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The crystal pure sun radiated through the plate glass windows of Dale's Diner as Deana for the upteenth time it seemed wiped the faded laminate counter. Her turquoise uniform was faded as well. Dale the owner was proud when he gave the waitresses their uniforms some years ago when he remodeled the diner in the tropical colors of peach and turquoise. Perfect for a Florida diner at that time. Deana never cared for the color of her uniform as it did not go well with her slightly olive skin tone. He had palm trees painted on the walls too that were now chipped and faded. That had to be thirty years ago.

Deana smoothed here apron across her hips as she headed for the windows to tweak the blinds to decrease the blaring sunlight in the diner. As she was narrowing the blinds she peered out and saw the three old chums arriving to the diner as they did every morning at this time. She hurried back to the counter to begin to set up their coffee cups and to pour their coffee. She knew their exact preferences and in what order they would sit on the stools at the counter.

Earl was first in the line on the stools. He was the most gregarious of the three. He liked his coffee black. Joe, a rather demure man would be on the other end. He wanted sugar and cream and lots of it. Then Frank sat in the middle. Frank was sensitive and had a tendency to become whiny or a bit cranky at times. He wanted just cream in his coffee. All three of the gentlemen had been retired for some time and Deana figured they had to be in their mid-seventies in age.

Just as Deana finished pouring the gentlemen's coffee. Crissie, the other morning waitress pounces into the door. She is an hour late. Deana heard the engine rev of Chrissie's boyfriend's truck taking off out of the gravel parking lot. Chrissie is flushed and obviously has spent the night with her boyfriend and overslept. Chrissie looked apprehensively at Deana and asked. "Did you cover for me?" Deana always good as a hairdresser and bartender keeping secrets whispered to Crissie. "Yes, I told Dale you had car trouble and were running late." Deana added. "I can't keep covering for you Crissie." Deana had a soft spot for the twenty year old girl.

The three chums were eating their breakfast and chatting. Except for Joe who was unusually more quiet than normal. Deana refilled their coffee cups and as she filled up Joe's cup she could see he was distracted in thought. "Hi Joe" Deana said brightly. "Huh." Joe was a little startled. "How's life treating you Joe?" Deana asked in her friendly tone hoping to lift Joe's spirits or at least his eyes that were downcast. Joe looked up at Deana and said "I don't know." "I have a big decision to make and I guess I am a little overwhelmed at this point." Deana knows Joe is about to tell her something in confidence. Something he doesn't want everyone to know.

Joe sips his coffee and clears his throat. "The kids want me to move into a retirement community near them." Joe says matter of factly. Deana asks Joe what he wants. "Well, I'd have to sell my house and get rid of all my things that me and Lucy had together." "I don't drive anymore so I couldn't walk here." Joe mentions numerous changes in his life that moving into a retirement community would cause him. Deana asks "Can you see anything good about a retirement community?" "Oh, yeah, yeah...I can but there's this one problem that I haven't told anyone about not even the kids."

Deana, the bearer of secrets says, "What is it Joe?" Joe answers Deana as if he is disgusted with himself. "Well, I won't make any money on selling the house because I took a second mortgage out on it a few years back to pay for Lucy's medical bills and the kids don't know." "They are assuming the house is paid in full and the proceeds from the sale can go to the cost of a retirement home." Deana understands Joe's plight. Deana suggests that Joe be honest with his kids and that as a family they come up with various options for Joe for when the time is right for his living arrangements to change. Deana assure Joe that his family loves him and there will be an answer and that nothing is going to happen overnight.

Deana hears Crissie laughing in the background as she cleans up the plates from the counter. The three chums have finished and left as well as some other patrons that were sitting at the counter. The breakfast crowd is thinning out but a later breakfast crowd always shows up. Since the counter is cleaned up Deana goes to work on the left side of the diner as Chrissie is on the right.

A red haired middle aged woman at table five speaks to Deana is hushed tones. She does not want to be overheard. "What can I get for two dollars?" Deana knows that would only be toast but she tells the lady she was in luck because there was a special today and she could get two eggs, two bacons and two toasts for one dollar and ninety-nine cents. Secrets. They both shared a secret this time. Deana moves on to table four and finds a young mother struggling to make a four or five year old boy sit in his chair. His eyes oddly pinned to the ceiling. He is making a humming sound. There is a fan twirling overhead.

The young mother is apologetic and explains to Deana that her son is Autistic."He is attracted to the motion of the fan you see." The young mother said as she tried to distract her son and have him sit. Again, too much information to give to a stranger. Secrets. "He is non-verbal." In her friendly tone Deana tells the young mother that she can turn the fan off. The young mother seems relieved and makes her order.

The day shift is ending at the diner and Deana and Crissie are out back of the diner having a smoke. Deana is thinking about how good it will feel to get home and take her shoes off and to get a shower and sit down for a while. Crissie was chatting excitedly about her boyfriend and their future plans. Deana remembers the days of young love and infatuation. Now a date a few times a year was not a big deal for the fifty plus waitress; the bearer of secrets. Crissie stopped mid-sentence and looked at Deana and asked "Can I tell you a secret". "Oh, lordy." Deana thought "Oh, lordy."

August 15, 2020 22:53

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