K-Mart Special

Jeffrey had gone to prison for videotaping women in the changing rooms at K-Mart. At the time, he’d been a youth pastor at an evangelical church; his wife Tanja had sung in the worship group. But now he was a divorced parolee working as a host at Bob Evans.  

My fellow waiter Rodney called him our K-Mart Special. Rodney was also sure Jeffrey was gay, even though he’d been videotaping women. The only other gay person I knew was Lori, who worked in food prep. I watched to see if Lori and Jeffrey had a special connection. But whenever Lori was out front, she only wanted to stare at Katarina, the other hostess, who was from the Czech Republic.

One night I closed with Katarina. After she finished cleaning, she sat at the bar and smoked. She was waiting for her husband to pick her up.

“You see Jeffrey tonight?” she said. “He leave very fast. You see him?”

I did see him leave, I said. He seemed upset.

“Yes, there is a reason. I tell you the reason. Tonight, after we close, I go into women’s bathroom. I say Jeffrey, Jeffrey, because he is going to clean, and I have to use bathroom. But there is nothing. I look around and say, Jeffrey! But only silence. I think he is cleaning men’s bathroom. So I go into stall and sit down. I don’t want to be vulgar, but I just tell the facts. I am sitting down and it is feeling like, you know, strange, when someone is watching you. And I look up and it is Jeffrey. He is staring at me from above, from over the wall. I shout, Jeffrey, Jeffrey, leave now, but he does not leave. I say, Jeffrey, damn you, leave. And then he goes.“

"I finish and I go out and he says he is sorry, he doesn’t know I was there. He says he was checking stall to see if he can clean. He says this. To see why it was locked. I say, Jeffrey, shut up, please. I tell him, Jeffrey, my husband, he is a big man. He is a truck driver. He once killed a man who broke into our house in Czech Republic. If you do that again he will wait for you outside and beat you. Maybe he will let you live. Do you understand, Jeffrey? I tell him. He understands, he says." 

"Then I take him to handicap stall. I say, you will finish cleaning bathroom, but now let me see. He says, What is this? I say it is justice. I say, Take down pants, or I tell Matt and he lose job, and go to prison. So he takes down pants. I tell him, Look, you are not a man. I slap him in the face. I say, Why are you not a man, Jeffrey? My husband, he is a man. He is a truck driver. He will beat you. And I leave him. Jeffrey finish cleaning the bathroom. Then he leave quickly. Now I think there is no more trouble from K-Mart Special.”