I spent many a late night in diners and this is my ode to those great 24 hour joints where anyone can walk through the door...
Back when I was seeing the waitress,
I met a ghost at the diner counter.
I dunno, it was three a.m. or so
-- that nevertime where tired
cranky and mellow
become one weird sensation.
Anyway, as I jotted some
meaningless notes into a
notepad full of lost ideas, I felt a
presence next to me. He had the
entire counter to himself, but he
chose to plop himself on the
stool five inches away.
It seemed that he needed the
company, so I placed my pen on
the nearest napkin and said hello.
It looked as if he’d been crying and
his shirt was torn with a bloodstain
streaming from his nose to his mouth.
Scratches all over his face, he was
just a plain mess. I looked around to
see if anyone came in with him but
oddly, I was the only one in the joint.
In fact, the staff was nowhere,
must’ve been scattered in the kitchen.
We talked for about an hour, over coffee
and a half-pack of Winstons. He spoke
of his wife – both sad and angry - gesturing
their argument from earlier that evening.
Every now and again, he’d repeat, “They
wonder why we do the things we do.”
He said that men had it rougher than
we’re ever given credit for. Then he asked about
my own situation and I pointed to
the waitress in a shoulder-shrug sort of way.
He smiled, but quickly, again found his
rant, “We can’t cry or
fuss or carry on like them. We have
to listen to their bullshit complaints.”
I shrugged my shoulders as I looked
for my Zippo asking, “Whaddya gonna do?”
“Cheat,” he answered. It was a simple,
heartfelt answer that I found funny.
The two of us sat there enjoying its honesty.
I made sure the waitress wasn’t listening
or else I'd get holy Hell on the ride home.
But then my new friend got somber once again
and kept repeating “And they wonder why...”
I never saw him ever again.