Peggy V Paula

Peggy, pink apron,
pig nose, complexion like a pepperoni pizza, on her period, pooling plasma, pad in position, pen to paper, plucking orders professional from Paula's customers: "Did your water girl tell you about the specials?"

The poor people placed their orders but had no idea what was coming: the police and paramedics said Peggy put cat poison in the pumpkin pie and paraquat in the potato pancakes, killing Paula’s customers perfect. It wasn’t personal: it was just waitressing.

Life was tough at the Table Talk: the busboys had a half-life of sixty days, and the ones who lasted past were under psychiatric evaluation. Their hair fell out in clumps, clogging the sanitizer, and their heart palpitations and epileptic episodes shattered more than one water pitcher in a thousand pieces. The diner was a perilous place: a packed powerhouse nearly 24/7, with hungry mouths and open wallets, people pounding pasta and packing pickles until they passed out. For the staff there was never any break, never any lull, and a waitress had to die or miss parole before a new one could be hired. Still, there was never a more polarizing pair than Peggy & Paula: pure, passionate, perennial, permanent.

Legend had it- and I’m paraphrasing Pepe the paraplegic proofreader- that they both started on the same day, both fell into a physical relationship with Nick the manager, both under the impression they were the only pie on his plate. When Paula caught Nick porking Paula in the pantry she pulled her pigtails out her scalp, leaving Peggy with two purple pockmarks and a perpetual prescription for pain pills.

Since then it was war declared: both competed for the regular tables, the parties of eight or more, the good-looking men, the tips, the tips... oh my God the tips. And sometimes, yes, they killed each other’s customers.

Paula, face like a concrete abutment, skirt so high she spilled thigh in the breadbasket, bending over slow, C-cup spilling pretty in the French Onion soup, giving jiggle silly good to Peggy’s table of frat guys: "Okay you studs- your waitress had to run. You can pay me." Paula all smiles as she pocketed her partner’s proceeds.

The next day Peggy had one ton of pig manure piled into Paula’s parking place.

They kept a running count of tips on their shift: Paula would bring her customers expired peach parfaits to pump up her gratuity. It would piss off Nick: “It isn’t right,” but twenty percent was twenty percent. Peggy, pathological, would do her shifts without panties and bend over backwards for her customers, bringing half-price Pepsis to parched pot heads, and when Paula found out she peeled a ply of skin from Peggy’s chest with her freshly-painted Passion Pink fingernails.

“There’s a birthday party of 17 tonight,” Peggy said persuasive, her puckered mouth around Nick’s swollen member, “make sure you put those people in my section.”

Paula, later that night, in the ladies room: “The cast of that play is having their after-party here… ” She pounded Nick’s pelvis as he lay passive on the porcelain. “I could really use the paycheck.”

It was impossible to please them, the other waitresses paranoid, petrified, afraid to show up for shifts or look any of the diners in the eye. Peggy & Paula were pushing everyone around, their hatred so profane and so profound it threatened to destroy the fabric of the food-service industry as we know it.

After the death toll peaked at one hundred Nick knew it was time to get proactive. He pulled Peggy and Paula from the floor, pointed them to the back and prayed for peace: "We are running a business here." He made them shake hands and promise to play nice.

It was an unlikely pact, transitory, but the girls pressed the flesh with pokerfaces.

That was when Nick decided to introduce the new girl in the pink apron.

"Peggy, Paula... this is Punky. She’s gonna be waiting tables with you."

The busboys made the sign of the cross.

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