Friday, March 6, 2015

Six Days - Chapter One - Genesis Bereishit

As I sit here in front of this laptop computer preparing to write the story that had unfolded around me over the last week, I have a hard time knowing where to start. I never wanted to write a novel, or anything for that matter. I was a reluctant high school graduate, and I wasn’t exactly encouraged along to finish either. My English skills aren’t great and I think I learned more about the English language over that same week than I had all the years before them. No I had no initiative aside from taking care of my son, in this little rat-hole of a town about twenty minutes outside of Wichita, and not even placed prominently on any map. Many would say when you find Wichita you’re pretty lost, but Atkins Green, named after a yet another field of nothing out here in the Midwest means you are even more lost than Wichita.

This is why I never really cared much about my place in the world. I worked, I took care of my son, I got by, and as I start this tale at the beginning of my ordeal, I should say I was one of the few employed people in the town. Many would say that that was going to be a short lived state of my being since the town itself has a negative survivability rating. Even as I am typing this out I can’t believe how much more complicated my vocabulary is than it used to be but that is part of the jading process I underwent. It was a miracle that I had anything to do with the world, but little do any of you know that I had a big part to play in history. Most of you won’t believe it, but I am happy to explain it to you all the same, just so that I can put it all into perspective and go on with my own life.

I guess to be fair I should let you know who I am. My birth name is Anastasia Jones. Everyone calls me Stacy because only my father called me Anna. That was a short lived usage of my name since my father had died when I was very young. My name was given to me by my father because he thought it would have so many nicknames that I would never get bored with it. I did get bored with it around a year or so after my father died and my mother spent more time brooding over it, and the housewife life that she had hoped to maintain until she got rid of the sacrifice she made for it. That would be me, and because of what a rotten Christian she was, I was merely taken care of for the sake of keeping up appearances. My father originally wanted to name me Samantha after his favorite witch on ABC TV, but my already bitter about something or other, mother put a stop to that. In the end he sold her on Anastasia because at the very least it was the name of a Tsar’s daughter. I still think the fact that she was murdered by the Bolsheviks had more to do with why she accepted it. I won’t lie to you but I hate that woman.

It was a simple life really, my son and I weren't really going much of anyplace, but we got by, as I had said before. My work at the diner wasn't exactly fulfilling but it was mine, and it paid the bills that my loser of an ex husband never did. I was young and stupid when he left us, so despite the fact that he lived on the other side of this town, I have never been able to get him to pay child support on time or even in fair amounts. The only times he ever saw his son was when he had some new romantic interest that wanted children and then he could parade Jake around as the son he loves and wouldn't want to force to compete with some “other” child. I guess I see all men through the eyes of the one that I so foolishly gave my heart to back when I was 15 years old, but most reactions are quite rudimentary in nature. It was going on at least 2 years since he had even been near Jake when the explosion happened removing that burden from his little 14 year old life, and I would be a liar if I didn't say that I saw both sides of the issue with fascination. Needless to say that I have been a devout “man hater” for all of the last 14 years, and I never thought I would see any differently. So taking joy in watching my ex husband's death wasn't exactly a stretch.

The only thing that gets to me in this town is that I personally have never had any privacy. My ex-husband runs around doing whatever he wants, and the second I get seen with a man, or the rumors spread about some sort of impropriety, and it is front page news around here. Other than that prick, who knocked me up at the ripe old age of 15, I’d still be a virgin. I’ve kind of gotten the drift from all of my friends that have also been bedded by him, that I might have been better off remaining a virgin and pretending that sex was disgusting, just like he made me feel when we were together. Sorry about that I tend to go off on my rants now and again, but this is the first time I have ever sat down and written something important. I’m sure you all are just having a good laugh over it, but I need to get the background out there.

I can only imagine as this long tale of a very short amount of time, by your or anyone else’s standards, can only get better written or more descriptive as it goes on, but it is all so vividly burned in my mind that I get a little confused even as I try to put it all in order of when it all happened. This makes no sense to any of you I am sure and for my own part I hope that I can make it all sensible or more legible as I go. If not for you than for me as I had said before. The beginning is hard but it’s only because there were so many beginnings along the way. The one that I am pretty sure was the first beginning is still my favorite, but that wasn’t because it was so beautiful or anything, it was purely because it was less confusing, and more explainable in the fact that it had no real explanation. As the beginnings started rolling in they had far too many explanations and got worse on me with each telling.

I guess I should start there as I still remember seeing the explosion off on the horizon that wiped out the Skillings Factory that was pretty much all the employment in this pathetic town. Now you know exactly why I said I was one of the lucky few that had a job. It could have been much worse, when you consider that the 43 people that died, including that scumbag of a father, would have easily been 500 had it been a few hours later when the day crew started their shift. Where I had just been opening the diner it was in preparation for all of the day crew that were going to be getting fed before work, so we are still talking a good two hours yet before that parking lot would be full. I don't even know why I had turned around at that moment to see the gigantic mushroom a mile away, but I had, and here we are the next day and they still don't know what caused it. The fact that I do, is why I am sitting here putting my already poor typing skills to the task, because I haven't even had the courage to explain how I was left holding the bag in the end. Yes I have been left holding the bag a lot in my life, but this one is special in the sense that you really couldn't even rationally prove it if you had seen it like I had.

The theories on how this explosion happened ranged from gas leaks, to electrical malfunctions, but of course it all comes down to the fertilizer that they were making in there. We all know how that explodes when the flame touches it, but in this case there is still no proof of the flame that had touched it. Don't think that they didn't have every security measure in place to keep flame from the product, if only to protect the product. Even out here in Kansas those EPA folks, have their methods of watching everything that goes on, in a dangerous industry, so again where the fire came from is a very fascinating thing for those that investigate explosions. Myself on the other hand happen to look at things like this as being that which just happens, so I wasn't all that curious really, when the people started prophesying rumors. The buzz for the next day just around my diner was mind numbing but again, small towns make gossip the official sport, and this diner is after all the bar to which they all hang out and discuss things. I had other things to pay attention to. That happened into my diner the very next day, and those that know me will tell you it was very foreign territory for me. It was after all the last thing I ever would have focused my attention on, but then again it was the only thing that any women in direct sight of him could focus their attention on. The feeling of actually being “normal” for a change had escaped me at the time, and now that we are past all of that, nothing feels normal about it at all.

People had all piled into the diner the next day to “discuss” the happenings from the day prior, and try to make some sort of sense out of what had happened. Nothing like a bunch of high school drop outs trying to discuss science and place it all into perspective, to start your morning off right. I looked over the counter to Burton, the resident town “do nothing” who simply sits in here and stares at me all day, like I would assume a starving dog stares at meat, and realized that even a huge explosion doesn't change everything. I try not to refill his coffee too often because of my hopes that he will perhaps get up and leave sooner that often goes unfulfilled, but a girl has to dream doesn't she? Of course he's not the only one that does it around here, but you would assume that most men would simply stop looking at the woman that hasn't been on a date in 10 years despite her ability to be “hot” as her son pointed out after a PTA meeting. It was his way of explaining why his teacher couldn't stop hitting on me so bad that it made him uncomfortable. I haven't been back to PTA since then but I do have to go to work, so I don't appreciate this at all most of the time. I can shoot men down, because I hate them and that works out really well for me, but I really hate the ones that think that they complete me, or that I would be lucky to have them. Those men I shoot down with a certain level of verve, because I happen to also be a lot smarter than most of the men I meet, which also comes in handy.

