Well, it was the middle of the most stinking hot month of summer here on the edge of the desert. Yesterday, a sunday, was just amazing for so many reasons. I think we did make it to sleep a little early last night, well earlier than we usually do. We woke up a little early as a result. That wasn’t a problem; we just took our time. Bill almost led us out to the swing, but the fans were doing their job and it wasn’t really hot in our room. We enjoyed some rocking chair time. But we did finally get going, get dressed and ready, two sideways pony tails and all. And I haven’t even been mentioning this, but we brushed our teeth pretty regularly. And Bill knows how much I appreciate his soft face, so he shaves every evening at some point. Bill still wanted to head to the Diner a little early so we could help the AC out, and get the Diner cooled off when our first customers wanted some food. Bill led us out the front door and froze halfway through the doorway. I ran into him then stopped, then felt him slowly push me back inside. When he could, he quickly closed the door. He pulled a curtain aside and showed me why. There was a rattlesnake on our porch. He was only now coiling up. Still, this was bad for a number of reasons. I was quickly in tears, because I hardly ever looked or even checked for them… How did I ever survive…
I followed Bill to one of the closets in the kitchen. I guess Bill had already found Ed’s gun collection. He pulled one out right away, put two small reddish things in, then… I guess it was ready. Bill had me stand behind the window in the front door while he walked into our room, and closed the door. The next thing I heard, LOUD… KaBlam! That sound frightened me, but the next time I looked, it was clear that snake couldn’t move any more. Bill already had the second reddish thing out of the gun when he came back out of our room. “I apologize for the mess on the porch. I will clean that up tonight” he said quietly.
Then I cried. I would have walked right out, right over that rattler, and probably be dead by now. My Bill had seen it, and rescued us both from it. Just another reason I desperately needed my Bill… We walked carefully around what was left of the snake on the porch, and Bill looked carefully as we walked slowly to the wagon and got in. Wow, I was glad to be inside our wagon! Well, that snake freaked both of us out, I think. We parked in the back parking lot at the Diner like we usually do, got out, then walked carefully around the Diner to the front porch. We didn’t see any more snakes. And Bill explained that many of the locals carry a gun in their trucks just for that. I don’t know, I said maybe we should keep one in our little wagon. Bill said that wasn’t a good idea because one of the locks in the wagon was broke, which meant we couldn’t lock the gun in. Besides, as many windows as our little wagon had, it would be hard to hide anything in it. Bill said that was not so much a problem with the big trucks most men drove around here. Well, my Bill took care of me. I think that whole episode made me want to hug Bill a lot that day. After I realized that, I smiled. I hugged Bill a lot every day at the Diner!
Since it was a monday, the lunch rush was pretty hectic. Bill and I, we did what we needed to do. Well, Bill made look easy what I sweated through for months. And Bill still found time to hug me, to kiss me. But we were both finally glad when the rush slowed down to not quite as busy, maybe that works. And, I realized that afternoon too, that our favorite place to relax was turning out to be leaning against the low singles table in front of the order up shelf. We would often, Bill would often hug me and lean against that low table as we hugged, and kissed some, too. But I realized that we did that quite a bit, even when the Diner was pretty busy. Next to my man, I think I often just got into some zone (I think) and pretty much ignored everything else. I hoped we were not offending anyone. I just love my Bill! Well, I guess we had not heard anyone complain, so maybe that…
But leaning up against the singles table like that, I was the one who saw Victor and Delores slowly make their way up the stairs to the Diner. I was already waiting at the door, and Delores and I were quickly crying, hugging… Well, Victor started talking, and Delores and I quieted down right away. Victor was talking to Bill. Victor reached out his hand and shook Bill’s hand first. My amazing man hugged Victor briefly.
“Bill, I’m sorry… about the way, well, I know you were tryin’ to help me. And, I guess I needed your help. All the Doc’s kept saying I was lucky this time. Well, all that was scary. I don’t want there to be a next time. Still, I appreciate…”
Victor cried briefly, and Bill hugged him again, briefly. Then Bill added, tentatively “I think Delores might have a good idea how…”
Victor put his arm around Delores. “Yeah, I know this special lady wants to help me. I just wish’d I’d a listened sooner. But I guess the good lord got my attention, anyways.” Victor hugged Delores with the arm around her, and Delores had a hard time not crying, even though I was not sure why.
Bill was in thought a minute, then sort of shook his head side to side briefly. “Truck driving?” Bill asked, clearly a question.
