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|One Washington Diner (standard:romance, 10205 words)|
|Author: J. Nicklaus||Added: Feb 18 2008||Views/Reads: 1854/1126||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Sometimes good food and good company mean more than you think.|
One Washington Diner 2:30am; I couldn't sleep, what with the incessant muffled chatter of the television in the apartment next door, and a pillow that couldn't—and for the umpteenth night in a row wouldn't—support the weight of a filled mind. Not to mention the soft, staccato beep that never seemed to go away. I'd rolled, repeatedly, onto my left side, then my right, and back again, entwining the sheets around my calves and ankles. I had to get out, anywhere; the silent roar of darkness would thrust me headlong into some witless state of sleep-deprived insanity if I didn't. A quick splash of cool water upon my weary face, a rinse of the mouth, and next thing I knew I was standing in the diner parking lot, nary a soul around. Ironically it felt as if I'd slept on the way over. I couldn't remember any singular action I'd taken to make the trip from points A to B. The interior lights punched holes in the dead of night, and in the stillness I could hear the buzz of glowing neon from the sign above. I'd hoped there would be a slim chance of some distraction from the empty, laughing darkness that taunted me. Pinching the bridge of my nose between thumb and forefinger, I shuffled through the front door, greeted by the hostess/cashier/night manager who apparently was thriving on the not-so-delicate thrush of caffeine. Her uniform bore the hallmarks of traditional diner-dom: bobby sox, her skirt hemline right around knee level, and wide, flat lapels on her blouse. She looked me over for all of two seconds be-fore making her vocal appraisal. "Let me guess . . . can't sleep?" Her voice was disarming, welcoming, like a puppy that jumps in your lap. Managing a frustrated grin I hoarsely replied, "That obvious?" "Your eyes, your body language—yeah." I should have had some snappy retort, but my mental haze precluded any such response and subsequently I let slip my small window of opportunity for any suitable comeback. Instead, I yawned. "Jeez, my only customer and I'm already boring you," she blurted. I thought she smirked, but couldn't be certain in my unwillingly wakeful state. I glanced around the dining room and motioned from left to right. "Looks like you're swamped. Should I come back later?" Soft brown curls played upon her left shoulder as she turned her head slightly. "Early a.m. sarcasm—I like it. Sit where ever you like, I'm good at finding people in crowds." Even in my sleepless haze, I had to admit she was delightful. "If you don't mind I'll sit at the counter," I croaked. "I'll try not to be a bother." Her hair gently fluttered as she shook her head. "Works for me. Cop a squat and I'll be right with ya." Yes, delightful, in a common denominator kind of way. Having never exceeded the mathematical scope of algebra during my academic career that suited me just fine. The decor was predictably chromed most everywhere and included the almost requisite white tables with red vinyl booths. A solid string of red neon glowed from its hiding place close to the convex ceiling, broken only in the center of the room by the Elvis clock that swung its hips in time to each passing moment. A pie display sat two-thirds empty next to the cash register, and at the far end of the room I could see a ketchup bottle turned upside-down upon a red squeeze bottle, the round openings of each perfectly aligned against each other. "Want some coffee?" she suggested. "Since I'm having trouble sleeping, it's probably not the best idea . . ." She spun as if on cue, like she completely anticipated my remark. "We have this new stuff we put in this pot with the orange handle, called decaf. Amazing what they can do with a simple coffee bean, ya know?" Click here to read the rest of this story (1197 more lines)
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