The sun was unseasonably warm that day. It was early February but January’s snow was long gone. As Daniel ambled his way across the street he wondered if the ice on the lake was still thick enough for a pick-up game of hockey.
HONK! The Grand Cherokee’s tires screeched almost simultaneously as Chris yanked hard on Daniel’s collar, saving him from the oncoming vehicle. The driver was yelling unintelligibly, probably some choice words, but Daniel’s head had not quite cleared from the night before.
“What the the matter with you, dude?” Chris was as upset as the driver and Daniel registered this. He thought, what the matter with you, dude.
But “I don’t know” was all he could muster. He felt the sun’s rays sapping what little energy he had. “Let’s just get some food in us.”
The two men walked into a diner, greeted by the clanging of a bell. The restaurant was small and dingy but it would suit their needs. A couple of patrons turned their heads and watched the men make a bee-line for a booth in the back. Not a moment passed before they were scouring the scant menus for what would be the most bang for their bucks.
A rotund waitress materialized, as greasy as the pans on the fryer.
“Mornin'”, she said with Minnesotan drawl.
“Hi there!” Chris shot back. Why the hell is he so cheery today? My heeeeaaaddd….
“Your friend got a problem?”
Chris quizzically nudged Daniel.
“Don’t be rude.”
“I’ll have the egg-in-a-boat” He paused. “Thank you”.
The waitress shuffled off and Daniel was awake enough to notice how she lumbered more than walked. Chris, to his credit, had a dopey smile plastered on his face and the way his red hair was mussed, it made him look like a ventriloquist dummy. Daniel couldn’t take it anymore.
“Okay, man, what’s up? I know you matched me shot for shot so why are you a superman this morning?”
Chris giggled. “I did it.”
Daniel had no clue. In fact, he couldn’t remember a single damn thing from last night. It took a minute for Chris to read his mind and blurt out, “The blondes! Both of them at the same time!”
Daniel felt a sense of immature wonder welling up inside him as he smiled for the first time that day. He couldn’t help it. Chris had been dreaming of such a feat since they first met in their dorm room three years ago.
Daniel raised his cup of coffee in a stately salute and downed the hot liquid, feeling the last vestiges of alcohol evaporate from his system.
Suddenly the waitress returned, crashing their plates of food in front of them. The men’s attention was now solely on digging in but the waitress was patient and stood calmy until Daniel and Chris grew cognoscente of the tension.
“Thank you.” “Thanks a lot.”
“You’re welcome.” She seemed pleased. “You boys from here?”
The boys glanced at each other.
Chris sensed that this was his show and volunteered. “No ma’am, we’re from the University of West Virginia, here for a hockey tournament.”
“How wonderful!” She exclaimed.
The waitress still stood at attention, glowing. Daniel suddenly felt uncomfortable. Why is she looking at Chris that way? She’s like, old and nasty.
After another couple of questions the waitress hefted her enormous frame to the kitchen. Chris set upon his patty melt like a starved animal, getting grease all over his face and hands. He was still beaming from the night’s lustful conquest. He slurped a coke.
Daniel broke the news to him: “I think the waitress is in to you.”
Chris looked back at the kitchen. “It’s all good with me, I’m on a roll. Speaking of which.”
He reached over with a freckled hand and snatched up a roll of bread on Daniel’s plate, correctly calculating that Daniel was too exhausted to defend it. All Daniel could do was look at Chris in bewildered amazement.
Unbeknownst to the strapping young hockey players, the waitress stood back in the kitchen looking at them through the window. Silently, she gazed, the way a lion might look upon a herd of buffalo. Intent but patient. Clang! The door bell clamored and her fixed stare was broken. Pleasantly she greeted the newcomers but not once did she dare let the men in the back booth leave her sight.