10/14/10: Way to shame me into updating again by commenting, people who comment! (Seriously, though, hi, welcome, and pull up one of the splintery old orange crates that we use for seating 'round these parts seein' as we can't afford no fancy chairs.)

The rules from
here still apply.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Boxer

Teeth brushed, hair combed, and clothes donned, Henry took the quick drive over to Millie's Diner. He would stop in for a cup of coffee and maybe a danish, then head off to work at the plant, same as every morning. It was a quiet life, but at least a predictable one.

"Henry!" the waitress exclaimed as he entered the diner. "I was starting to think you weren't coming by today!"

"Well heck, Brenda," he answered, "Where else am I gonna get coffee half this good?" He took his usual seat at the counter, settling himself down carefully on the slightly-wobbly stool. "Speakin' of which, a cup of your finest, if you don't mind?"

Grinning, Brenda shook a finger at him. "I keep telling you to stop with that flattery, mister. I may be on to your tricks, but the other girls may not be so lucky." She set the coffee down in front of him. "Just don't know what we're going to do with you."

"Just keep serving up the coffee and I don't think you'll have to worry about anything else," he replied, chuckling. She smiled back, then set to work cleaning up the remains of someone else's breakfast at the other end of the counter.

Henry drank his coffee slowly, savoring it -- it wasn't really that good, as coffee went, but he still came here for it five days a week. Mainly he just liked the chance to talk to someone who wasn't another guy down at the plant, or old Mr. Winters at the grocery store. All his old high school friends had gotten married eventually, becoming wrapped up in their family lives. Henry, though, had never been much with women, and so as the old gang settled down, he still continued on more or less alone. Now here he was pushing fifty, and his only friends were the waitresses at Millie's.

He drained the last of his coffee. Brenda was busy with another customer, so on his way out he left his payment on the counter, along with his usual generous tip. Brenda was his favorite waitress here; not pretty, but young and sweet and generous to a fault. He hoped her father was proud of her. Henry certainly would have been proud to have raised such a fine girl.

The truck started on the second try, and Henry continued on to the plant to put in another day's work. Then it would be home to the empty house, and a quick dinner, and a night of sleep before he got up to do it all over again. It wasn't in his nature to be unhappy, but he still heaved a sigh as he was pulling into the plant parking lot.

"I hope Brenda does better than I did," he thought to himself, not for the first time. "She shouldn't have to get old and then find herself all alone. She shouldn't have to be lonely."

He eased the truck into an open space and cut the ignition. For a moment he only sat there, gathering his thoughts. Then he squared his shoulders, stepped out of the truck, and prepared to face another day.

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