This doesn’t jive well with the whole fact that I don’t know how to type. I was above average in the typing classes at school but fifteen years of not doing it, will of course rust anyone’s skills. The fact that every single one of the men I have met aren’t half as smart as I am also doesn’t jive very well considering that aside from the town drunks, the town losers, or should I say the REAL drunks and losers because I paint most of them here with that brush, I am the poorest of them all. Of course “poor” by Midwestern, out in the middle of nowhere standards is different than “poor” in the city or whatnot. I could get “services” if I wanted to, but that is beneath me, and if that makes you wonder than I worry about you. I figure I am allowed to hate men and be judgmental as long as I can prove that I don’t need any of them, or can elevate myself enough to judge fairly. Otherwise I am just white trash and then all I am doing is being petty and jealous. I envy nobody, because I can and have done it, and now I have done so much more it’s hard not to have a slight ego about it. Then again it’s harder to have a heaven may care attitude too.

I was in the middle of refilling the coffees of a few of the now unemployed guys who were sitting in the corner talking about where they were going to move, because that was ALL the jobs in this area, that had gone up in that amazing fireball the day before this moment. They were a few of the realistic ones because without the Skillings Plant there are no jobs here, and it didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that all of that insurance money they were going to receive, was going to build two new factories in some underdeveloped nations. I can appreciate people that don't take time to mourn, and strike the hot iron because time is not your friend right now. I haven't even bothered to talk about the death of Jake's father with him, and I'm pretty sure that he knows and doesn't want to talk about a man that he hasn't seen in two years. Dead or alive he wasn't anyone of any importance to him anyway. He doesn't have to be forced to mourn the death of a man, who wasn't in his life like most people would expect their children to, and that's the way I am going to leave it. These guys feel the same way about a job that isn't going to mourn the loss of their jobs, and that is why they have hope. The rest of the place was filled with those that are crying in their coffee over losing that place. That was when the door opened, and a rush of warmer than usual April air came flowing in, making everyone turn to look except the busy waitress of course.

As I look back writing this it was a strange transformation in me as I had gone from worrying about everyone else, because it’s human nature, to obsession with the days that came after this moment to take the time to mourn my own security. That factory doesn’t exist, this town doesn’t exist, this diner doesn’t exist, and everything I have known for thirty years ceases to exist. I should have spent a little more time feeling sorry for myself while I had the opportunity. I was going to desperately need the practice, but during all that self righteous, scratching to survive, and putting the feelings security and development of the only male I don’t hate above my own have not trained me for self pity. Perhaps that had a lot to do with the situation I was about to find myself in, and now that I am writing this it’s kind of funny in its own right.

I was preoccupied now with getting orders in and starting new coffee pots when I heard gasps coming from the ladies behind me. It was a very strange sound actually because there aren't any “girlie girls” around here, and that was a “girlie girl” series of gasps followed by giggling, and I swear that one of the gasps was from Mary, the “God Woman” as people call her behind her back. I probably should have never turned around to see the stranger as he was sidling himself up to the last seat on the counter. His hair was long and wavy, eyes deep opal blue, shoulders broad, chin strong, and I was unable to take my eyes away from him what so ever. I was completely locked into his stare as he was looking down the counter strait at me, and the coffee pot slipped from my hands and went crashing to the floor, but I still couldn't take my eyes away from his stare until he looked away. Completely startled by the removal of his eyes I looked down immediately to see the mess I had made at my own feet, to which I dropped to my knees to start cleaning up. A great deal of my quickness to get down behind the counter was actually from a terrified feeling of looking at that beautiful man again, since I didn’t like the feeling I had in my stomach after seeing him. It was a feeling that could be described as guilt, mixed with lust, and then the foreboding. I could still hear giggling and other noises that women make when they swoon, and I actually could feel an emotion that I had never felt before, even when my own husband was sleeping with every woman in the neighborhood, and that was jealousy.

I can’t even begin to stress to any of you, the feelings that were running through every vein and capillary in my body. That man at the end of the counter was irrationally beautiful, and by irrationally I meant not only was there no explanation for it, but he made me and every other woman in the place completely irrational. I was trembling because part of me knew that I would do something foolish again the second he held my gaze. The fear was as I said before irrational, and so was the desperate need to stand up and stare at him again. The jealousy that one of these other women would get his attention was pretty scary too. Well to be fair I should say that it is only pretty scary now as I look back at it. At the time it was all perfectly rational, but for the love of all that is good I couldn’t have told you why at the time. That beautiful man awaited me and I couldn’t put it off forever, even if all he awaited was a waitress in a diner. It could have made me cry if I had dwelt on it he was that amazing to look at.

I slowly stood up brushing the long blond hair that I was too lazy to get cut for about a decade from my face, and every move I am making at this point is thought out and calculated, as I am so afraid of what is to come of anything at this point, but I still had to do my job. I even made note to myself that I was disappointed that I had never had my hair taken care of before now. In a movie star sort of way I could pretend that my hair was “movie star tussled” but my mind could only tell me that I needed to get more beautiful really quickly or I could die from the loss of my opportunity. This job of mine also includes waiting on this man who is in total control of my emotions at the end of the counter, and it was sucking the life out of me. I was indeed able to look down the counter to see him sitting there with his face pointing down into a rather large and old looking book, and staying disenfranchised from everyone around him now. The women all staring at him and obviously swooning still was making me seethe and I was growing so amazingly uncomfortable at my own emotions, as I walk towards the end of the counter to simply try to talk to this man who I had never seen before today but feel like I had envisioned my whole life. I was within 3 feet of him at this point and he looked up to stare right into my eyes again, as my entire body was paralyzed by him, and I couldn't move my lips, which was a good thing because I wouldn't have been coherent, I am sure. His lips did move as he uttered the words “black coffee please,” and went straight back to his book.

Once released from his spell I looked down for a moment to at least try to figure out what he was reading and realistically, that was no help whatsoever as the text in the book wasn't even recognizable to me, like a strange form of Eastern language like Russian only more strange than that. I had actually seen Russian before and this was not it, but it was closer to that as my mind looked at it, then English. My mind was more focused on getting a cup of scalding black coffee in front of this man without causing injuries. I think it might have been a hopeless cause at that point but I had to all the same. The methodology of how I was going to do it was another story but I chose the “carrying of the cup” method as I would at least spill a lot less coffee, that dropping a whole pot again. I focused on the cup and made damn sure that I did not look up to see that face again, as I did manage to get the cup in front of him before he spoke again, “it's Aramaic, which happens to be a dead language, but it is very close to Afghan, so many people think that Jesus spoke Afghan, even though it was Aramaic, which is actually a fascinating language if you want to really study the bible,” and then trailed off as he grabbed the coffee cup scalding hot as it was, and took down a large gulp.

To think that another day could get as boring as every other day is not very hard to do, when you live in a little Podunk town in Kansas, so just seeing a man as fascinating as this could become front page news. My parents, my grandparents, and their grandparents all lived in this town that houses a little over three thousand people. The only thing I ever wanted was to get out of here, and see the world. All the people that accidentally found Atkins Green, usually opportunists, and snake oil salesmen, have run into me first, as I am the wait staff at the town’s only restaurant. A few of the smarmier men have tried something on me, and almost all of the women have looked at me and put me in the category of white trash. My own promiscuous ways ended my wanderlust very early, as my son was born when I was still fifteen, as I had said before. My daddy got out the old shotgun, and I married my prince charming, figuratively as my daddy was dead by this time in my life. The honeymoon lasted until about the time the baby was born, and the wonderful world of fatherhood, wasn’t in the cards for Mr. Right, so I simply had to endure.

