It had been a long night at work. Amongst the soccer moms, runaway dads, and 40,000 dollar-a-year millionaires who should have stayed at home and eaten a bologne sandwich, Alice could barely catch a breath. They had her running for an extra yellowtail sushi, grabbing another drink with less soda and more vodka, sending the salmon back to the chef because it was undercooked, or worse, overcooked, in which case they would have to cook a new one all over again. Why couldn’t Alice just sit down and take a rest amongst these diners and be waited upon herself?
The answer was simple: Alice was broke. She had been living hand-to-mouth since she moved to this God-forsaken town. She had worked for a not-for-profit organization extolling the virtues of global economic reform and cultural change. She had even been arrested once for standing outside a mall wearing a picture of Cheney with devil horns coming out of his shiny, lying head. The court case was dropped, of course, since the officer had nothing substantial to accuse her of. She was, afterall, merely expressing her constitutional rights in a public place.
“So… this is how I must struggle after years of sacrificing material goods for a noble cause,” Alice thought wistfully as she balanced seven bowls of miso soup on a tray.”I can do this.” And she was doing it. She had no furniture yet, but her apartment was paid for on time every month. She had to take out a loan to buy a car since she had accumulated no wealth as a political activist, and that payment was being paid on time every month as well. She didn’t feel sorry for herself for having to sleep on the floor, but instead mused over the idea that she was a Jewess going through a mourning period, since she had once read that when mourning the dead, the Jews sleep on the floor for a period of time. “It is better for my back, too” she thought.
It was amongst this clamor both without and within that he first laid eyes on her. She moved quickly but self-assuredly amongst the tables. Her brow was covered in sweat, and her eyebrows were raised towards the middle as if she were lifting them up to heaven in search of an idea, thinking of some problem that she sincerely wanted to solve with all the goodness that was within her. As she lowered her head to place the last bowl of miso soup on the table, her eyes looked up over the rim of her glasses, piercing, fearless, and searching. At that moment, in spite of all reason, he fell in love.
“Can I get you something to drink?” she asked in general of him and the couple he was with. She scribbled down orders in a quick, haphazard way, her mind already on the next table and the upcoming orders. He continued to stare at her and wonder out of which sky she had fallen. “Forget about it, Reza,” said Tommy, who had taken notice of his wandering eye, “you dirty old dog, you.”
“It takes one to know one,” Reza shot back. He was devising a plan.