At the Diner

Charles sneakers ground against the wet pavement along Fifth Street. Lines of cars moved in stop-go patterns, even this late at night. The torrential downpour of the afternoon and early evening had finally lessened to intermittent light showers, and Charles trudge along the block to the diner with the hood of his yellow poncho up to ward off the rain. He never carried an umbrella, even when the forecast called for rain. He didn’t even relent to his wife’s insistence that he should use an umbrella after the time that half the contents of his messenger bag had been ruined when he had walked home in the middle of a rainstorm. He had a brief pang of guilt at the navy blue umbrella sitting in the stand by the door at their apartment. She had bought it for him and he always left it there.

At the thought of the arguments about his lack of an umbrella and the ruined paperwork that had spurred them on, Charles brushed his hand against the slight bulge that pressed out from his messenger bag. Absentmindedly he made sure it was safe. The canvas material of the bag hadn’t absorbed much of the rain, and he only had another block to go until he got to the diner on the corner of Third Street. The glass would protect it anyway. He didn’t need the umbrella for this light of a sprinkling he reassured himself.

He was thankful for the rain, like most of the people in the city. It had broken a long standing heatwave that had served as a reminder to everyone that Spring was officially ending and summer had begun. He entered the diner, and as the door swung shut the sounds of tires on pavement, car horns, and the occasional car alarm faded into the muted sounds of the diner at night- Silverware on plates, quiet conversation, bacon sizzling.

Charles gently set down his messenger bag and shrugged out of the poncho that had accumulated a web of water on it. He hung it up with the other patrons wet coats and jackets and, after picking up his messenger bag, made his way to his and his wife’s normal spot. A little booth in the corner.

This was the booth that they’d sat in for their first dinner after they’d moved into their apartment together. It was also where they’d had a late night meal after their wedding. They hadn’t been able to go on a honeymoon. Money had been too tight. But after they’d managed to get away from the reception, their cab had dropped them off outside the diner; starving, they had both polished off an entire stack of pancakes along with bacon, eggs and hashbrowns. Even after all the times they’d sat in this little booth, those two memories still stood out. The way Earlene looked sitting across from him in the booth always brought Charles a smile.

The waitress came over to take his drink order while he looked over the menu. He ordered two cups of coffee. One for him and one for Earlene. When they’d both been placed, he ordered a short stack of pancakes with a side of bacon. He blamed the memory of their wedding night dinner. As his waitress left the table to put in his order to the line cook, Charles opened up his messenger bag. He pulled out the framed photo of Earlene and set it on the table across from him.

“Here’s to another year, sweetheart. Happy Anniversary.”


Apropos of: This Prompt

-Crouse

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