Malaise Burger

Across the table, the green-eyed man would not stop fidgeting.

“Stop fidgeting,” she said, throwing him the same silver-hot glare that she was using to heat her plate.

“I’m not fidgeting,” the green-eyed man said, “I’m tying knots.”

But it was evident to her that he was doing much more than tying knots. Sure, he was tying knots, but he was doing much more. For example, he was fidgeting. He simply would not stop. He fidgeted with everything – the pieces of string that he had ordered in order to tie them into knots, the pieces of string that had already been tied up into knots, his hair, the pages of the Motorcycle Magazine he had so carefully chosen a few minutes ago from the motorcycle stand outside Malaise Burger. As if that much fidgeting wasn’t enough, he was now leaning across the table and fidgeting with her hair and her clothes. It was entirely inappropriate, she thought. And to think she thought she loved him.

“I said stop fidgeting, I’m trying to heat my plate,” she said again, and more sternly.
The green-eyed man withdrew his hands, sliding them back across the table, bruising his arms on the forks and knives strewn across the table. She liked to have a lot of forks and knives on the table for protection. They were not so much strewn as strategically arranged to protect her. Unfortunately apparently evidently they were not enough protection from the fidgety green-eyed man.

“You’ve got my hair in knots,” she said, with an air of consternation.

He didn’t reply. He was busy fidgeting with himself.

“What’s your name?” she asked, as she tried to take the knots out of her hair.
“Suraj,” the green-eyed man said, looking at her shiftily with his shifty eyes. He mustered some courage and asked, “What’s yours?”

The waitress arrived before she could reply.

“Can I take your order?” she asked, and spat a wad of chewing gum at Suraj’s face.
She (the woman with the silvery hot glare) already didn’t like this waitress. Her apron was covered in what seemed to be a carefully blended mix of blood, sweat, grime, and animal faeces. Besides, the waitress had just spat chewing gum at the man she thought was her newfound love, and that was not a very polite thing to do. The waitress had eyes of steel, like the ones they made in the factories, except they were all-natural.

“My name is Tanku,” she said to Suraj.

“That’s – that’s a lovely name,” Suraj said.

“Frankly, I hate it. You won’t believe how embarrassing it is to respond reflexively to people calling out to you with ‘you’re welcome'”

“I think it’s lovely.”

The waitress cleared her throat loudly and conspicuously, as if she were trying to draw attention to herself. Tanku could have killed her. What did this woman want with her new man?

“Are you going to order?”

“I – I’ll have the Malaise Burger,” Suraj stammered, his hands now fidgeting with each other.

“I’ll have the Malodorous Fries,” Tanku said, blistering under her breath.

“You mean the Marodolous Flies,” said the waitress, and grinned, revealing a row of yellow teeth, and a row of brown and black teeth below those, that smelled of rotting gums.

“Yes, that,” Tanku said, and in one swift motion, swept the forks and knives off the table in the direction of the waitress. The waitress, experienced as she was, dodged all of the knives, and all but one of the forks, which stuck in her neck and caused her to issue forth in a very masculine voice, “Is that all?”

Suraj nodded, and Tanku nodded, and the waitress left.

“So what do you do, Suraj?” Tanku asked her new prospective lover.

“I run a business,” he said. Now that the forks and knives were off the table, he was fidgeting with her again.

Tanku grappled with his hands, trying to keep them away. “That’s nice,” she said. “What kind of business? You run a chain of Xerox shops, don’t you? I just know it.”

“That’s what most people think, but – but I actually have a company called Suraj Knots.”

“Oh. So what kind of a company is that?” she asked, still trying to keep his hands off. She would be fine with such behaviour in private, and after they had gotten to know each other a little better.

“We tie knots for people who need knots, and untie them for people who need knots untied. You’ll be surprised how lucrative it is. We charge around 300 rupees for tying the smallest knot.”

Suddenly Tanku welled up with emotion. Her throat welled up with choking and her eyes welled up with tears. Her glass welled up with water, but that was because the waitress had returned and was filling the glass. Her heart welled up with love and her brain welled up with affection, while her ovaries welled up with lust.

All this time she had been pushing this man’s hands away, thinking they were just fidgeting. She ran her hands through her hair and felt the hundreds of knots he had made in them. She ran her hands through her clothes and felt the hundreds of knots he had made in them. Each knot worth at least 300 rupees! And he had done it for free.

“So sweet,” she told him. He was definitely marriage material now.A door flew open and a plate flew out of the door, landed on the table, slid across it, and almost fell off the table, but it didn’t.

“That’s your Malaise Burger,” the waitress said, still in a masculine voice, but when she looked at Tanku, there was the feminine throb of joint sisterhood and female understanding. The waitress could see Tanku may be falling in love with this green-eyed, fidgety man.


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