.