Quinn opened the car door for the woman, who then sat in the driver’s seat while her husband stumbled into the back seat. “Thanks,” muttered the woman. The man only gave Quinn a look of snotty disinterest before passing out.

They drove off, Quinn returned to his post behind the Valet stand. He pulled his vest tight and adjusted his hat. He loved his hat. None of the other valets wore hats, but he took pride in wearing it. Something about his hat gave him a sense of importance.

It also covered his baldness.

“Is it empty yet?” He turned to face the little voice of his daughter. Faye was twelve already. Twelve. Seemed like yesterday she’d been born.

“Is what empty?”

“The restaurant.”

“Not yet, sweetheart. Not yet. Did you want to go inside, get a drink? I’m sure they’ll let ya have some pop.”

She shook her head. Quinn was anxious to get her home, to bed, and was angry that her mother had dropped her off here without explanation. But what could he do?

Another patron exited the restaurant, young kid, and by young he was in his late-twenties trying to pass for forty. He was alone. The kid threw his ticket at Quinn, who had to scrape it off the ground. “Be right out, sir.”

Quinn handed off the ticket to the runner, turned back to his post.

“You too fat to get it yourself, old man?”

Quinn ignored him. The kid was drunk, nothing much you could say to stop the berating that would likely occur in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, Faye expedited that process.

“Don’t call him names!” She was standing, pointing at the kid.

He turned, looked at her, and just laughed. “Whatever, bitch.”

Then the fire lit under Quinn’s heart. He reached out, but held back the punch he was planning to land square on the kid’s jaw.

“Kid, can I talk to you for  a second?”

“Whatever old man, wasn’t gonna tip you anyway.”

Quinn lightly touched the kid on the arm, guided him a few feet away. He whispered, “Take a good long look in the mirror tonight, and think long and hard about the c*nt you’ve become.”

“‘Scuse me?” The kid gave him a look, half-drunk and suddenly sobering up.

“Talk to my daughter like that again and I’ll use your teeth to cut your throat in one quick movement. You might not feel it. But that’s a big maybe.”

“Christ.” The kid backed up, tripped over his own feet. Lucky for him, Quinn thought, that his car pulled up at that moment.

Quinn watched the kid leave. His daughter spoke up, “Daddy, what’d you say to that guy? He looked scared. Is there something scary happening?”

“I just told him he needed to watch out for the marinara sauce. You know how it is, sweetpea, makes your stomach all gooey.”

“Gooey and gummy.”

“That’s right, gooey and gummy. Can’t have everyone getting sick from this place, right?”

She nodded, smiling.

Quinn loved that they had little inside jokes. Made explaining things a whole lot easier, especially things he didn’t want to bother explaining at all.

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