It was a real kick in the head when Jack moved out of my bed after work one day and moved into the bed of one of my friends from school. Her pregnancy came as a shock to everyone but me. You could trace back the conception date to somewhere between my son’s conception date and his birth. I made a name for myself by a really good scene I made with her after she had miscarried, and a lot of the women around here secretly admire me, but they all publicly shun me. Small town life goes like that and I am sure a few of you reading this could see that happening. Jack had many more paternity tests over the years but nobody has ever been able to nail down his paternity and I have always wondered about that. Of course it means that I alone where the scarlet letter of Jack Richmond’s DNA combining with mine in a legal sense, so despite every woman that I went to school with sharing that bastard’s bed I get brought up whenever he does something creepy. Well I guess I should say did get brought up.

I have been gainfully employed here at this coffee shop since before my seventeenth birthday, and my aunt, dutifully took care of my wonderful son Jake until football practice started doing that for both of us. If I were a little smarter, I might have been in that university a couple of towns over, but I am pretty sure that it would have made child rearing a real chore. Not to say that I am the greatest mother ever, but I try, and that’s really all that counts. I have the instincts anyway, as I have sat at his games on the weekend wanting to kill some little jerk that hit him too hard. I can’t complain about Jake, since he has been the perfect little son, so I guess I am doing just fine really. I do sometimes wish that I had chosen a decent father for him, but when you’re young and dumb, you do things that are young and dumb, and I also subscribe to the theory that you never regret anything because it makes you who you are.

As I had said it’s not unusual around here, for someone to come through town and decide it is there job to tell the pretty waitress, that she should be a movie star. People in other parts of the country see that in cheesy movies, or television and think its all fairy tale, but I assure you it is not. I don’t know what is more sad, that this still happens, or the fact that I already know it isn’t really going to go beyond the back seat of their car, or perhaps the only motel in town. From the point that I am writing this right now, there are still many days to go before I am that jaded or worse yet, far beyond. A week can be a lot longer than week though and I need to remember that when I make it sound so easy and so relatively short of a time. The facts are still there that I every once in a while like to hold on to a dream or two, that I may be whisked away to far off places that nobody else from these parts will ever see. Sadly though, I am usually here every day, whiling away the time, with the “usual” which comprise nobody important really aside from your stray weirdo that this type of town always produces. This man could be the weirdest of them all but my mind at the time couldn’t decipher that from any other reality I have travelled between in the thirty years I have dealt with the daydreams of a waitress in a diner.

I am back standing in front of that beautiful man trying to think of anything I can other than that beautiful man, so I am looking around to all of the people in the restaurant praying that someone else will make eye contact with me. That’s a first realistically as I usually look around praying for the opposite. Now when I am in my time of need, I have nothing. Even the perverts that stare at my rear end every time I pass by them finally have things to do, and I didn’t think I would ever forgive them for that. How dare they simply use me and not reciprocate this to me in the least. I scanned the diner as quickly as I could before that amazingly, and quite unrealistically at the same time, beautiful man looked up to hold me in his gaze. You have Mary the church lady, as I prefer to call her because “God Woman” as everyone else does is a bit mean, perched over on her usual chair over in the corner there. She’s no help at the moment as she is staring at the new man, and sweating from what it looks like over here. I don’t think she has ever had her nose outside of a bible for more than twenty five minutes in her entire life, but this guy appears to be the cure for that ailment as she stares at him.

Over at the side of the counter is Burton, the town drunk or “do nothing” as I had said before and unfortunately in my case “pervert” as well. I wish he would find a way to tip me for every time he has touched my bottom, but he barely factors into this story at all, so I guess I will stop talking about him. He of all people should pretend to or really need something right now because every available moment of every day I have worked here he sure as hell has. The real character is over here, as we are now looking at the Sheriff of this town, Walter G. Miles III. You care to venture a guess as to who the two Sheriff’s before him were? I have often heard stories about what a great man his grandfather was, but they are so overshadowed by the stories of what a creep this Walter G. Miles is. We all have our crosses to bear, but this character really stands out, like a monument to the stupidity that this town is also known for. His deputy isn’t like the ones you hear about in the movies either, when you have a Sheriff as corrupt as ours is; this deputy is pretty bad too. His name is Jacob Granger, and I am pretty sure that he will never accept no for an answer, but he really should, that’s all he’s getting here.

The rest just come here to eat, and not to live vicariously through harassing the waitress. If they are women they are looking at the very thing I am avoiding. If they are men they are simply trying not to like me, while the stranger continues to hold his nose in that book and scan the lines with his finger as if he is searching for something. He sweeps a page now and then but his empty coffee cup getting rudely ignored finally gets to me, so I start walking over to him with the coffee pot in hand. I stare at his cup and do not look at him for a second. Now that I think about it, this irrational behavior is incredibly silly but these feelings were burned into me as I tried to just deal with this man and get the day over with. It will go smoother when he leaves; I remembered thinking while at the same time thinking it would make me sad. Really really sad.

I have never had to shy away from anyone, but this man is making me weak. I can’t let in to this girly girl crush crap that is simply beyond explanation, and with a new resolve I had just talked myself into, I kept walking towards his cup. I do make it to the end of the counter, and his totally un-phased expression, the whole time would have infuriated me, if I didn’t want to strip naked and begin demanding his attention. He doesn’t even wait for me to quiver the words out, as he breaks the ice with, “Thank you Anna, your timing is refreshing, and you make a wonderful hostess” and it didn’t shock me as much as it should have. I wanted to sit down at a table and start writing our names together a million times on a school notebook despite the fact that I didn’t know his name and took absolutely no note of the fact that he had no reason to know mine, but he did.

For some strange reason, as his words echoed into my head I could feel myself starting to regain the composure I had before I set my eyes on him. I did really notice now that he had no reason to know my name. I hadn’t noticed that he actually called me by a name that nobody calls me by, as I had always preferred to be called by the second part of my name Stacy. Hearing him say anything now had me ready to start skipping around the counter, and looking back on that I see the creepiness of it all but at the time, thinking was not an easy thing to do. It didn’t matter because I can say with a smile on my face now that I was more concerned with finding out his name so that I could of course start seeing how his name and mine looked together in that notebook after all. You all need to understand that I wasn’t even like that when I was a teenage girl so if I didn’t start laughing about that then I won’t now, and not just because I am embarrassed admitting this, but because I am still a little scared.

I hadn’t even really realized that despite the intoxication of him now, I was at least able to function when he looked at me, so I simply poured his cup and walked to the other end of the counter looking back with every other step to see if he was looking at me. I should have been making myself sick from all of the prepubescent fascination going on here. This entire scenario was like combining the purest of bliss, with the harshest of cruelties. To not be in control of the very feelings that permeates in my own body is as unfair a reality as anyone has ever faced in their life, and now it is mine. I don’t want to take my eyes away, I can think of anything else, and the littlest of scared voices in my head is telling me to just run in fear. It’s starting to make the most sense at this point, but I have to do my job, and I have to get this man out of my mind anyway I can.

