The Cattery

By: K.A. Merikan

Chapter 1

Goran’s nerves were on edge. If he’d have to repeat one more time that yes, mayonnaise does contain eggs, he would fucking self-combust.

“I’m telling you, E-G-G-S. I’m allergic to E-G-G-S, not mayonnaise,” said the customer, furrowing his brows and staring at Goran as if it were he who was the idiot here. “Do you even understand English?” he hissed in the end.

Goran had a strong Croatian accent, but that didn’t make his vocabulary any smaller. “Are you brain dead?” he asked so loudly that the table next to them went quiet. “What do you think mayonnaise is made of? Oil and eggs. If you’re allergic to eggs, like you told me, so that all the dishes you ate today had to be modified for you and all the utensils needed to be practically disinfected, then I’m not bringing you mayonnaise, or you’re going to choke and die in our restaurant.”

The man squinted his beady blue eyes. “I don’t care what it’s made of. I like it, and I want it.”

Goran sneered at him. “Well, you’re not getting it, because this means you lied about the egg allergy in the first place.”

The customer’s eyes went wide, and he banged his fist on the table. “This is an outrage! Maybe this is how you do customer service wherever you’re from, but here in America, the customer is right, no matter what you think! Just shut up and do what you’re told.”

Goran’s skin was so hot with fury that he was about to grab the fork from the table and stab the fucker with it. “In my country, people know what mayonnaise is made of,” he hissed.

“Someone’s not getting a tip today.” The man sneered at him.

“In my country, people actually get their minimum wage, not work for tips!”

The customer leaned back in his chair and raised his eyebrows with an ugly smirk. “I’d like to speak to the manager.”

Goran scowled and was about to turn around and get Felicia to talk some sense into this lying hog when a slim hand closed on his shoulder, and he immediately recognized the large ring on her finger. Professional as always, Felicia wore a dark blue suit and tasteful jewelry, but he frowned when her whole face twisted into a grimace of sadness, and she all but bowed toward the customer.

“I am so terribly sorry about this. He just started working here and didn’t yet have the chance to properly learn the work ethics we believe in at Carlito’s,” she said in a high-pitched voice. She pushed at Goran’s back, as if suggesting he should fall down to his knees and kiss the feet of the man who inconvenienced everyone in the kitchen to make sure his damn salad didn’t contain a product he just didn’t like. Not to mention that his condescending attitude was not only rude but actually hurtful.

The man pouted, eating up the apology as if it was dessert time already. “You shouldn’t let people like him work here before he’s taught manners. I don’t think I should be paying for this meal after the way I’ve been treated.”

Goran’s eyes went wide, and he looked from the asshole to Felicia. “Are you shitting me? He’s been insulting me from the moment I started serving him.”

Felicia’s hand clenched tight on his shoulder. “He is our customer, and your job is to serve him.”

“I really wouldn't feel comfortable if I saw him here again, nor would any of my friends who frequent this restaurant,” said the customer dryly, adjusting the silly cotton scarf he probably thought made him look twenty and hip instead of forty and trying too hard.

Felicia straightened. “I am very sorry about this. You are absolutely right about the meal. It’s on the house.”

Goran took a deep breath, but it didn’t calm him down one bit. “He gets to insult me? Shouldn’t my manager have my back? You know what? Fuck this and this dick with a brain deficit who doesn’t know mayonnaise contains eggs.” He pulled off the polo shirt uniform with the company logo, and the customers at another table started howling and whistling as if that was exactly the kind of entertainment they’d been waiting for. “I quit!”

Felicia’s mouth turned into a pale line. “Very well. Take all your things and leave. And stop stripping in the middle of my restaurant.”

Goran spread his arms. “Fine!”

“You can strip at my place, babe!” yelled a girl from another table, and her friends laughed, watching Goran cheerfully.

“I bet it would pay more than the two dollars and thirteen cents an hour I get here.” He turned around, not waiting for an answer, and headed to the back of the restaurant with his shoulders tense and his body still in shock over what happened.

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