Love Behind the Mask Part Four
By Trish Hubschman
“Tony says he’s going to ask me to marry him,” I told the other two waitresses. We were in the bathroom at Marco’s getting ready for our shifts. “Actually, he did this,” I went on, pressing my hands together at the palms. “That’s the sign for marry.” I giggled.
Rose, the oldest of the three of us, stared at me through narrowed eyes. “Okay, honey, so why aren’t you engaged?” She weaved her hand. “Why didn’t he just ask you to marry him, not say he planned to do it?”
I knew the answer to that, but I didn’t know if I could explain it. I pinched the mask on the bridge of my nose and pulled it away from my face. I closed my eyes and breathed in the air. It felt good! We can’t announce an engagement because of these,” I said. “Who wants to get married if they have to have restrictions on their wedding? We’d rather wait till it’s freer out there.” I added. Rose’s eyes widened. “In the interim, Tony is going to move into my house with me. This way we don’t lose any time.” I could see that she approved. “So, let’s just say we’re pre-engaged.”
“Or engaged to be engaged,” Lisa, our new young waitress, piped up
We all laughed.
“Hmmm,” Rose murmured. ‘It does sound quite appetizing.”
It did, I thought, and it was. Another thought hit me then and my eyes went downcast. I had to tell the ladies the whole story. ‘When we get married Tony wants me to quit my job here at Marco’s.”
“And that’s a problem?’ Rose fired at me. “You’re dead on your feet after your shift, girl. I can think of a lot more desirable things to do than wait tables.”
“True,” I agreed. “But I guess this place kind of grows on us,” I teased, but half meant it. “I’ve got you guys and Ben’s a friend of both mine and Tony’s, and he’s been so good to us, especially me. I can’t just up and quit my job.” I did the sign for ‘quit’ to emphasize my point. I put the first two fingers of my right hand into my funneled left hand and pulled them out.
Rose put her hands on her hips and glared at me. “You most certainly can leave Ben’s employ and Marco’s. If he was such a good friend, he would want you to do that,” she said.
My mouth hung open, though the girls couldn’t see it.
There was a knock on the bathroom door. “Ladies, get your butts in gear,” Ben called out. “You three holing out in the latrine is not good for business.”
Rose’s nose poked higher in the air, and she sniffed. Lisa giggled. I was quick to respond to Ben. “We’re just getting dressed for work,” I called back. “We’ll be out in a jiffy.”
“See that you are,” Ben said.
“Slavedriver!”!” Rose murmured, marching past me and swinging the door open. She waltzed past Ben. Lisa and I followed.
It was a few minutes before six. It had been a long, busy day and I was exhausted. Tony had come into the restaurant as he did every night and was sitting in his usual booth waiting for me to bring him his dinner. As I moved to his table, I felt excitement rise in me. I always felt that way with him.
“If you keep eating spaghetti and meatballs for dinner,” I said, my mask hanging off one ear. “You’re going to get fat.” I placed the plate on the table in front of him.
He smiled at me and picked up his fork. “Don’t let Ben hear you say that” he replied. “He’d say it’s bad for business.” Tony chuckled.
“That it is,” Ben said from behind me.
Startled, I pivoted on my heel. “Don’t do that! You scared me,” I said. “And you shouldn’t listen in on people’s conversations.”
Ben raised one shoulder. “Only way to know what’s going on,” he replied, scooting around me and sliding into the booth across from Tony. “I hear you’re planning to take my girl away from me,” he said to Tony.
“Yep,” Tony replied. “She’s overworked here, exhausted. This place, the long hours on her feet, is running her down.”
Ben waved his hand. “That’s garbage. Your tired after work too,” Ben said to Tony.
Tony nodded. “Tired, yes, but my feet aren’t swollen and red and I’m not close to tears.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What Tony said was all true, but the two of them were discussing me, my life, and neither was asking my opinion.
“Excuse me?” I said rather coldly. Neither man said anything. I repeated myself.
Ben glanced up. He glared at me. “Get back to work, Dana. That’s what I pay you for.”
My fury was about to boil over. My hands were so tightly clasped and pressed against my thighs, I thought I would put holes in my legs. I doubted I could respond clearly, so I swung away from the table and stalked off toward the kitchen. I pushed through the swinging door and stood there breathing heavily until I could calm down. Victor was staring at me. I attempted a smile and shrugged. He went back to his cooking.
dana was giving me the silent treatment. How does a deaf person know when he’s getting brushed off by his girlfriend? We were in a dark car and technically, there was no way for us to communicate, but I know she was ticked off at me. I could sense it. She was sitting pressed up against her door and her arms were crossed over her chest. I didn’t know the reason for her annoyance, but I’d find out when we got home.
“Can I come in?” I asked, making the sign for house. I steepled my fingers, then brought them apart to drawer a house in the air. It wasn’t necessary to do. I was nervous.
Dana swung around. She looked about ready to blast me, but instead, she burst into tears. Her index finger was jabbing at me. “You have no right to decide that I’m leaving my job.” She sniffed. “That’s my choice. If I want to stand on my feet for eight hours and wait tables, that’s up to me.”
She was sputtering as she spoke, and I had trouble understanding her. It took me a few seconds to comprehend, then my hands came up in surrender. “I agree with you,
dana. Okay, maybe Ben and I got carried away before.”
For a split-second, elation filled her eyes. I was sure she’d throw her arms around me. But her eyes went downcast again and she plopped onto the sofa. “What’s wrong now?” I asked, sitting down beside her. I reached out and took her hand.
She sighed. “I told the girls this morning that we’ll be getting married.” Dana waved her hand back and forth between us. “Lisa, the younger waitress, posed, what could be problems, because of your deafness.”
I flipped my hand at her to indicate that she was to continue. “Problems such as what?” I asked. “Let’s see if we can solve them.”
She sucked in her breath. “Well, what if we’re still wearing these masks?” She pointed to her face, which, of course, was bare of a mask at that moment. “How are you going to follow what the minister says?”
I had a comeback. “If we’re still wearing masks at our wedding, I won’t be able to kiss you.”
Dana laughed. It sounded nice. “What about dancing at our wedding? Will you and I be able to have the first dance together:”
I didn’t answer her verbally. Instead, I rose and went across the room to the stereo system, flipped through the CDs and chose, yes, perfect, the soundtrack to the movie Saturday Night Fever. I pushed it into the player. The Bee Gees song, Stayin’ Alive boomed out. I started disco dancing back to the sofa. Dana was laughing and clapping. I held out my hand. “May I have this dance?”
“I’d be delighted,” she said and took my hand.
We bounced around the room a bit, but I wanted to dance slow. I looked down at Dana. “Care to waltz?” I asked. She smiled up at me and nodded. We began swaying and whirling to the bouncy disco tune. We were laughing heartily. I won’t go into detail about what happened next suffice to say we had a lot of fun on the sofa, then upstairs in the bedroom.
No problem is impossible to overcome with a little ingenuity.
Trish Hubschman is the author of the Tracy Gayle mystery series. Tracy is a Long Island private detective. Her sidekick, Danny Tide, is the leader of the rock band, Tidal wave. Tracy is hired to find out who set fire to Danny’s tour bus. While doing this, more dangerous things develop.
Trish is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She is deafblind and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, author Kevin Hubschman, and their dog, henry.
Her website is www.dldbooks.com/Hubschman/
This story first appeared on DB-Touch of Everything on November 4, 2021.