My new resolve at this point wasn’t too terribly much better than my last two, but it did get a couple of more cups of coffee in front of him. Each one was drank as fast as the one before it despite how hot it was, and yes it is amazing the things you notice after the fact when you aren’t suffering from total infatuation. At the time I could have just stood there and nodded along with anyone who tried to convince me that two hundred degree coffee isn’t that bad when it goes down. Surely the trick was to just do it fast right? As he peered through the pages of his old book, I did find myself able to do a little reading over his shoulder, so to speak, for whatever good that did, as I couldn’t decipher the language or even half of the letters of the book he was reading. I didn’t dare to ask him at the time what it was, for I was barely making it through my shift now as it is, but he took it upon himself to point at a line and look up at me. “To be varied unto the creator is the simple set of rules that all creatures of any might must adhere to despite their own shortcomings or lack thereof,” which he then took a gulp of his coffee before he continued, “Everyone misses that part because of the translations,” which prompted him to stand up closing the large book, and walk directly over to Mary’s table where she was sitting alone, as she usually does.

Now of course this qualifies as very odd trust me. I think every small town has a woman like Mary. Born to be a spinster, not very attractive, pious, and lacking any sense of humor whatsoever. Needless to say when the most beautiful man you have ever seen, and by most beautiful I mean a far shade more attractive than any of the men on television who get paid to be attractive. Mary looked at him and actually blushed, well bless her little chunk of ice that she would call a heart; I was thinking to myself and only now realize was the stuff that makes a woman’s cattiness legend. Again, I find myself seething with jealousy as I see him lean over and speak to her. She stares blankly at the wall, and then manages to nod right before he sits down with her. I can only imagine that there would have been a lot of humor over the town “ice princess” being jealous of the town’s “ice queen” over a man that neither of them had seen before, but it was the reality of the time, and if anything I am honest.

My mind is so cloudy that when the gorgeous stranger puts his large book on the table in front of them, I do a double take back at the counter where I had sworn he had left the book, but obviously hadn’t, and at that moment I was finally ready to give up on all of my delusional drama that I was playing out in my own head and get back to dealing with the customers that are probably angry that I have been ignoring them. None of them seemed to be though as they all were just as fascinated by the new guy as I was, and had forgotten all about their food or coffee equally proficiently as I had forgotten about them. I startled quite a few as I was dropping off food or trying to refill all of the hardly touched coffees, and when I reached the table with Mary, and the stranger, I didn’t appear to startle them at all, as they both looked at me at the exact same moment and smiled. Yes that was as creepy as it sounds, and I hope I got that across to you all.

It took me a few seconds to clear my throat properly, and would have been embarrassing had I been paying attention to the real world at the time, but the words finally came out, “Can I get anything else for you two?” followed by an awkward silence, that gave me the opportunity to start wondering what I should do first, start ripping his clothing off, or ripping her eyes out. I had no shame at the moment either as Mary is old enough to me my mother’s older sister. The stranger smiled at me and then looked at Mary.

Mary is taking equally as long to clear her own throat as I had, and I did actually notice that at the time it was happening and I think it calmed down my need to kill her when the words came out, “No sweetie, I am thinking about leaving anyway, as much as I like looking at Lou here, and talking about the good book, I have to go to the Church and help out with the plans for family aid,” which did come out rather painfully from her, I could tell. Her own emotions even in my own weakened state appeared to be playing with her, and she seemed far more uncomfortable with them then I did, and I did start to feel great compassion for her, because she was far more out of her element then I was. She no soon ever wanted any man to pay her attention much less the most gorgeous man on the planet that every woman wishes was paying attention to them instead. Of course he wasn’t paying attention to them; he was paying attention to Mary.

“You’re a wonderful person Mary, let me get your breakfast for you today,” I said to her as a way to help get her out of there as quickly as I possibly could. Jealousy is an awkward shade on my pale skin but I wear it as well as I can under the circumstances. It actually appeared to help her get up from the table. Her much older legs seemed far weaker than mine, as she was simply trying to escape the allure of such amazing beauty that was standing up as well, seemingly out of old fashioned values that I haven’t seen in this place and rarely see on television anymore. I was still fighting off the jealousy that she had known the guys name before I had, and the inner struggle throughout this entire childish scene was maddening. No man has done this to me before, and it was fifty, fifty as to whether I was going to let this man, or I was owed because I never let a man do it to me before. Ok maybe at the time it was more thirty, seventy or even twenty, eighty, but that’s as far as I go with it.

“I’m going to pay for her breakfast this morning,” Lou stated as he grabbed Mary’s hand and shook it, staring into her eyes, “I appreciate your help, and am forever in your debt Mary,” he then added as he kissed her hand, which made Mary blush for a moment, and then her face went rather blank, as if all of a sudden she was completely over her infatuation with him. As a matter of looking back on all of this, it appeared to be almost loathing as she looked upon him at that moment, but she did make the gesture of a proper thank you before she made her way out of the place in a bit of a huff. The mini “scene” that the whole incident caused brought forth some sniggers from the counter where Burton was sitting, seemingly the only person who was not in some state of “different-ness” throughout the new visitor’s appearance. Nothing like the saturation of cheap liquor to keep someone out of a daydream, and into unreality but that was Burton for you. It was more apparent as I walked past him to get back behind the counter and he grabbed my rear end again, as he always does, and I didn’t slap him, like I always should have. It was just part of my miserable life, and even though I felt more worthless than ever because the man of my dreams witnessed it I went on with my job.

I grabbed some of the dishes that were left by a few of the unemployed who were fumbling through the trade papers to see where they were moving to. These were the lucky ones that rented and didn’t actual own large mortgages on houses that will never sell. I was calming down over my humiliation from another Burton attack on my self esteem, damn I could have killed him for that more that time than any other time before, and it was good to fall out of enchantment to the new guy through humiliation anyway. I filled the bus bucket with dishes and paper and started walking back around the counter with it. As I walked it all into the kitchen I could see through the corner of my eyes Lou’s book, closed and alone where he had been sitting. It was odd but I continued into the kitchen and then proceeded to place all the dishes into the dishwasher bin and the paper into the trash. I started hearing something that sounded like wailing coming from the dining area. It was heart wrenching and awful to have to endure.

I made it back to the door back out into the dining room, but as I looked through the “don’t hit me” window I could see most of the people that were still left in here heading for the door. Some of them I hadn’t even given a check to and many others hadn’t really even finished eating. All I could think to myself as I barged through the door was that I was finally going to kill that whining Burton once and for all for scaring all of the customers out of here with his idiocy. I barely got through the door when I saw the most pathetic thing I had ever seen. Burton’s entire face was muddy and wet from his own tears and the sounds coming from him were beyond pitiful. I had heard Jake wail like this when he was a lot younger and broke his arm playing football; this was just far more hopeless and weak.

“I’m sorry Stacy, I’ll never do anything like that again I swear,” came quivering out of Burton’s mouth. At second glance I saw a very different man than I have seen all of these years as he was sitting there white as a ghost and quivering with his hands around his coffee cup staring down looking like he was about to keel over. With that my heart nearly fell out of my chest as I had immediately gone over and put my hand on his shoulder. It was like an instinct or something that a mother with a 15 year old son would do, and the tears started falling from his cheeks harder than the day I had realized that my father had died. I was immediately wondering what in the name of God had done this to Burton, who I thought would never have a conscious moment of clarity in his life. This man was a drunk and a letch and I on many a day had wished he wouldn’t wake up, and here he was making me honestly believe that he was sorry and more over the fact that I wanted to forgive him, would have pissed me off as a dedicated man hater if it hadn’t been for the sincerity. I should have been angrier at him, and even as I look back on that moment I still feel sorry for Burton for the first and last time ever.

