Five O’Clock Diner

The waitress showed the couple to a booth and filled two mugs with coffee without looking at them. “I’ll be back to take your order,” she said, then turned away with the menus still under her arm.

“What’s with her?” He reached across the table and grabbed a handful of pink and white sugar packets, tore the tops off four packets, and tipped them into his coffee. The girl looked at him confused. “The waitress, I mean.” He added four more packets of sugar to his coffee before stirring in milk. “She’s kind’a sour and pinched that waitress. She shouldn’t work here if she doesn’t like people, and she’s way too forgetful. Like, where are the menus?”

The girl shrugged, and reached for the mug of coffee in front of her. Slowly, she dribbled milk into the mug and watched it bloom beneath the surface of coffee.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” He drank half his mug of coffee in one swallow and licked his mustache. “It’s not you, you know. It never was, so relax. Don’t take it so personally.

Through the diner window the girl could see afternoon closing in on supper-time. The diner would start to fill in a half an hour. She looked at her watch. It’s been a day. “It’s done now,” she said.

“Don’t look so worried. She’ll get over it.” He drained his coffee  and looked for the waitress.

“I know. You’re right,” she said, “but I saw the look on her face when you told her. I could see her from the car.  It twisted me up inside to watch her crumble in the door frame, to see that wretched, crushed look on her face and know that she looked this way because of me, because of you, because of everything.”

The waitress returned with menus.

“About time,” he said, slamming his empty mug on the table. “More coffee.” He gestured to the girl, “What do you want to eat?”

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Trifecta Writing Challenge. Week 16 word: wretched-adj.

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16 thoughts on “Five O’Clock Diner

  1. I love this piece. And the image just goes with it so beautifully. Thank you for sharing this here with all of us.

    1. Scriptor Obscura~ I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece. Yes, I thought Hopper’s painting was a nice addition without being too distracting. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  2. First: I LOVE that picture. That’s one of my favorites ever.
    Second: The dialogue had a marvelous Philip Marlowe feel to it.
    Third: I love that you see the end of this man’s marriage, his wife’s agony, through the mistress’s eyes. Very effective.

  3. Oh, I totally got that this was some sort of affair, that one was given the bad news and the other felt guilty.

    Interesting that HE doesn’t feel bad. What a jackass…and if he keeps putting so much sugar in his coffee he’ll end up fat. The girl should keep THAT in mind 😉

  4. Thanks for linking up with us. This is a great read. Your development of your characters in such a short story is excellent. The man is despicable and heartless – rude to the waitress, dismissive of his ex-wife’s distress and condescending to his new lover. You get the feeling that this new relationship will not turn out well for the mistress. Great job.

    Hope you can link up for the weekend challenge.

    1. I’m not sure about voting from another computer for the weekend challenge. Computers are in limited supply here. I love that the number of entries grows each challenge and each person has a different take on the prompts. Keep it going!

  5. I hope you give us MORE of these two! Your words gave me a clear picture of them and you had so few words to work with.

    1. More of these two means the guy would need to be more likable…… I’m pleased I was able to render a clear picture for you. Thanks for taking a moment to post a response and following the blog. 🙂

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