"When you get to the bottom, you go back to the top of the slide, where you stop and you turn and you go for a ride," she rambled, trying not to emphasize the rhymes. "Till I get to the bottom and I see you again."
"Let me stop you right there," he said. "If I want to hear the words to 'Helter Skelter,' I will listen to the Beatles in my car. I don't want to hear that song right now. And not recited like you are trying to be deep."
She didn't say anything for a few minutes. She didn't peg him for a Beatles fan but she knew that no one ever knows what someone knows until you know that someone. Thinking about that last sentence made her temples throb, so she gave up the lyrics and spoke again.
"Hand towel wincing. White tornado activates the black globe. While away the donuts in cave followed by Michael Phelps. Dancing horses want cabbage on the rain in Spain."
He never turned his head to look at her just as she'd not looked at him.
"Are you having a stroke?" he asked her. "If you are having a stroke then someone -- maybe not me but someone -- needs to call 9-1-1. So, are you having a stroke?"
"No," she said. "I am not having a stroke."
"Then what is with all the bullcrap? Song lyrics? Gibberish? What do kids say today? WTF? Yeah, what the fuck?" he asked with some impatience.
"I don't know you," she said flatly. "Why would I tell you things that are personal to me when I don't know you. I can't trust you if I don't know you."
He sighed and drummed his fingers on the table, and shifted on the banquette.
"I get it," he said. "Point well taken. Tell you what. You take a leap of faith and tell me what's bothering you in under twenty words. I bet I can help you. If I can't, I will walk away and the table is yours. If I do help you, we still share. Fair enough?"
She thought about this. She had nothing to lose by giving him twenty words. Maybe he was a jobs savant and could give her a clue on what to do.
"Fair enough," she said after a few minutes. "Let me compose my words."
He looked at the entrance to the establishment while she turned her eyes to the ceiling to compose the twenty words or less.
"Got it," she said.
"Go," he replied.
"My boss likes people who suck up. I don't suck up," she said.
He was quiet for a minute and then he turned and looked at her for just a second and then returned to looking forward.
"You are effed, my friend. If someone needs suck-ups around him, then that person lack confidence. You will never be anything other than wrong. How long has he been your boss?"
When he said it, she knew he was right. Her stomach turned over but she replied.
"It will never ever get better. He didn't go to college and you did, am I correct?"
"Yes, you're right."
"He was in the military, maybe?"
"Yeah, you're effed. I am really sorry. I bet you're good at your job, too."
She just felt sicker and sicker. Her ears rang. Her head thumped. She closed her eyes tight and held her breath. She felt his hand on hers.
"Look, he's a jerk. You just have to get out of there and you'll be fine," he said and took his hand back.
"I know," she said, "but jobs are hard to come by. There are no jobs in my field. I worked in the field too long and potential employers think I can't do anything else."
" 'Potential employers'," he said. "Who talks like that?"
"Me," she said, her voice getting a little more shrill than she liked. "I talk like that."
"Okay, fine, sorry," he said. "But you know you can do anything, right?" he asked.
"Yes, I can do anything." She turned and looked at him and their eyes met. "Anything."
"Eyes front, please and thanks," he said, and she looked out at the restaurant, determined to not say another word.
"You can work for me," he said. "I have a job I can teach you. The pay's good, you'll have more free time, and I'll be your boss. You already know I don't need you to suck up."
She was still determined to not say anything but a total stranger, someone she'd just met ten minutes before, had figured out why her boss was such a jerk and offered a solution to her problem. She had to say something to this.
"What the hell are you talking about?" she asked. It wasn't what she thought she was going to say or even what she wanted to say but she'd said it and she wanted an answer.
"I need a smart person to work for me," he said. "Someone with a spine who can stand up to me and to my clients and can go with whatever's tossed their way. I am thinking that might be you." He paused and added, "And I offer a beautiful medical insurance package with dental."
She burst out laughing and just let the laughter come out of her for as long as it needed. Some people looked their way but most just minded their own business after an initial glance. She could be quite crazy for all they knew, and it could be contagious, and why is that handsome man sitting next to her smiling? Like they're together?