There was only one thing that could pull me out of the morass that Burton had dragged me into, and unfortunately it happened. I had looked four stools over to where that beautiful man had been sitting and he was gone. Burton’s tantrum and feelings of foreboding had taken my mind off of the prize that I like every other woman who had ever looked at him coveted and now I was feeling more alone than I ever had in my life. Part of me wondered if that had more to do with everyone leaving than Burton’s outburst. As silly as that sounds now to all of you, I cannot stress enough how much loss went through me in that instant as I felt like I was never going to see the most amazingly beautiful man again. It was painful and I had a hard time staying on my feet even. Sheer pride at the thought of Burton regardless of his present state seeing me down on my knees in anguish kept me glued to the spot, but I still wanted to cry.

Staring longingly at that door all day between tasks at hand is no way to get through your day, I realize this, but I couldn’t stop myself either. That man plagues me at this point in the story. The hour that he spent in my presence was too much to bear really, and I would be lying if I didn’t still to this day wish I could look at him. I would have been ashamed of myself had I actually been in control of myself, but I wasn’t then. Unfortunately I am now and it never really changes so I will just go on with the tale. The last thing I ever expected at this point of my life was to care about any guy much less start to obsess over one, so fortunately at this point of that day as closing time was nearing I was starting to snap out of it. I didn’t have to worry about all the other ladies that had been around star gazing when he was here because they all filed out of the joint as soon as he was gone. Jealousy was for the most part under control now as I had gotten over the pangs of some other townie getting her mitts into him. Realistically all I can do is call it pathetic and hope that it explains it all properly for now as I try to continue explaining it as I saw it and in the right order.

The clarity had started coming to me as I was cleaning up the diner that I hadn’t been cleaning up along the way as I always had before. This was a lot more work than I was used to at the end of the day and it was another reason to be ashamed of myself. My son should be out of football practice right now and is probably wondering why I hadn’t shown up to walk him home from it. Of course I don’t need to do that it is just habit, and here I am an hour away from getting into a usual habit, and it was all because of that man Lou. Of course seeing Burton like that earlier really did put a certain fear in me that I would hope to never have to see again in any living creature, and I guess I should be honest right now and say I haven’t seen Burton since that moment when he was sitting at that bar. Realistically I don’t want to know what happened to him. Your ability to absorb knowledge decreases a lot when you become jaded I know, but as I am cleaning the counter on that day I am still quite confused.

The winds outside were howling quite a bit and the warmth of the air had settled down quite unreasonably, considering the way they were just a few hours ago. It’s only 4pm at this time so you would usually assume that it would be warmer than it was at 9am when the door opened up to let that stranger in. That blast of hot air will never leave my mind, just like the beautiful man that rode in on it and the way he drank his coffee. It’s actually quite chilly now, was pretty much exactly what I was thinking, as the warmth from the dishwasher almost burned my skin. Of course the thoughts of my new favorite stranger were there as well, but the heat of the dishwasher more reminded me of hot air and hotter coffee. I’m the only person in the place now as Barney, the cook, went home about an hour ago, because it was my day to do the dishes, and I would have been done with those ten minutes ago rather than being on my way to do them as I finally finished up the counters. God there are a mountain of dishes today too, so I was all about getting on those as soon as I got my daydreaming under control.

The whistling wind outside had been steadily picking up for the last 20 minutes or so, but that’s normal around here. Kansas never was the nicest of weather this time of the year, and my mind did tell me to keep checking the window to make sure that a tornado wasn’t in the making across the horizon. We’ve had about 7 good ones around here in all the years I have been alive and most of them have done some really bad damage and the last one that rip a good portion of the roof off the Skillings Plant, and that was the first time we went through the turmoil of, “will they rebuild here” which in the end they did because it would have cost less to patch the roof. Rebuilding the place is not an option as the place is just a blackened pile of rubble now. That wind is starting to get rather ominous now as I am forced to deal with more chewing gum in a coffee cup. I swear I never could understand people that are that thoughtless when they don’t have to clean up after themselves. I feel like I married half of the bozos that come into this place every day, and now that I think of it I may have.

The only thing bothersome to me now, besides the wind, is the thought of having to walk home in it. Hair like mine and the wind are not good friends and my eyes really hate the idea, so as I am looking around the place for a rubber band or braided elastic or something. Yes I usually throw a bunch in my purse but end up going through them really fast, I was thinking very distinctly when I saw a piece of paper under one of the tables. Even though I could have sworn I had just cleaned over there, I went over to pick the thing up, because I don’t want to have to do more cleaning first thing in the morning. I was crabby about it obviously as I got down on my hands and knees to grab the piece of paper and hit the floor hard the second my hand touched it, terrified by the sound of glass exploding all around me.

My hands were clenched hard around my head as glass pieces were showering the floor and the only thing that saved me was being under the table between the booths, as it appeared to be the only place in the diner that was far enough away from the windows to keep the glass showering down on top of the table but not under it where I was. Trembling for what seemed like hours after I heard the last piece of glass hit the floor, it took everything in me to stop long enough to stand up, and look at all the glass everywhere. The tears were streaming down my face leaving little muddy streaks I am sure but there wasn’t a lick of glass in the diner for me to check it out, and of course I am still a woman I did look. Glass had torn into the vinyl on the booths, leaving every seat in the place completely useless for sitting on, and I really could use a place to sit and rest as my legs were still very weak under me. Shredded curtains were around every gaping hole that used to be the windows, and scratched through tables throughout the diner looked equally terrifying when I see the damage that imploding glass could do to wood. It would have made short order of me, I thought as I noticed that everything except me was pretty much destroyed and unsalvageable.

It’s a really humbling experience when you come to the self realization that you probably should be dead, and there was no evidence in the diner that I would have survived that blast of imploding glass. Looking everywhere around there wasn’t any evidence of a lot of things actually since it looked more like the place had gone through a sandstorm than anything else. Most of the glass had turned back to silica on the floor and gave a sandy, deserted look to the place. There was no evidence that the weather had been turning sour when I looked out the window, and as I look out the holes that used to be windows I can see, or more importantly “feel” any in climate weather within a hundred miles of here. More notably as I look back on it, there wasn’t that damp smell that foul weather always gives off when it is on the way, or the clean smell that usually remains after it is gone. There was no evidence that anything else had been damaged in the area, outside, no hail stones which is what you almost always find after an upswing if it wasn’t a tornado. There was no evidence that the place I had been standing would have been very safe, as the glass had completely smashed all of the coffee pots that were on the Bunn right behind where I had been. Then the scariest part of all of this came as I looked down to the spot I had been laying which was the only place that the glass wasn’t.

There was no evidence that there ever was a piece of paper there as I looked down in a double take. I was actually quite adamant to go right over there again and carefully get down on my knees and look around for it, and yes as I just said, that piece of paper was totally gone. I was as careful as I could be getting down there but still found myself pulling glass from my palms and brushing glass dust off my knees. Thank God for shock, since I felt no pain in my hands where a small amount of blood formed from placing my weight on the glass. My chest now started tightening up on me, as I am kind of feeling it do just reliving this, and I noticed that my breathing was getting rather erratic. Despite my heart hammering I was able to sense that it was getting even worse. My own innate panic reaction was starting to take over as if there was something else about to happen, equally terrifying thus meaning equally as dangerous. That was when I knew I better get outside because the next part of this was going to be bad and the “deer in the headlights” method of dealing with stress never helps the deer so I wouldn’t be in a better position myself.

