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        A little later, when I bring them another basket of crackers, she's finished her drink and orders another.

        Before I pick up her empty glass, she's grabbing more crackers and stuffing them in her mouth.

        You all right? I say.

        She nods and takes a sip of water. Just need to eat, she says.

        I see the Jack Nicholson guy waving his glass at me. He looks like he might cry if I don't hurry.

        So I go tell Kenny to make the guy another martini. Give Sasha that table, I say, nodding my head at Jack Nicholson. I'll tip her out.

        When I put the potato skins and the Mountain on their table, Pudgy doesn't wait for me to leave like most people do. She starts right in, forking the Mountain. She uses her fingers to push more cheese and onions on fries then lifts them to her nose. God, this smells good, she says. I haven't had chili fries in a hundred years.

        Gay guy picks at a potato skin, scrapes the toppings off, and pushes them to the side of his plate. He slices the potato into three delicate pieces. Dips one in salsa and pops it in his mouth.

        She perks up a little. Laughs. She grabs gay guy's plate and scrapes the rejected cheese and sour cream onto the chili fries.

        I squeeze her shoulder as I walk away—like I do everybody—only she looks up at me like she's surprised. She smiles real nice. But not happy-like. More like relief, I think. And I wonder about that as I go off to pick up the soccer moms' bill. Keep the change, one says. A dollar and twenty-eight cents on a fifty-dollar tab! (Right then I'd like to play soccer with those two tight asses.)

        While I'm bussing the stingy bitches' table, I glance back at Pudgy and see that she's eaten half the Mountain. She's just put another bite in her mouth, licking her fingers. I dump the plates at the station, pick up the vodka order, and head back to their table.

        I hardly ever eat like this, she says. Tomorrow things are gonna change.

        So you're celebrating, I say. Dressed up all pretty for a night out?

        I don't know about that, she says. She points to a chili stain on the white top. Guess, I should've asked for a bib, she says. She dips her napkin in the glass of water and wipes.

        I go back to the station, and Sasha's there, looking at Pudgy, shaking her head.

        God she's such a pig.

        She don't feel good, I say.

        Coulda fooled me, Sasha says.

        I give her one of my cram it looks and go back to their table. I put down a stack of napkins. How are your drinks?