Bill actually fixing our AC at the Diner, that seemed to make us more busy(?). The local’s annex was always busy as locals came and went. They probably came to enjoy a little cool on these stinking hot days. Bill even remarked that morning that it was really hot as we walked to the Diner. He suggested getting gas for the wagon, and just driving to the Diner. I didn’t mind that suggestion at all! Last summer, I remembered getting to work all hot and sweaty already, but work at the Diner did that to me anyway, so it didn’t matter. But now, I think Bill was trying to take better care of me. Still, having the AC, and being able to offer our customers a welcome break from unrelenting heat (but it was dry heat; that made me laugh). Well, I thought our business was picking up. Bill agreed with me as we shared some ice cream later that afternoon.
The lunch rush was waiting for us when we arrived (a little early) that morning. Bill quickly opened all the windows and doors, and actually set up our fans to try to cool it off some inside. And he turned the AC on in the middle of that process. Still, thanks to Bill’s work, the Diner was nice and cool inside, maybe 30 minutes later. Outside, it was another bruiser day. And I shook my head as I realized that, last summer, the fans were all we had. A bruiser day outside meant it was really hot inside the Diner. Bill fixed that. And yes, I did stop and cry on his chest for a few minutes, right in the middle of the lunch rush. How did I ever survive before Bill… Just barely, I think… It did slow down some after the lunch rush tapered off.
Maybe having to fight off salesmoron after salesmoron… When someone, anyone walks in the front door of the Diner, I guess I can usually come up with some idea how much of a hassle they might be. I would have called it a defense mechanism before, before Bill, but with Bill around now, any problems would be for him to deal with.
In the middle of that afternoon, this young man came in by himself. I didn’t recognize him at all; I didn’t think he was a local. Well he didn’t look at me or anybody else, as he shoved the door open, and walked quickly in, then to a window booth and sat down harshly. I waited a minute, then walked slowly over to his booth, pen and tablet in hand, and asked him what he wanted to order.
He answered immediately and abruptly, and just a little loud “Just… leave me alone…” I began to turn and walk away as the order up bell rang. This young man answered a little quieter “…a soda would be nice…” He was looking out the window this whole time, still trying hard not to look at me or anyone else. I brought him his cup, well I put it on the table next to him, then went back and took an order to a local family across the dining room. As I walked back to the order up shelf, he had his soda, and was sitting back where he was, sipping, looking out the window mostly. I realized… I really couldn’t tell if this young man would be trouble, or if he was just hurting. Either way, this would be for Bill to deal with.
I walked back into the kitchen, got a nice kiss, then explained the young man in booth 9. Bill hugged me tight, then said quietly “You might need to cover the annex for me.” I just smiled. Of course I would do that for my Bill. I stayed in the kitchen briefly, while Bill headed out into the dining room. Bill got himself another soda, so I could still sip on ours, I saw that much. I walked out a little later because I saw more people come in. Bill was trying to talk to that man. Well, Bill helped me do ‘my journal’ he always called it with a smile. But I needed Bill to do this section.
After I got a soda, I walked slowly over to that young man, and slid quietly in across the table from him. I knew he knew I was there, but he didn’t turn away from the window, and he said nothing for minutes maybe. After that, I tried. “How can I help you?” I asked quietly.
He laughed cynically right away. After he was done with that, he said “Help… That will be the day…” He still avoided looking away from out the window.
I waited a few minutes more, then said quietly “Well, I want to help you.” That was all I said.
He was in thought briefly I think, then he said slowly “Wow, you sound just like–” He turned slowly away from the window as he said this. By the time he got that far, he was looking at me, and he gasped. After looking at me with amazement, I guess, he said quietly “No… It can’t be… He’s de–”
I interrupted him and said quietly “I still want to help you.”
He sighed, took a drink of soda, then looked down. “My girlfriend is pregnant. That is the problem…” He thought briefly, then explained a little more “Away at college, I don’t know… She and I, we felt we were pretty close, in love, like that, I think… Neither of us had… and we wanted to… Well, I guess it worked like it was supposed to… She’s pregnant now…” He said this much, sighed again, then went back to looking out the window.
“Ok, so what now?” I asked calmly.
He didn’t turn to face me even. “Simple medical procedure, I guess. Well, that is what I think, what I have been told…” He was quiet a minute, then he added slowly “But Shiela doesn’t want… that…”
It was quite for a minute maybe, and I said this. “I have a hard time justifying that a simple medical procedure doesn’t take a life that would otherwise have blossomed… And you need to know, that simple medical procedure often scars women emotionally for the rest of their lives.” I stopped briefly, then asked this. “Did you enjoy it?” I knew he knew what I meant.
He turned to face me immediately and answered right away. “Of course, it was amazing.”
“Did she?” I asked quietly.
“Yes… Well I…” Then he looked down at the table again. “I guess I am not sure…”
I sighed, then asked this. “Suppose you both really enjoyed that. You can walk away from that pleasure without any added responsibility, right?” He nodded. “Can she?” I asked next. I didn’t think I needed to explain, but I added anyway “…20+ years raising a child or decades of emotional scarring from a simple medical procedure…”
It was quiet for a few minutes. He was deep in thought, staring at the table, occasionally sipping his soda. He abruptly looked up at me, put his soda cup down hard enough that it made noise, then said “So you are telling me I need to do the responsible thing, or walk away like a moron.”
