There will likely be five installments as I wanted to pace it a bit better. I hope you are enjoying this little story so far!
Part 3 – The Power of Suggestion
Lisa watched the woman leave and picked up the bill fold from the table. She’d liked the woman’s gentle nature and wry sense of humour. Walking to the cash register she opened the tab and took the cash out. She looked at the napkin and opened it briefly.
Smiling she tucked it into her leather case that held her tips.
“I will read you later.” Completing the transaction it was back to work. It had been very busy and showed no signs of slowing down. Lisa didn’t mind. With all the courses she had lined up for the New Year every little bit helped.
At 23 years of age she had big plans and even bigger dreams.
Her shift should have ended at 8:00 PM but Elsie wasn’t feeling all that good so Lisa agreed to cover the rest of her shift.
At 10:00 PM Lisa finished up for the night. She ordered a burger and John poured her a beer.
They chatted while she cashed out her tips. She smiled when she saw the napkin and set it aside.
“When are you leaving for Halifax, John?” she asked.
“I’ve got my flight booked for the 21st of December at 8:00 AM. But I gotta tell you, I hate flying at this time of year.”
“Yeah, never fun with all the delays and stopovers, is it?”
“You’re not going home this year?”
“Nah. Can’t afford it. I’ve got all my classes lined up for next year and have most of them paid off. I’m just going to get as many hours as I can over the holidays. My mom’s bummed about it, but hey, I’ll shoot for a summer sojourn.”
“Traveling during the holidays sucks to boot.” John reiterated once more. “The things we do for the folks…”
Lisa laughed. “How are you’re studies coming along?”
John had been in law school but was finding that he really didn’t like it all that much.
“I’m gonna get together with a career counselor in January. Think I’m going to change my major, but to what I’m not sure. As it is, I’ll be in debt up to my asshole for the remainder of my days. I don’t know how you manage to pay for everything, Lisa.” He commented shaking his head.
Lisa smiled and let go an exaggerated sigh. “I don’t have a life, remember?”
“Right!” John grinned and took her cash and counted it.
“Damn, you did good girl!”
He took the required 30% that was divided among the bartenders, hosts and kitchen staff and Lisa still had over $200 to take home. He gave her the cash back in $50’s and $20’s. Then he reached for the napkin that was off to the side.
“No. Don’t touch that just yet. A woman was in earlier. She wrote something in it and I plan to read it now.” Lisa informed him.
John laughed. “Probably a love letter.” He teased.
She scowled at him, “Fuck you.!”
John laughed harder. “Well, I’ll leave you to it then.”
A moment later the burger was in front of her. Lisa took a long sip of her beer then she opened the napkin and she began to read.
The burger was held suspended as Lisa stared at the napkin. Suddenly her eyes began to fill with tears. She put the burger down then reached for another napkin. John walked over having seen the shift in mood.
“Lisa? Is everything okay?” he inquired.
She nodded. “Yes. It’s just really beautiful what the woman wrote.”
John raised his brows in a rather dubious manner. Must be a girl thing he decided.
“Here, I’ll read it to you.”
“Give me a half sec. Finish your burger and I’ll finish up with the two at the end. Be right back.”
Lisa took the opportunity to eat the burger and she read the napkin through once more. The place was almost empty now and they closed in another half hour or so.
Lisa cleaned off the area wanting to make sure the napkin didn’t get wet or stained.
She sipped her beer and a few moments later John walked back over.
“Okay. I’m listening.”
Lisa picked up the napkin and began to read.
‘A simple Christmas napkin,
This is all I am,
Designed to look festive and pretty to grace a table fair,
I’ll take the stain from your face,
Sticky fingers will come clean,
You’ll dab spilled wine from the table top,
Then toss me in the waste.
But what if I told you, I had a dream?
A Christmas wish so grand!
No other napkin will shine a bright as me across this great land!
Slip me in a plastic sleeve,
Take my picture if you like,
Make me a star like the ones in the heavens,
If only for one night.
Then lay me to waste as I surely I must go,
But before you do one last thing,
Take one more Christmas napkin,
And on the inside fold,
Write at least one word, if you will,
Of what Christmas means to you,
Then pass it forward with instructions at the ready,
Why we could fill a wall!
And before I depart just one last thing,
Peace to you and Merry Christmas to all!’
John just stood there. He wasn’t an emotional kind of guy but like Lisa there was something inherently beautiful in this little poem. Before speaking he made certain that the emotion in the moment had passed. An idea popped in his head.
“I’ll be right back.”
He came back a moment later with a big Ziploc bag from the kitchen. “Here.” He handed it to Lisa.
“Don’t you just love this?” Lisa asked as she slipped the napkin into the bag.
“I do actually and I’m surprised.” He leaned against the bar. “So what big plans do you have for that little napkin there?”
Lisa sat back and looked at the bag. “Can I get another?” she asked holding up her beer glass.
John smiled and went over to the taps and poured her another. When he came back Lisa was smiling rather mischievously.
“Okay. Spill.” He instructed.
“We could use this with the customers. I can take a picture and Photoshop it. We can put this little guy on top of the tree. I’ll make a few banners and we could ask our customers to write down a word or two.”
John looked at her rather contemplatively. “We would have to watch the wording. Might have to adjust it to ‘What do the holidays mean to you?’” he began, “And we could make up little flyers asking patrons if they would like to participate and if so to ask their server…”
The two were now deep in thought. John brightened “Hey! We have those cork boards downstairs!” We could bring them up and put them in various parts of the restaurant so people can post their napkin.”
Lisa grinned. “I love it! Is Dennis around tomorrow?”
“Yup, I think so. I’ll leave him a message. What time is your shift tomorrow?”
“I’m in at 2:00 PM again but I can come down early. I’ll have the banner and flyer laid out.” Lisa replied.
“Cool. What do you think we should call this little venture?” John offered.
“Hmmm. Let’s sleep on it.”
Lisa finished up her drink then headed home. This was going to be so cool.