Saturday, September 14, 2013
Dear Jon - Chapter # 7
Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey. I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-two years, my daughter who is seventeen, a herd of dairy goats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, two dogs, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info and links about me and my work, check out the Bio tab up above.
Being a fan of music – and many other things - from the 40`s - I thought it would be keen to include the links to the songs mentioned in this story. Here`s the hauntingly beautiful Flamingo from Duke Ellington. Feel free to play them as you read for atmosphere or wait until you’re done.
Guess I should have realized the only thing open between Betty`s bungalow and Hannity Hills proper would be The Blue Hen Cafe, one of those mom and pop diners that had changed hands during the depression. Sitting in the parking lot, the back of my neck moist from the steady drip from the leaky cloth roof, I recalled my father telling me that there would be no more trips to ‘Henny Penny’ as my sister and I called it. Guess my sire was too good to eat food prepared by colored hands. We had never stopped in after that Negro cook had been hired, no matter how we might have begged.
I parked beside a dark blue Ford pickup. The rain was coming down so hard the diner was lost in the deluge. Andrew got up onto his knees. His hair was a mess. I didn`t have a comb and I didn`t think the kid would let me tidy it for him.
“Momma buyed me soda here,” he said. My sight returned to the restaurant. I didn`t know what to say.
“I wonder if they still make good meatloaf,” I went with, the memory vividly resting on my tongue. My stomach rumbled. Andrew looked down at my gut in admiration.
“That was loud,” he said. I smiled.
“Yep, guess I`m hungry too. Want to make another run for it?” I inquired, placing my wet, goose-pinched hat on his head to hide his hair. He nodded just as I knew he would. Taking his sweaty hand in mine, I threw open my car door. It smacked the blue Ford beside me. I grimaced at the sound then threw the door shut and ran, dragging a kid in my wake. Andrew managed to hit a few mud puddles as we ran.
Stepping inside, I was greeted by so many smells, sounds, and aromas it was nearly overwhelming. The diner was laid out real sharp. Someone had done some renovations recently. The counter was brand new by the looks, dark blue with white flecks. The table tops matched the counter. Booths were lined up by the front wall. Short blue curtains hung on the windows.
“Where do you want to sit?” I asked taking note of the one man at the counter as we peeled off our soaking wet jackets. Andrew dashed to the counter. The smell of fried foods made me salivate. A radio was playing Flamingo, an oldie from Duke Ellington back in the kitchen. Andrew climbed up onto a round stool. No sooner had his ass hit the padded seat and he started spinning around in circles. The man at the counter glanced up from his newspaper at the kid whirling like a top beside him.
I was struck by his looks right off: black hair shot through with silver worn short, eyes as grey as the skies overhead, hint of dark stubble, straight nose, killer jaw, thick neck, broad shoulders covered in a blue and white plaid shirt tucked into dark grey slacks. Just the type I would run after if this wasn`t Hannity Hills. Shit, I could even see the tuft of dark chest hair escaping from where it was left open to show the top of his white undershirt. Hairy men were all that and a Bit O` Honey for me. I placed my hand on Andrew`s leg as he careened past. The spinning stopped instantly. The boy made a snorting sound and tipped into the man trying to eat his pork chops.
“Sorry!” I gasped, lurching over to grab Andrew before he took a dizzy header onto the floor. The waitress exited the kitchen, a plump white woman in her mid-fifties with thick glasses and a kind smile.
“No problem,” he said, a smile playing on lips as full and plump as Betty Grable`s. His voice was rich and deep. I took my seat once again, smiled at the man and then at the waitress. My nephew was having trouble sitting upright, so I held onto the back of his shorts until his head stopped moving in circles. I gave the menu a fast glance.
“I`ll have the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy on both, a side of corn, and coffee. What do you want, Andy?” I glanced over at the boy. The man with the stormy eyes was now reading the paper again.
“A Coca-Cola!” he announced. I met the questioning look from the waitress in her neat blue uniform with a frilly white apron.
“Give him one of the meatloaf dinners too, and a slice of apple pie for both of us,” I said as I slid the paper menu back to the waitress. She got us our drinks and then disappeared back into the kitchen. Andrew was kicking the counter. I told him to stop. He sipped his Coca-Cola. He dribbled soda on his bare knees. He slid off the stool while I was stirring some sugar into my coffee. When I caught him racing to the front door and was seated again, the newspaper man to the left was chuckling at our show.
“He reminds me of my sister`s son,” he said, “Nothing but energy. Names Ross Coleman, I own a small shop in town.” He offered me his hand. I took it. His palm was rough, his grip firm and confident. We shook as I introduced myself and Andrew. “Are you from around here?”
“Something along those lines,” I mumbled into my amazingly good cup of Joe. Our meals came then, and any further discussion with Ross Coleman with the slate eyes came to an abrupt halt. I spent the next twenty minutes trying to get Andrew to eat more than four spoons of corn and a bite of superbly seasoned meatloaf. He was having none of it. All he wanted was Coca-Cola. Giving up, I let him suck down the bubbly brown treat. Ross had finished his meal, and with a ‘Pleasure to meet you and the boy’ tugged his shirt collar up, slid on a rather battered gray jacket, and laid fifty cents on the counter for his meal and the tip. Out he went into the rain, my eyes rather glued to his well-crafted rump.
Andrew grew petulant as he finished off his second Coca-Cola. His sudden rush of energy baffled me. I gave the waitress two dollars and told her to keep the change. Lord knows she deserved the hefty tip for putting up with the cranky kid for the past half hour. The rumble of the Ford pickup taking off filled the café. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never told Ross that I had dented his door.
Grabbing the whining monster like a football I raced out into the rain, our jackets hanging inside the café momentarily forgotten.
“Damn,” I grumbled as the Ford bounced back towards town. Andrew, the magpie, began saying ‘Damn’ over and over and over as the rain drenched us in no time flat. Guess there was nothing for it but to try to find the dapper man tomorrow when we went to town.
The waitress opened the door and handed our jackets out to us.
“Damn!” Andrew shouted at her in way of thanks.