I didn’t get a chance to answer. Less than a minute later, he was out the Diner door and gone. I was just trying to help…
Well, like I said, I think he was a traveller. I didn’t recognize him as a local anyway. And, after he quickly left, Bill and I hugged as we leaned against the low singles tables. I knew Bill was hurting, I knew, I felt that. But I also felt that he was hurting for that young man, and his Shiela… And, I was soon brushing away tears too. Bill had rescued me from that very thing at the hands of some ‘overnight jumper’ salesmoron, no less… Well, we didn’t, couldn’t hug long. Dinner rush erupted soon after. We had to get back to work. Like Bill said, we were just trying to help him…
Dinner rush worked to ease that afternoon, that young man into the background. I don’t know if that was good or bad. We didn’t know them, and couldn’t find anything out anyway. It was a busy night; even I felt that. Both Bill and the cook kept busy the whole time. Bill especially… Well, he seemd to walk quickly from one table to the next, one task to the next. I don’t know how he does it, but that sort of thing really freaked me out when I did this by myself. I just froze if I couldn’t decide, couldn’t remember what to do next. I guess Bill just stacked it all up in his mind, and worked it through. Well, Bill was now doing a lot of what I used to do. As I have said, he does so much better than I ever could.
Well, and in the middle of dinner rush, one of the local ladies, one of Delores’ friends, came in, found me, and handed me a fairly large package. “This is from Delores” she said quietly, then she turned around and left. I carried that package straight to Bill, and only then broke down and cried. There in the middle of the dining room, Bill hugged me tight for a few minutes. I calmed down because I needed too. Bill wisely put that package somewhere out of sight in the kitchen so I didn’t need to see it, or deal with that. I just couldn’t.
The locals stayed late. Most were complaining about how hot it was outside. I heard one lady say it was like a sauna out there. Bill explained that to me later. Well, it was nice and cool here inside the Diner. I guess I was glad we could offer some in our town a little comfort anyway. But the result was that Bill and I were actually walking home pretty late. And the hot air really did blast at us as we walked outside that night, and locked the front door of the Diner behind us.
Being reminded about Delores again, and with a package from her no less… I was hurting some as we headed around back and started walking home. I didn’t say anything, hoping my man would realize. But as we walked in silence, I realized… My precious Bill was hurting, too. That young man and his Shiela… There was just nothing we could do about that… except hurt. My Bill was doing that… I remembered asking Bill once if being a true friend was hard. He cried that time, so I didn’t bother asking him again. But I realized… Bill cared… And now he was hurting… because he still cared… and about a stranger and his girlfriend, no less… I was so humbled by that… So, as we walked home, I hugged him tightly, and tried to kiss him when I could. I told him a few times that I loved him so much. Well, I knew what I really wanted to do, what I wanted to give him, I was just not sure how to do that.
We walked past some big tractor or something as we followed the stepping stones up to our porch. Once Bill let us in, we headed into our bedroom. As Bill used the restroom, I quickly took all my clothes off, then sat on the edge of the bed. When Bill came out… Maybe he was thinking about that too! He came out with no clothes on, and sat on the bed right next to me. Still, I asked if we could go look at Earl’s progress in our back pasture before we got in bed. Neither of us had any clothes on, but it was warm, maybe hot inside, and still warm outside. Completely naked, Bill and I got up, and walked slowly, hugging, to our back door then out. With a low soft blue half moon to the east, straight ahead from the back porch… Well, all the cactus plants were long gone, and it looked like an ocean of grass! Bill said “Wow…”
I said quietly “That… smells so amazing…” Our back yard was tons nicer than I had ever seen it.
Bill walked over to that box thing and turned a set of those big lights on briefly, the lights closest to the house. He looked carefully for a minute or so, then turned the lights off. We let our eyes adjust back to the moon off in the distance. Surprising me, my Bill picked me up, and carried me maybe 30 feet out into that nice grass, then he laid down on his back. Of course, I was quickly on top of him. We hugged tightly and kissed, as we enjoyed this amazing carpet of grass in our back yard. Bill responded… Wow, my Bill responded. Well, I did too; Bill looked amazing in the soft glow from the moon, and laying flat on his back under me! We… Wow… I wanted to give to him that night, to help him, because I knew he was hurting, but we both… We both enjoyed each other in our back yard that night. And after we had both felt so amazing, Bill had me just stay there, rest there on top of my man, for quite a while. Laying there, in this amazing grass, on top of my man… Wow… But Bill was soon crying softly. He probably knew I was concerned. He said quietly, just a few times “Wow, I love you so much…” That made me cry, too.
I think we spent over an hour out there, as the moon steadily rose higher. Bill explained that the grass wasn’t really full yet, and there was still some dirt exposed, and that we should probably shower next. I would never turn that down! We showered together, taking our time, then my man dried us both off, and brushed my hair as I sat on the edge of the bed. Well, it was still warm in the house, so my man carried me to the front porch for some swing drying time, he said with a chuckle. I fell asleep on my man that night, and don’t even remember him helping me into bed. Well, I remember scooting to him as he pulled me close with his hand on my belly. That was it!
1. Maude: Revelations is copyright 2017 by Shysage.