C shuttles the boxy truck through the wide streets of Newport Beach. “Y’know, it’s whatever you want. We’ve got everything. Every possible cuisine. Chinese, Italian, Mexican, sushi, whatever. Really.”
B scratches his neck. “Man, I don’t remember the last time I had good Mexican. Man, if I can’t microwave it from frozen, I’m probably not eating it,” he grunts. Everyone laughs too loudly.
A smiles widely at me. “You like Newport Beach?”
An awkward beat while I think.
B says, “Yeah, it?s got everything around here, not just fast food. Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Italian? Korean? really, whatever you want.”
“Is there anything to do around here on the weekends?” I ask.
Another awkward beat. C says, “Well, Orange County?s really safe around here. Lot of nice malls and things. It?s not all strip malls, when you get into the Newport Beach area.”
“Yeah, you definitely want to live here,” says B. “Huntington Beach, Irvine, all good places.”
“Mexican,” says A, and we pile out of the truck and into a spiffy-looking Mexican restaurant.
“We?re always looking for a really good lunch,” says C. “Hard to depend on.
“Our luck changes, based on who?s in the kitchen,” says A. “Restaurants, like everything else… It?s all about who you know.”
“Yeah,” says B. “Sometimes we order in. Ordering in, usually, well, you know, it kinda sucks.” Everyone laughs too loudly.
“Do you guys eat at this place often?” I ask.
“No,” says A. “We take guests here.”
“And interviews,” says B. Everybody laughs too loudly.
A holds the door open, and we all step inside. As my eyes adjust to the light, I see a brown-haired tousled waitress bussing the tables. Odd, I thought, she looks like Heather Hemingway, but her hair color is wrong.
The waitress comes over to seat us. Her face lights up, and suddenly I realize who she is. I grab the waitress and swing her around, giving her a big kiss. A, B and C freeze, embarrassed.
“John Byrd!” Heather tells me. “You didn’t tell me you were coming to my restaurant!”
“I had no idea where you worked. But if you can get us a really nice lunch, these guys will probably offer me a job,” I told her.
“Your table is this way, sir,” she said, winking at me.