Stumbling to my feet, and feeling more glass that I pressed my hands into as I clumsily stumbled up to get to the door, my heart starts pounding harder. It would have been crippling had I not been growing a survival instinct. I could feel cold sweat welling up all about my face, as I did finally make it to the door, and at the top of the two steps that lead into the diner I see that beautiful man, Lou standing across the street staring at the largest man I have ever seen. The two of them are locked in a conflicted death stare as they stand a mere 7 feet apart, neither of which daring to move a muscle for whatever reason, and I can distinctly remember wondering if either of them were breathing. I remember how still they were, and the expressions were totally lifeless. There was a shoot-out at the OK Corral appeal to the stare down. Both of the men had their hands down to their sides daring the other man to move first, so that the other could show off how fast they really are. The size of that man across from Lou was intimidating even from this distance, as he was so much larger than Lou, who is a rather large man himself. I couldn’t help but start to worry as the most beautiful man I have ever seen could so very easily be ripped limb from limb by this circus freak of humanity standing across from him.

I had already forgotten why I had come outside, despite the wrecked diner behind me. These things were furthest from my mind as I recognized with great horror that the only thing on this planet that would scare me more than being inside an imploding diner was about to happen to me at that time. The freak of nature that had been staring down Lou was now diverting his attention from Lou. Slowly at first but quite obviously as it was the only motion that was going on at the time. The slow speed to which the whole ordeal was taking on, only showed how much respect he seemed to give Lou across from him as he didn’t want a sudden motion to create something between them. I hadn’t a clue at the time what it was but I could tell at the time, and could even remember it despite what was about to happen. This was the exact time that what was going to happen next hit me like a bold of lightning. It coincided with the ending of the forever that it took for his head to turn and his eyes to meet up with mine. The blinding pain filled my head and I was unable to even see him at this point, because locking up my whole body could feel a coursing panic attack take me. The terrorizing blindness was all that I could comprehend and I don’t even remember hitting the ground because I was unconscious before I did it. Since I was standing at the top of the stairs at the time I can only imagine the damage that my body had endured when it fell down the stairs and to the ground, but again, I wasn’t exactly awake for it.

I was walking across a field lost in what a beautiful day it was. The sun was shining and I could hear the birds singing. I’d like to tell you about how the dream I was lost in was so realistic, and write in a way that would fool you into thinking that it was something other than a dream, but that would be dishonest. There was no way I would have been caught in my consciousness wearing a white dress and walking across a field of grass. On another note the dream does pertain to what was going on around me so allow me to fill you in on what I remember about it, but we’ll just remain friends and I won’t fool you into thinking it was a “reality clash” or anything like that. It was a very pretty day in the dream though, and the reality I had left before coming to the dream wasn’t as pretty. Technically speaking it wasn’t as logical either.

Like most dreams go I continued along the path in the field. I didn’t actually see a path but I was compelled to walk along it, as imaginary as it was. I was incapable of waking from the dream so I figured I should roll with it. Dreams are odd as you go through them. I have had enough time to examine my dreams since then and I have become an expert on them in all honesty. This is what happens when you can’t tell if you are dreaming or not. For example in that dream I can distinctly remember the feel of the breeze, and the warmth of the sun. I can’t tell you the smell in the air. I can remember hearing birds and seeing clouds. If I had picked up a dandelion and started chewing on it I couldn’t have told you the taste or how sick it probably would have made me. It’s a question of experience. That which I have experienced I can imagine, and that which I have not I either must be experiencing or had the experience of. I’m sure there are more than a few of you reading this right now and wondering why I am telling you all of this, and especially so early in the tale. The answer is simply because it won’t change a single thing in the whole story, and more over I want you to know that I know the difference between reality and a dream. It will get really cloudy from here.

When I finally spied out a bench off in the distance I could finally recognize it and my surroundings even though they had been altered quite a bit. That bench is the one that sits all alone outside of the large field next to the high school in town. Nobody ever sits on it when school isn’t in session, and it was basically just a place for the school board to sit when they assess the school every year. The principal has been known to sit on it from time to time when he is giving a tour to a visiting congress person. Aside from that this bench really isn’t close enough to anything to be useful, and hasn’t been used enough that it usually just collects birds. The fact that I am walking towards it, and the field that I am in is about three to four times larger than the actual field would have set me towards understanding I am in a dream if the stupid white dress hadn’t done it. The closer I get to it, I just can’t wait to sit down on it, and that would make it the first time I have ever sat on it in my life. The bench isn’t empty though.

Of course with Lou sitting on that bench it would stand to reason that I would want to sit on it. The white dress is still out of place but when Lou is involved any form of clothing on my body seems silly. Dream or no dream he is still such an amazingly beautiful man. He is perched off to the side, so as to let me sit down next to him. Most people sit on a two person bench in the middle to ward off people from invading their space, in case you never noticed that. The act of having to actually ask someone to move over so that you can sit down is just too much for most people and that is actually understandable. Men definitely won’t do it so that they don’t have to have the “gay” tag applied to them if it is a man or the “pervert” tag applied to them if it is a woman. Women won’t do it because men are perverts and women are bitches. He doesn’t even allow me that luxury of walking away because the bench is full. His arm is draped over the back of the bench as if he is going to put it around my shoulders the second I sit down and it’s kind of exciting thinking of that prospect.

Before I could even sit down Lou stood up in a gentlemanly way, and brushed off the bench. My stomach started doing flip flops as I was completely enthralled with his stately manner combined with his amazing good looks. I perched myself as lady like as I could so that I wouldn’t show the world my panties under the dress I was wearing. Come to think about it, this was even more awkward by the fact that I don’t think I have worn a dress in a couple of years and I had lost all sense of etiquette. He finally spoke up and I lost my breath as he did it, “You look quite beautiful Anna. Do you know why you are wearing a white dress?”

My mind went blank. What do you say to something like that anyway? I know I am in a dream, and since none of this is real do I simply make a joke of it and go on, or do I take this opportunity to make it one of those kinds of dreams and seduce him? I haven’t gotten to where I am in life by doing things the easy way, and I haven’t lived a life of dull un-reality either, so I figured I should just be honest with him. It isn’t easy when you have a committee in your head all giving their opinions though, and I could feel my headache picking up as I squeeked out the words, “I haven’t got a clue, it’s just a dream.”

Lou sat down while chuckling a lot more than I thought he should under the situation. There was a strange feeling that he really was there, while at the same time knowing he really wasn’t. Dream or no dream I wasn’t in charge of his reactions. This is how a dream works anyway. When I was a little girl I used to have nightmares until I started realizing that I could change the ax in the murderers hands into a dozen roses or a baby rattle. In this case I couldn’t even get Lou to stop laughing at me or better yet profess his undying love for me. When his laughter had calmed down he said, “Life is a dream Anna. You’re wearing a white dress for a reason, just like you dragged me into your dream for a reason,” he paused for a minute and licked his lips before he finished his thought albeit very vaguely, “it just would have been nice if you knew why.”

My splitting headache came to an agonizing pace when my eyes opened up, and I could see one of the town’s two doctors, looking down on me from where I was obviously laying on my back. It would be my luck that it was the one that I don’t use for myself or Jake, so he didn’t really know me all that well. My doctor would have instinctively known that I have panic attacks and a couple of times in my life they have laid me out. Of course I have never remembered dreaming through any of them as I tend to be out for no more than a minute if even that. Now this doctor isn’t a bad person. I’ve waited on him several times at the diner, it’s just that I have been seeing Dr. Welch my whole life, and we’ve only recently become a two doctor town. The nearest hospital is twenty minutes away if the ambulance uses the lights, and that’s basically the only way anyone from here gets there. We’ve only had our own ambulance at the volunteer fire department for about six or seven years. None of this seems to matter, but I can simply wander off, especially when reliving a time of confusion. He looked at me and said, “Well you had quite a startle, young lady, would you mind looking at this light for me please?” and he was holding the pen light that my own doctor would have been under the circumstances. The young lady part made me smile since I think he is the same age as I am.

