V for Vacant

“Table for four, please,” the old man requested. The new waiter took him to the middle of the room, wondering whether the other three would soon arrive. He brought four menus to the table, then settled back behind the bar to polish the glasses. He frowned when no one came, but shrugged it away quickly. Customers were customers, he was not one to question them.

“We’d like two kids’ menus, the lasagne and the steak please,” the old man told him, after he beckoned the waiter over. “Oh, you wanted the salmon? Sorry, my dear,” he said, before turning back to the waiter. “Change the lasagne to salmon, please. I must have been dozing off while she decided,” he added to the waiter putting his hand so that only he would hear. Then he laughed loudly and happily looked at the chairs around him.

“But those seats are vacant…” he said, trailing off. The old man wasn’t even listening. “Of… of course,” he said quietly, slightly startled and hurried away quickly.

He approached the manager and pulled him aside.

“His family died in a car crash, all apart from him. It must have been twenty years, but it still haunts him. He comes here every week to order for the whole family.” The manager shook his head sadly.

© 2016

FFfAW, Week of 04-26-2016

Photo prompt provided by Graham, author of the blog grahamisjustmyname

v

Published by Felicia Heilgendorff

Novelist

32 thoughts on “V for Vacant

  1. I’m glad that someone explained the situation to the manager. If the old guy wants to come in and order for his whole family and it’s what gets him through it. Let him. Respect his grief. Either way, he’s paying for it all so does it matter if the seats are empty or full? Great take Felicia.

    1. Sorry, I must have missed your comment somehow!
      I agree, if that’s the only way he’ll get through his grief, no one should take that away from him. I wish everyone were that respectful, but I have a feeling there might be people against allowing him four dishes, where three of those will always land in the trash, no matter whether he pays or not.. Thank you once again for your kind words!

      1. You are right. People will see it as wasteful. Maybe, perhaps, they could find a way to donate that food that night. I don’t know how quite it would work but perhaps, they could do something instead of being wasteful.

      2. That would be a good idea – I hadn’t thought of that. Perhaps it could also be the staff’s dinner, if no one else wants it.

    1. Thank you! I hope staff would be so understanding in restaurants, but I suppose it just depends where you are…

  2. This was really sad. But at least the restaurant staff is understanding and as Mandi said, if he’s paying for it all then he should be allowed to stay. Great take!

    1. I agree – there’s no harm done if he pays it all, so why should he be denied it? Thanks 🙂

    1. Thank you – yes, this is madness that one could certainly relate to given the circumstances.

    1. Thank you. It’s a horrible fate for him to live all those years knowing that his family died and he survived.

      1. I vacillated between pity for him and the irritation I felt from the wait staff, as if they tired of his ritual…did I misinterpret?

      2. The new waiter did not know anything of the ritual, unlike the manager, but I’m not sure I would say he was tired of it… Perhaps he is slightly tired of it, but I think the sadness that he feels for the man overwhelms this, which is why he still allows him to come to his restaurant, even though the food probably all gets through away afterwards..

    1. Thank you for your lovely words. Grief is horrible and it can lead to very bizarre actions in some people.

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