“Hey there, hon. Ya lost?”
“Oh, no, ma’am. No indeed. I am here for a piece of pie.”
“We got pie. That all you want?”
“I believe so, yes.”
“Meatloaf is on special.”
Meatloaf is on special! I hadn’t had meatloaf in years! Not since I lived at home, not since before I left for college.
“Meatloaf,” I said. “Meatloaf sounds marvelous!”
“Whatever you say, hon. Comes with mashed potatoes and gravy and a drink.”
“Please, yes. The meatloaf special, and pumpkin pie for dessert.” I rapped the countertop with my bare knuckles.
“You got it,” she said, and she scribbled on her pad, and she pinned it to a silver rotating wheel sitting in the window to the kitchen. “Meatloaf, Phil!” she called.
Phil, who I presumed to be the cook, grunted unseen and made up my meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy.
Egads! Never had a loaf of meat entranced me so. It made the colors of the café dance in my eyes and it made the speckles on the countertop move in my heart. And Carol, she was the speckle of them all. She was the dancey, curvy thing against the flat surface of my heart. She was older than I, to be sure, by a good twenty years, but she bore her experience like a beauty mark. She wore glasses that were tinted peach and a barrette in her hair that kept it from falling in her face as he wiped down tables and countertops. The construction workers smiled at her and gave her sass, and she sassed them right back. An example:
“Hey there, honey. You got some pie for me?”
“All the pie you’re gonna get is in that spinnin’ case right over there.”
“How ‘bout you spin that case over here to me?”
“You better watch the door don’t close on your fingers, you go reachin’ for it.”
“Aw, come on now, Carol. I just want a little piece.”
“Yeah? Well I want me a big piece, so I guess I gotta keep lookin’.”
And all the other construction workers laughed, and I laughed too, loudly and with a mouth full of meat. They looked at me warily as I did so, not quite sure what to make of me yet. They’d figure me out in time, I was sure, but I already knew in my heart that I was one of them.