“Well, I’m on leave for a month maybe, but I don’t think I’m going back. Heck, they can replace me easy anyway. They just use us, burn us out, then get another. Least I didn’t wreck the rig, or worse, when all this…” Victor stopped briefly himself, and worked at not crying. But he continued “I wanna find a job driving, but someplace close to home, where I can enjoy my family more.” Of course, Victor was looking at Delores and smiling when he said that. I was pretty sure Kacey and Tina were in his thoughts, too.
Bill was in thought some more. “Can you both have a seat and wait here a little while?” Bill asked.
Victor answered right away “Yeah, I need to set. Delores has me on this no food diet, and…” Well, Victor laughed, and so we did too. Delores and Victor picked a booth close to one of the front windows and sat together. It was stinking hot outside, but the AC took care of that. Bill headed back into the kitchen, and I asked Delores and Victor if they wanted anything. Then I headed off for two soda cups so Delores could get them both ice water. Yes, I guess Victor was in for some hard changes. That just had to be though. The alternative wasn’t so attractive.
I was busy taking an order when I noticed the delivery truck drive past the front of the Diner, and around the side. I was pretty sure Bill would be ready for them. As I picked up two burgers and fries, I saw the back door open and Bill carrying in a big box of milk. Wow, I used to struggle with those… About when I suspected Bill was done, he came in and got Victor, and led him out back slowly, through the kitchen. Then I realized… The company that ran the delivery trucks just might be… I took a break and sat next to Delores. She was quickly crying on my shoulder as I hugged her. I think, well if anything bad like that happened to my Bill, I would be terrified. I cried with Delores for a little while. Out of the blue, Delores put her head up, and said quietly “looks like trouble to me…”
I quickly guessed what she meant, and turned slowly to look out the window. “Hey Maude, what’s up?” It was the food delivery truck driver, and in order for him to be in here, I guessed that Bill was outside talking with Victor. Bill said later Victor was on his cell talking most of that time. But I realized that I would have to handle this myself. I almost laughed out loud at that realization!
Without even turning to look, I said slowly “You can go talk to my husband, if you want. I don’t have anything–”
Well, I guess he tried. “Look, I’ve really changed. Honest!”
I almost laughed again. “Well, you are too late. My Bill treats me like such a lady, his precious treasure. And he doesn’t call me zombie!”
Delores said he walked slowly away. And I never saw him again. Bill and Victor came slowly back in just a minute or two later. Victor seemed pretty happy, and slowly explained, mostly to Delores I think. “Honey, the delivery company is looking for drivers. I told him about my experience, well, and my heart attack. He said the same thing happened to him 15 or so years ago. He wants me to rest up, then come talk to him. He said if everything works out, they have routes already waiting if I want.”
Delores got up and hugged Victor, then Victor said something about needing a nap. Before they left to go pick Tina up from a friend’s house, I hugged Delores tightly. “I am so glad everything worked out” I said quietly.
Delores said quietly back “Thank you for being there for me Maude… It seems like just yesterday…” Well, that made us both cry.
“So, no hard feelings?” Victor asked Bill.
Bill smiled. “…just trying to help” then Bill hugged Victor again.
Delores and Victor headed slowly to the door, then out. Bill and I had a lot of catching up to do. It didn’t take very long. And this was good, because the dinner rush started soon after Victor and Delores left. I wanted to say the dinner rush hit hard; we were swamped most of the evening. It was a monday, and mondays are usually busy. But that monday evening… We were serving a lot of travellers, and locals too. Everyone was scattered all over the Diner, wherever a table opened up. And yes, I cleared tables for my man when he was washing dishes, which was a lot. I laughed when I did that; Bill is so much faster. It didn’t matter, we both just did what we needed to do. The cook smiled the whole time. He really enjoys cooking, and with the vent fan working and the AC keeping him cool…
The net result of all this was that we didn’t, couldn’t start cleaning until very late, and so we dragged ourselves out into the sauna of mid-august here on the edge of the stinking desert very late. The moon was pretty high, but after that snake this morning… Bill was on the lookout carefully as we walked around back and got into the wagon. Well, in the headlights I thought I also saw a snake or two… Walking home might not be a good idea… That was ok; I was next to my man, hugging him as he drove us slowly home. And he used the flashlight to check before he even got out of the wagon. We carefully, slowly made our way up the steps to the porch, and around the dead snake. I didn’t wait, and told Bill we could wait on cleaning that up.
Bill locked us in and we showered quickly and together. Bill set two fans up in the bedroom and we were in bed soon after. We were both beat and fell quickly asleep together.
1. Maude: Revelations is copyright 2017 by Shysage.