 I’ve had two concussions from my panic attacks and that usually is the norm when you pass out and land on your head, but it beats the blind rage that Michael Jones used to go into when his panic disorder went into effect. Yes there was Stacy and Mike, the two weirdoes with the panic attacks in school, and that was about it. They often acted like we were the only two people who ever had a panic attack in that school, but I often joked that most of the people in that school were a result of alien abduction. It’s not so funny when you grow up with a mother that believed in it, but I still made light of it whenever I could. “Do you remember anything that happened while your panic disorder was hitting its stride, so that perhaps you can try to avoid these things happening to you in the future?” the doctor asked me breaking up the chaos that my mind had become. I looked back at him awe struck because despite my dreams and the headache I would assume that a destroyed diner behind me would be a small clue that I had something to panic about. I waved my hand behind me so that Dr. Sherlock Holmes here could get a full grasp of the situation, and I could simply lay here in peace. “Did you twist your ankle? I hear that can cause a panic situation?”

Part of me was thanking God that I didn’t have this doctor now, as I started trying to get myself up in an upright position. He gently tried to calm me down and keep me lying on the ground. The more I strained against him the more voices I could hear all around us. My mind was starting to panic again as I could just think of all the morons in this town getting a good gander at Stacy the yummy mummy laying around in the street in front of the destroyed diner. I even started thinking about the rumors that have probably already started to justify how I destroyed the diner. I managed to slip past his encouragement to remain in the ground and was about to start explaining to him how he isn’t the master of the obvious, when I saw why he wasn’t. My chest started tightening in on me as I saw the completely whole and unfazed diner that was standing behind me. I was fighting back another panic attack.

I didn’t exactly know what to tell the doctor since my delusions appeared too real, and aside from that nobody likes to go and start explaining their delusions to a doctor anyway. It seemed so real to me and more over I seemed to handle the delusion of the diner imploding just fine. My panic attack was from staring into the eyes no matter how momentarily of that hulk of a man that was staring down Lou, whoever he might be. I was processing everything that has happened to me and in an instant decided that none of it was smart to talk about so I did what any woman would do under the circumstances. I lied, “Um, no, I can’t seem to remember anything strange at the time,” which came out as clear as if it had been the truth. Single mother with derelict ex husband teaches you the art of lying like a used car dealer without all of the flash. I probably could have been the actress that a few of those passersby pretended they wanted me to be. “I was just rushing too hard to get out and I think I overexerted myself,” and looking back on it, I was so close to telling the truth that it must have been as easy as it seemed based on the facts I allowed to get out. Nobody is ever going to question my survival instincts.

The doctor wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about my feigned recovery but did manage to hear enough from me to convince him that I know how to deal with the after effects of a panic attack. I was desperately trying to hold onto the strange memories that I had rolling in and out of my consciousness too. The implosion, the stare down by Lou and God knows who that was, and the dream where Lou wanted me to understand the significance of the white dress. I could only imagine what my mind was like at the time because it seems like it was years ago. By the calendar it was only a week for the most part. I was carefully getting to my feet making damn sure that I didn’t get a rush of blood to my head and start the whole ordeal over again, and also make sure that doctor was at bay. It appeared to work as I brushed myself off, shot out enough dirty looks to send the rest of the crowd away, and walked up the stairs into the deserted diner, where the clock stated it was four twenty, and I had only lost twenty minutes of my life from the time I saw the piece of paper on the floor and the time I had walked back in.

I made an effort to make sure that piece of paper wasn’t still on the floor as I walked past the table it and I were under fifteen minutes ago. Heaven forbid my sanity comes back too soon, and I find out that I simply needed to relive that moment again. Of course that had happened, I knew it did and it couldn’t have just been the dwindling fall into my panic attack. I was starting to doubt myself though because we do learn at a very young age how powerful our minds are when it comes to playing tricks on us. It would have still sat in my brain as a hallucination to this day were it not for the coffee cup I grabbed in an attempt to drain out the last bit of coffee I hadn’t dumped yet. The pain was startling and I pulled away from the cup far quicker than the casual manner in which I had grabbed it. My eyes saw the blood on the white cup, and looking at the palms of my hands with all the glass fragments and powder still on them I did a double take on them, and then walked towards the bathroom doing my best not to have another panic attack.

My whole body was killing me, and by the looks of things I hadn’t fallen very well as I stared at the crusts of blood that were still in the corner of my nose. I pulled the shards of glass from my hands, and there was no explanation for the glass with all of the windows back in place, and perfectly dirty. Lord knows why I have any vanity left as I was standing in front of the mirror trying to adjust myself. My head was ringing , no actually make that raging, and there was a throbbing throughout my body as I now had realized that I was able to hit every last inch of me on something during that 4 foot drop I had from the top of the stairs to the bottom. Everything was back to normal but I had enough evidence on me to tell me contrary. Single mommy is prepared for anything, even if it makes no sense after all. You ever get an explanation about something naughty from a pre-teen child before, and you get a sense for the unexplainable and that which is just hard to explain. I was in the latter and the fact that everything was back to normal had no bearing on me because I know what actually happened now. I haven’t actually ever been even a little bit off aside from my poor taste in men, but I rectified that by avoiding men altogether, so no harm no foul. That showed my true sanity, and yes if you are wondering I was having this conversation with myself at the time. I think it is best to be as accurate as possible while not being too boring. Seriously though, nobody had ever questioned my sanity before now so I had to believe my lying eyes all the same.

I at least had myself looking decent again, and the glass was out of my skin but tucked away for safe keeping. I had no intention of letting the imaginary glass out of my safe keeping, but to be honest with you all up front, I don’t ever have a use for it again. It was just good to know I had it in the ladies washroom should I need it later. I adjusted my blouse, and finished washing up my hands to make sure that any of my imaginary wounds don’t get a very real infection. I was ready to finally get that cup of coffee and sit to ponder my insanity.

When I walked out of the bathroom the stranger, Lou was sitting at the end of the counter reading his big old book and hardly taking notice of the closed sign or me for that matter. To show where my mind was at I did stop swooning for a moment to look towards the door and see that he didn’t pay any mind to the fact that it was locked either. The way my day was going, I didn’t even bat an eyelash as I walked over with a cup and the coffee pot that I had left on for myself to take home, and started pouring it for him. He looked up at me a little puzzled, and then back down at his book. I didn’t say a word as I walked away from him and towards the kitchen door. The fact being at this point that I really didn’t care about any of the questions because my head hurt, and I am pretty sure that he didn’t have any answers that I wanted to hear. He acted pretty normal after the odd look he gave me when I showed up with the coffee. I still didn’t swoon but when I looked over my shoulder at him I caught him looking up at me and his face got back in his book as soon as he was spotted. Ok perhaps I swooned a little.

I marched into the kitchen and did a quick inventory of what was left to do, the dishwasher had finished its cycle and I put the last bit of dishes into it. It wasn’t a full rack, but I don’t leave dirty dishes over night because it just isn’t sanitary in this business. I happen to be a clean freak since I can’t exactly afford to miss work because of some laziness virus, so I continue to clean up all the counters with the disinfectant I always use. I actually put Lou clean out of my mind, and I stopped to think of that, which was a dumb thing to do because now he was back in my mind and I was obsessing again. I couldn’t take it any longer and finally went back into the diner itself.

