Malibu Seafood

The yammering of the folks next to me was endless. There were two registers and they were ordering at the one on the left and I on the right. Except my cashier went into the back to do something or other and I was stuck listening to this group of invalids spew their wants and needs to their cashier. Her face empty. She scribbled their orders down and when the leader of the gang, a scrawny, pale flea of a man, would pep up and spout at her, she would nod. And scribble. Nod and scribble.

They were unrelenting. Changing orders on the fly. Not three shrimp, four. And no fries. And no shrimp. Only fries. Amending as they went. Speaking out of turn. It was their first ever order, you see.

The air in the room was sticky and wreaked of fish. The line grew long and angry behind me. Grumbling began. And so did the sweating.

The line did not move for there was nowhere to go. My cashier was gone into the back, doing more important things than to serve the line, and the peckers next to me continued their pecking. Their cashier scribbled fire with her dulled number two pencil. The page in which she scratched was unintelligible. Wafting seafood stench balled itself into a fist and smacked me headlong. It was that damn fish. A clock on the wall had a drawing of a fat lobster on it, his clawed pincers pointing to the numbers which encircled him. The lobster was so happy there, his one arm shorter than the other. I knew he was happy from his smile. He was behind glass, after all, and couldn't hear the pecking.

A large buffalo of a man in the gaggle had a tough time choosing between this or that, you know the choices were many, so the tiny wasp chose for him. Clams, he said, get those, they're the ones to get. The buffalo hoofed loud and nodded. Yes yes sounds good yes yes.

My cashier finally returned in a flurry of shrimp cocktail tails and vinegar explosions. She licked her fingers as she did. She glanced to her right, upon the throng of hell being unleashed upon her fellow cashier. Then she looked at me and raised her eyebrows. My cue. The lobster clock smiled.

I ordered a piece of fish and three shrimp. All were to be fried and given to me in tiny white baskets. Was that all, she asked. Yes, please, yes, that's all.

The sun was setting now, over the ocean, past the road on the other side of this restaurant's patio upon which I basked. I was still going to see the sunset, the peckers couldn't take that away from me.

I spoke too soon. The gaggle plumped their pecking asses down at a table next to me. They were the embodiment of a flock of seagulls, not the band, but the creatures. Maybe the band, too, I don't know what those people looked like.

It was meant to be. I ate my shrimp and fish in silence as their chatter filled the sky.

The seafood was good. I wanted the clock.