Chuck glanced up at the waiter leaning over the table, his arm outstretched as he placed the glass of water down in front of him. He looked so familiar, but not exactly in that “I think we went to high school together” kind of way, but rather the “I’m 90% certain you’re Hitler” kind of way. Something about how his hair fell at an angle across his forehead, how he mumbled to himself in German, even how his face scrunched angrily as he spoke just screamed “I’m Hitler, but you probably shouldn’t know that.”
“Ist zere anysing else I can get you?” the waiter said, the small, rectangular tuft of hair above his lip shifting slightly as he spoke. Chuck hadn’t seen anyone wear that style of mustache since, well, Hitler. There was kind of a negative connotation with looking like Hitler, which unintentionally sent that particular facial hair the way of the dinosaurs. However, it seemed the waiter had not gotten that memo. Either that, or he was, in fact, Adolf Hitler.
“Um,” Chuck paused. “Yeah, I—uh—I’ll have the soup of the day.” He wanted the pot roast, but figured it would be better to play it safe, just in case it truly was Hitler taking his order. He was worried he’d somehow end up requesting the “Circumcision Touch-Up,” even though it wasn’t an option on the menu. Soup seemed the safest route, considering that Nazis loved soup. Seinfeld taught him that.
“Zat is a good choice,” the waiter said. He placed his right hand on his left shoulder and then saluted it out at a slightly upwards angle. “I vill get zat for you.”
“Thanks,” Chuck said, tilting his head slightly. He’d never had a waiter salute him before, nonetheless in such a particular manner. Furthermore, he was fairly confident that the traditional salute began at the forehead, not the shoulder. Had he seen that type of salute before? He couldn’t exactly recall, but it certainly didn’t help the waiter’s case on ruling out whether or not he was Hitler.
The waiter turned and began back toward the kitchen, his feet kicking out in front of him as he walked, arms straight down by his sides. He looked like Hitler, there was no denying it. He even walked like Hitler, Chuck knew that. It was a weird way to walk. Most other waiters tended to walk normally, with a bend in their knees and their arms casually waving by their sides. Yet it was 2015—freshly so—Hitler would have to be like 120 years old or something, and have fallen far enough to need a job at a shitty roadside diner. It didn’t exactly seem like the kind of career a somehow-living Adolf Hitler would obtain.
No more than three minutes passed before the waiter reemerged from the kitchen, a small, porcelain bowl resting in his upturned palm as he walked toward Chuck. God, he just looked so much like Hitler. What if he didn’t know? What if he just went about his day serving people, never understanding why everybody was a bit hesitant to tip him? Chuck wasn’t sure if he should just break the awkwardness and say, “hey, buddy, did you know you look like Adolf Hitler? You might want to consider shaving your head and beard. In fact, maybe just change your entire face, demeanor, posture, outfit, and accent.” Chuck didn’t want to be rude, however, and figured silence would probably be best.
The waiter stopped in front of the table and bent over, carefully placing the bowl down in front of Chuck. It was steaming hot, a warm mist floating off the green liquid and moistening Chuck’s forehead.
“Is this microwaved?” Chuck said, picking up the spoon and carefully swirling it around in the bowl. It looked like Campbell’s Split Pea Soup, rather than what Chuck had hoped a $5.50 bowl of soup would look like. He lifted the spoon and tipped it back into his mouth.
“Nein,” the waiter said, his eyebrows furrowing, “ve only use gas here.”
Chuck spit the soup back out, coughing heavily as he practically choked to death on a spoonful of liquid. It wasn’t that it was too hot, or too much, or anything of the sorts, it was the idea of an Adolf Hitler lookalike telling him that they used gas to cook his meal. The Nazis, and Adolf Hitler, didn’t exactly have the best track record when it came to using gas to cook things. The idea of just didn’t sit well with him, whether or not he was dealing with the real Hitler.
“Do you need assistance?” the waiter said, his posture still straight arms still at his side. “I knew ze heim-reich.” The waited paused. “Sorry, ze Heimlich.”
“N—no,” Chuck said, wiping off his lips. “I’m good. I am so good. That’s all for now.” Chuck had absolutely not misunderstood the waiter, he’d definitely just said “reich” there.
“Okay,” the waiter said, again saluting from his shoulder before turning. Chuck glanced at his nametag as he did so. He wasn’t quick enough to read it, but he was fairly confident it had said “Adolf Something-or-other.” He exhaled slowly and took another spoonful of the soup. It was honestly pretty good, easily some of the best he’d had in ages.
“God dammit Adolf,” shouted a deep, heavy voice from the kitchen, “the fucking oven is for food!”
“I’m sorry!” responded a muffled, thickly-accented voice. “I get so confused with zis new ideology.”
“You’re fired,” shouted the deep voice, followed by a high-pitched plea and the slamming of a door.
A man emerged from the kitchen, a stained white shirt covering his chest, with a long, beige apron stopping just before the floor. He was clearly the cook, or chef, or something of the sorts. Chuck waved him over, the man nodding and taking the few steps to his table.
“Yes?” the man said, his face red and voice thick with an “I don’t want to deal with your shit right now” tone.
“Can I ask you a question?” Chuck said, peering around his shoulder and looking for the waiter who had served him his soup. He was not in the room.
“Was that Hitler?” Chuck said. “You know, Adolf Hitler? The Jew-hating guy?”
“I don’t fucking have time for this,” the chef blurted out, throwing his hands in the air and turning around. He began back toward the kitchen.
“Wait,” Chuck shouted, “I just want to know the recipe for this soup! Do I have to use a gas oven?” He’d buy one if he had to, probably only use it once every few months to make a split pea soup, but god damn would it be worth it. He hadn’t tasted anything so thick and savory since his grandmother had passed. If there was one thing that Chuck could say about Hitler, it was that he had undersold the soup.