When I came out of the kitchen he wasn’t paying any mind to me anymore, he was simply reading his book, and his coffee cup as always was empty. I really didn’t think about the fact that the place was closed as I started another pot of coffee. It coincided with me putting the last of the other pot in his cup. I was thinking about how I would have thrown any other person out of here by now. He gulped down the steaming hot coffee and my enchantment around him must have broken at that time. “Most people would be going to the hospital drinking 200 degree coffee strait from the pot,” and then pausing I decided to add, “well actually all people would, so don’t you think that perhaps you should at the very least try to look like you fit in?” and he shot me a look that was almost scared. I mean it was almost startling how he looked at me as if he was terrified of something. Then there was that look of confusion before he got his face back into his book. It all happened so fast I’m still amazed I saw it.

“You’re the first person I have ever met that lost the enchantment,” he said to me as if I was supposed to comprehend what he just said. He gave me a lot of credit in that one statement but then continued as if I was his equal. You kind of had to be there to get what I mean since as I said before this man despite my lack of “enchantment” was so beautiful that movie starlets would have groveled as his feet. Come to think of it, why wasn’t he a movie star or something? He was back in his book with the writing I couldn’t read, and it appeared that the conversation on his end at the very least was over.

I simply walked away because I wasn’t as in control of myself as I had had him fooled into thinking. It actually took a little bit of effort to do my routine with him around, but what he had just said made me curious, so I had to ask, even if he didn’t seem to keen to answer the last accusation of how he didn’t fit in. Actually the more I thought about it I was able to focus more on the fact that he didn’t actually fit in, and it was beyond the serious crush that I had on him. Well aside from the fact that every woman had a crush on him, but that was still the only thing that was explainable. Look at him for God’s sake and you would understand instantly. “What exactly does ‘lost the enchantment’ mean?” and I stood there with my hands on my hips waiting for his answer, like a huffy little twit.

He took his face away from his book and looked at me. My hands slipped from my hips as he stared right through me, but I was able to control myself. I kept my clothes on anyway. He started talking, “You’re the first woman that has been able to look me in the face and not lose control of some faction of her sanity,” and then he trailed off and started back in on his book. I simply stood their using my feminine ability of not saying anything, expecting him to use his male ability to overly explain things. By not going away and waiting for him to start rambling on again when the silence starts killing him, I knew I had him right where I wanted him. I actually waited for about ten minutes until my legs started to ache from being stationary and gave up to walk away, when he started talking again, “You hate it when I don’t do something that is typical don’t you?”

Being startled a bit myself over the fact that he pretty much had read my mind I answered him honestly, “Yes, I like to believe that I understand men really well,” and left it at that. Again I waited for him to add to what I said, or in some way show his superiority in this circumstance and he didn’t, which I find infuriating. I finally started talking with a very stern voice, “I assume that you knew that I was waiting for you to respond then?” and then looked at him rather angrily.

He looked up from his book with a smirk on his face. No longer did he have that confused look that had graced his face when I was being untypical. I must have been typical now despite the fact that I didn’t lust after him I was starting to hate him. He said smoothly, “I didn’t have anything to add because you stated the obvious. It was an acknowledgement of agreement that I let it end the conversation,” and then went back to his book. My mind was fixated on that book, and as I write this now I could tell you above all else that I hated that book. That damn book that only he can appear to read and seems to have nothing better to do than read it over and over again. I can’t believe that I would hate the Bible in this way. The only thing I could feel at the moment was the craven need to snatch the book out of his hands.

 Quick and almost effortlessly I ripped that large moldy book clean out of his hands like I was totally immersed with horrible emotion. My seething anger was also a new feeling as I had managed to remain neutral in my temper through all my years of waiting tables and dealing with a good for absolutely nothing husband. Nobody ever got to me like this and if you had known me before page one of this book you would think it was rather amusing how one man in one day had made me so entranced with his beauty and so enraged with his attitude. I dropped the book when I looked down and saw plain English written on the pages. It wasn’t even all that garbage, “Thou shalt” this and “Heretofore” that you see in the bibles at the church either. It was plain spoken word American style English with just a hint of small town Kansas hick in it. The words I saw as the book fell to the back of the counter in slow motion, “I fear no evil, because evil knows my name is cherished by God,” as the book laid open on the cup holder.

I looked up at Lou with a look of sheer panic and apology and to be honest with you I didn’t want to see or touch that book ever again. I had become the queen of irrational fear in a manner of hours, but then again I had squeezed a lot of life into these few hours of the first day since this man had walked into my life. In a condescending voice Lou said to me, “That will teach you to grab other people’s things,” and he reached over the counter to grab the book from the cup holder, simply to open it to where he was when I took it away from him and start reading the words I couldn’t understand again. I even shyly looked down at them to make sure they weren’t English again, and I was correct in my assumption.

“Ok let’s get something strait here, there is something completely f…” and the look he shot at me as he held up his hand and made a noise almost like a parent about to scold a child didn’t stop the rest, “… ucked up about you, and I really don’t care to play the games,” but the bastard was still totally ignoring me aside from trying to stop me from dropping the F Bomb. “What is your problem with me saying the F word anyway?” I then blurted out almost incensed at the moment with how amazingly crazy he makes me. The roller coaster of emotions looking back on it all could be completely dangerous.

“Ladies don’t use words like that, and the fact that it means to ‘Lay Down’ in ancient Saxony doesn’t exactly place any real value on it anyway,” he said without looking out of that damn book. Again the emotions in me just raging as I would have done anything to just start ripping his hair out at the moment. Now I am seriously starting to wonder what my own problem was at the time because I had no control over my emotions. I could feel my lip start to curl as my own body was starting to convulse from my own feelings of extreme hatred and blind rage taking control of me. The blood in my very veins was catching on fire, as I knew before it even was going to happen that my hands were ready to dart out again, only this time it wasn’t the book I was after. Almost at the very instant I was feeling my arms leave my sides to do something I had never done before he spoke up, but this time while staring straight into my eyes, “I’m not worth it, and nothing in this world will ever make up for what you are thinking at the moment,” he paused for a moment and then added, “Perhaps you should go out back and lock the back door, I think it is ajar. You’d hate to leave the place unlocked wouldn’t you?”

My mind started fogging over at that moment as it was the last thing I remember before my mind desperately wanted to go check that door. I was completely befuddled as to why I would do something as stupid as to leave that back door unlocked. Getting that door locked now became the most important thing in the world. I was running into things as I frantically went out to the kitchen to get that door locked. My mind was just racing as I was emotionally abusing myself about being so stupid as to leave that back door open, and I was going to fix that before it ruined everything. There it was and as I look back I know I could see the door was locked but my mind had to make sure. The latch could be loose and then it would be my entire fault, and how could I live with myself? I reached for the handle and grabbed it firmly.

Of course I snapped out of it a minute or so after I grabbed the locked door, but it took me a few minutes to stop shaking it trying to prove that it wasn’t locked. Aside from all of the panicked feelings that I had getting from Lou to that door I look at that irrationality as a lesson in reality. It’s like the dream when I had finally realized to test the smell and the taste of what is going on around me. Here I had to realize that my behavior wasn’t passing the smell test in any way shape or form. I barely remembered Lou telling me that the door was unlocked and it took me a few days to actually clear that up in my own head, but as I turned and walked back out from the kitchen I saw nothing more than an empty diner. What I felt at that moment was that eerily familiar feeling of need that I had felt the last time he had left me like this. Actually I should rephrase that. When he left the restaurant for at this point honesty dictates that I tell you that he doesn’t feel like he is gone, just not in my sight, and that makes me feel sad.

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