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Thursday, May 29, 2003

A brief moment of fiction

"You usually don't sit and eat."

The waitress was the kind who had a story all her own, but she wouldn't tell it while standing at the counter. The three old men watching the Braves get shelled on the old TV would complain. They might have heard the story before. I had not. Nor would I.

"I'm usually supposed to be somewhere." I was slowly poking at a pile green beans that had been cooked down to slightly less that a ham-flavored dark green mass. I loved them that way. That was how Grandma cooked them.

"Not tonight?" she asked, pouring another cup of coffee for the last guy at the counter. He was in the middle of a long diatribe about endorsement contracts and those damned Cubans. I gathered he wasn't talking about cigars.

"Not tonight." I didn't feel like offering much more. If she cared, and I caught a look in her eye that indicated she just might, she probably didn't want to hear the whole story anyway. She wouldn't believe it at any rate.

"It's the Dominicans you're talking about." Old guy number two was snuffing out his third cigarette since I sat down. The sun setting through the plate glass windows caught the smoke and made the old guy look a little like he belonged in Hollywood.

My truck--the new red one that sat out near the road--probably hadn't cooled off yet, but I was ready to get on the road again. Even the diner on the edge of town wasn't quite far enough away.

"New truck out there." The waitress was on her elbows a couple of feet down from my near-finished plate.

"Don't ask if it's got a Hemi. It doesn't." I was trying to be funny, but I don't think she got it. Old "Cuban" Guy looked over his shoulder in the direction of the truck, but didn't say anything.

In six or seven bites I would be on my way out to the truck, having neglected to ask the waitress if she wanted to ride shotgun, having neglected to explain the true downfall of American sport to the old guys, and having forgotten to tell anybody I knew in the whole damned town that I was never coming back.

I ate slowly before tipping the woman enough to thank her for sending me on my way.

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