by Shawn Abnoxious
The parking lot at Pearls diner was empty except for me... Well, not totally empty but I was surprised to find two other tables occupied at 4:52 am.
One table had an older fellow sitting alone that scowled at me. I didn’t take it personal... Just shrugged it off with a faint laugh that I doubt he could hear but didn’t care either way. It was Monday morning... I speculated that the guy was probably sucking down coffee before going to work or maybe he was coming from work. Whatever. Fuck that guy anyway. I let beast lay where they lay.
I took my both... My regular spot where I could watch Channel 12 News while I had my pre-meal coffee. I was still shaking off my slumber. Near me, bit not near enough for me to hear their discussion, sat a man across from a woman. Both in their 30's (I guess) who paid me no attention unlike the beast and his earlier scowl. I kinda got that affair vibe from them but that’s just me and my ocular pat downs judging a room and its occupants and assessing possible threats.
Call it what you will... but a 24-7 Diner collect criminals pre-crime and post-crime alike. I’m included in that grouping too. Really, in one way or other we are all post-crime and dirty sinners alike.
I get my coffee filled and the waitress knows my style. I place my order after my first completed cup of coffee... "You need a menu?" She asks from across the room.
"Nah" I say and shake my head no just in case she can’t hear me.
I retrieve my copy of A Million Little Pieces[i] from my battle-purse and finish the first chapter using a 4x6 picture as a bookmark. The picture is of a truck from The Pepsi- Cola Company with a phone number and ID number. Really though, its 'narc' number to call and report bad driving. We, the people… of society… are readily encouraged to turn-in each other based on an individuals perception of what is right and what is wrong Below the ID number it sez Pepsi Cares.
America, land of the guilty. The tattle-Tales. We are our own worse enemy.
I get refilled on coffee and per routine, I order.
French fries (topped with shredded cheese)
Soon enough a clanking cowbell sounds on the front door brings T-Wray's arrival. We talk about the job I can’t do that he still does. He shows me a picture of Don Knots as Deputy Barney Fife 'joke arresting' his son at an event in my community that doesn’t even register to me as something to do.
I voiced displeasure of missing that opportunity of which I wouldn’t have went to anyway. I don’t like parade or festival type atmospheres… They always made me feel like a target.
"Citizens Arrest! Citizens Arrest!" T-Wray mimics. I laugh and T-Wray laughs. We, Every single one of us are criminals to one degree or another.
Eggs (over easy)
Home fries (cooked crispy)
Wheat toast (easy on the butter)
Another male/female couple takes a booth near us but still out of our ears reach. Dressed up a bit. They sit next to each other and visibly flirt. A little laugh or giggle every now and then an infrequent kiss. Both are sitting side by side which means business one-way or another
Their behavior is criminal. They are criminals just as everyone else is too.
T-Wray and I talk of our weekends and such... The romantic couple gets out of the booth and head in direction to where the bathrooms are located. As the lady leads, the man follows. He sees a pile of ice where eventually the salad bar will sit later in the day and he dips his fingertips into the ice (for whatever reason is beyond me) and follows the lady into the women’s restroom.
They later re-emerge as T-Wray and I are finishing up... 6am is the old clock-in time at the factory. I think T-Wray is gonna be late but it doesn’t seem to bother him. It never has any other time. I admire that criminal side of him.
The couple resumes their heavy petting sitting side by side impervious to the world around them. I can only imagine the use, in any form, of dipping his fingers in the ice before any particular way they or just him, could be utilizing such actions... its almost criminal
No, it's very criminal.
Good for them.
I buy T-Wray’s breakfast of which I tell then it’s my pleasure but don’t tell him the guilt I also feel. I keep that to myself. We connected instantly from the first moment we met. Kindred spirits... That kinda stuff. I feel as if I’ve abandoned him in the hellhole called 'work' that we both call factory. T-Wray can make a verily strong point concerning mans existence on earth and constant pain and struggle one way or another. Just ask him sometime.
We are all suffering. Pain envelops our day, any day everyday.
We are all sinners. Criminals... We are all guilty.
There’s a flyer on the counter. Something about help with addictions of every sort. There were ten or so pull-tabs for people interested to take. All the tabs were pulled except for one.
"That’s a bad sign” I say to T-Wray. He laughs and snaps a picture with his phone. Phones taking pictures. What will they think of next?
"Send me that picture T-Wray"
He sez OK.
We walk out of Pearls together. The sun is set to rise soon and you can already see its faint glow on the horizon. There’s more traffic on Route 4 now but only T-Wrays cars and mine are in the lot.
T-Wray hugs me and I hug him back. T-Wray tells me he loves me. I tell him I love him back.
I get in the car and Chrome is already playing loud on the car stereo. T-Wray pulled away by time I turn right on Route 4 then make a right onto Symmes Road. The same turns that T-Wray took to get to work. The same way I use to turn and go to work…
On Symmes Road a railroad crossing catches me. I put the car into park and shut the engine off. The stereo is still blaring Half Machine Lips Move and it’s the perfect soundtrack. I sit there and admire the graffiti laced rail cars hoping T-Wray isn’t one of the ten cars in front of me. That would make him definitely late.
Me? I have the time. I go to turn up the volume but it’s already up as far as it goes.
I can still hear the roar and clickity-clack of the train I think or maybe that is just assumed noise bleeding through and mixing with Chrome.
The train is north bound... I wonder to myself if T-Wray ended up being late to work after all. Is he in one of the ten or fifteen cars ahead of me at the train crossing?
The ones waiting... Several of those waiting cars hastily turn around seeking alternate routes bypassing the train and its wait.
We are all criminals...
We are all sinners...
Easy on the butter.