Love and Murder in Checco's Diner

Checco’s Diner, Lower Manhattan, Houston St., Sunday, 1:10 a.m.

She comes in every night, usually ten minutes late, and makes her lame excuses to the diner’s owner about her kids or her husband.  She’ll miss on average one shift every two weeks.  It’ll be a Friday or a Monday without fail.  The owner’s a fat, unshaven slob in a greasy apron who grunts or nods when she’s done lying.  Sometimes he’ll risk a sharp remark to her that will have the eff-word in it.  She’ll snap right back, though, and I know he’d fire her in a heartbeat if he could get anyone else to work in his greasy spoon.She must be this year’s record holder with two months logged in at Checco’s Diner.  You say it like “Chico’s,” but he thinks the fancy spelling lends a touch of class to his dump.

If I sound like a regular, I am.  I’ve been coming here almost every night after eleven for weeks.  I’ve seen the waiters come and go—mostly slags—ten by now, for sure.  Checco is the only thing that stays the same.  The rest of the night owls that frequent the diner are a mixed bag of losers, freaks, tweakers, whores, and—well, let’s just say, one or two interesting people like me.  The night suits me best.  Once in a great while, some cops who’ve been cooping in an alley nearby or getting trim from the local whores will come by.  Checco talks to one of them regularly so I’m sure he’s a snitch.

Believe me, the food in this hash house is slop you can’t away, even for free to cops.  I watch him lean his fat arms over the counter to speak a few words like a big shot.  The drug dealers around here know this and stay away, but Checco lets a vice cop stake out the place for surveillance.  I’m guessing he gets a break from the health inspector. I had a damn sewer rat big as a housecat crawl over my foot one night.  Checco grunted, told the girl to chase it out the door with a broom.  Then the new girl comes in. She’s the new-hire for the graveyard shift, late as usual, lying out of both sides of her mouth about a baby with the croup. Said her husband had to do a double.

I snickered at that. The only double her hubby ever did is with her and another pig they picked up at a club or on a street corner. I know her type.

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