Liv lifted a stack of menus off the counter and watched the group stumble from the limo into the diner. There were eight of them. Five she'd known since high school, three were strangers. All were drunk. "Someone's gonna end up on the floor bleeding," she groaned to no one in particular. Stray flecks of glitter, left behind by women with names like Candy, sparkled in the fluorescent lighting. The scene always ended the same way.
Ignoring the 'Please Wait to be Seated' sign, the rowdy group piled into a red, naugahyde covered corner booth in her section. Of course they would choose a booth in her section. At least they were far away from the regulars.
"You're up awful late," she said to Cal, the leader of the group. "Aren't you getting hitched this afternoon?"
"Liv Driscol's my waitress!" he slurred, ignoring the menu she was trying to hand him. "Liv Driscol—the sexiest piece of..."
She tapped his cheek lightly with a menu. "Don't finish that sentence, Cal. Just go on and quit while you're only a little behind."
"Alright, alright. We just got back from partying all night in Denver. Me and my boys need some serious food. Mel's diner is the best. I fucking love Mel's," he paused trying to focus his red eyes on Liv.
"Our specials today are-"
"Dudes," Cal whispered loudly. "Hey guys, this is that chick I was telling you about," the drunken groom swayed in his chair. "Back in high school she raced the whole football team shotgunning a six pack. She finished a whole beer ahead!"
"Yeah, a real high point in my life. Now what can I get you boys to drink?" Liv pulled a worn yellow pad from her apron as the group settled into the table.
"Then she puked hot wings and beer all over the quarterback's Camaro! It was so awesome. She's a freaking legend!" Cal paused momentarily, trying unsuccessfully to look sober. He put his fist over his heart. "She's my hero," he sniffed dramatically as the table dissolved into drunken laughter.
"We went to high school together didn't we? The last time I saw you was at graduation. You got freakin' hot. How much for a lap dance?" the man who had supported the groom on the way into the diner giggled. The rest of the table held their breath, eyes focused on Liv.
"Hey Cal, you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?"
"Hey, easy there Liv, Mark's my best man. Remember, we were best buds in high school before he went off to get all educated. Besides, you know how mad Michelle's gonna be if he has a black eye in the wedding pictures."
"Alright, but you keep em' in line," Liv warned. She shot the best man a look that would freeze a polar bear dead in its tracks.
After taking their drink orders between drunken nonsense, Liv stormed over to the soda fountain behind the counter and began filling drinks.
"You alright?" Mel, the rotund owner of the diner, asked as Liv slammed a red plastic glass on the counter.
"Just one of those days."
"Hey is that Cal Huron over there? I haven't seen him in forever."
"Yep, that's him. He's getting married this afternoon, in the park."
"Oh yeah, I got an invitation rattling around somewhere. Is that his bachelor party over there?"
"Yep. Apparently they've been out all night partying or something. Speaking of which, I need a bowl of jalapeños. Dumbass number one over there bet dumbass number two five bucks that he wouldn't eat a bowl of jalapeños."
"Who's dumbass number one?" Mel raised a thick, burly eyebrow as he surveyed the full table.
"Pick one. Doesn't matter."
"I can give Jenny that table if you want. Those guys look like they'll be a real barrel of assholes. Don't want anyone getting hurt." Mel winked as he plopped a bowl of chopped jalapeños in front of her.
"Nah, I'll keep my tables. I can handle them. Don't worry about me."
"No one's worried about you," he laughed, wiping his hands on his stained apron. "Well, either way I can't wait to see how it turns out. I was figuring it would be a pretty boring Sunday morning. Hell, that bowl of peppers is on the house. Totally worth it for the entertainment value."
"Personally, I could really do without entertainment today." Liv gathered up the tray of glasses and headed back to the pack of drunken hyenas.
She distributed the drinks quickly.
"Alright boys, what'll it be?" she fished out her order pad.
A pudgy frat boy giggled, "I was looking at the pigs in a blanket," he and the guy next to him burst into fits of hysterical laughter, "and I was wondering how you would look in a blanket?"
"You would at least need to be funny to find that out," Liv sighed.
"Fuck it, Cal. I'm putting the whole table down for Mel's hangover special. No more orders." The excited look on the faces of the local boys confirmed that she had made the right choice.
Mel's hangover special was beyond legendary in the small town of Eagles Landing, Colorado. Mel would whip up the greasiest assortment of meats, mix them with scrambled eggs, douses the whole thing in white gravy and serve it with biscuits. Accompanied by unlimited coffee, residents swore it would cure the worst hangover in minutes. Legend had it that it could turn a bottle of Jack Daniels sober.
"Mel, hangover specials all around," she hollered at the kitchen. The sound of bacon sizzling on the hot grill filled the small restaurant as Liv went to check on her other tables.
"Hey Mr. Taylor, how's that omelet? Where's the Missus?" Liv asked, stopping at a small booth on her way back to the kitchen.
"Omelet's great. Just like it always is." The elderly man hooked his thumbs into the straps of his coveralls. "Wife thinks I'm home sick. Truth is, I didn't want to go to church today. I woke up dreaming about eating one of Mel's sausage green-chili omelets. I figured Jesus would understand. If he comes back anytime soon, he'll stop by this place first."
"I would really hope he has better things to do ... unless he comes back drunk. Then this is the place."
"Speaking of fire and brimstone, I need to get the check and get home before Momma gets out of church. We'll probably be back for lunch before Cal's wedding so, if you don't mention you saw me here earlier, I'll make it worth your while." The white haired man dropped two fives on the table. "Hey, look at me, I'm like Jim Wilke's Booth the way I'm dropping Lincolns." He slapped the table, laughing at his own wit.
"That's funny and terrible Mr. Taylor, I'll get the check for you. Don't worry, I won't rat you out," Liv winked as she rushed off to the cash register.