The remaining leaves on the trees rustled like dried bones in the wind and the clouds resembled fingers of doom. I'm sure it was an omen—but not about the weather—a sign of the strange morning crouched ahead, waiting to pounce.
My husband, Russ, and I ignored it and drove to Nephi for breakfast. When we walked into the restaurant, we noticed very few patrons. Ahhh, another omen.
We sat in a booth without removing our jackets. “It’s cold in here,” Russ said, blowing on his fingers to stave off frostbite.
I wiggled in my seat. “It feels like I’m sitting on a snow bank in Alaska. In fact, my … um … sitter … is so numb, I can’t feel it.”
Russ eyed that portion of my anatomy with a raised eyebrow and tried not to laugh.
“Should we stay?” I whispered, my elbow landing in a sticky puddle of leftover syrup.
“Yes—I need to use the men’s room,” Russ said as the waiter walked toward us. We placed our order and Russ headed to the bathroom.
I sat looking over my shoulder, watching the waiter press little buttons with pictures to indicate our choices.
Have you ever wondered about that? If the waiters need little pictures of food to punch in the order, what is the chef using to cook?
Engrossed in watching our server, I didn’t realize it appeared I was staring at the guy standing between us. Hearing his voice, I refocused my attention on the very large man. His jeans seemed held up by something unusual—either a rope, or a long, frayed snake. I wanted to determine which, but staring at his pants didn’t seem like a good idea. He might get the wrong message, walk over and sit with me.
His hair stuck straight up as if he’d combed it with a blender and he looked like he’d lost his razor somewhere in Fargo, North Dakota. As he continued to speak, I decided he was a trucker. The next thing I knew, he stood beside me.
“Boy, this state is really something,” he thundered. “They’ll sell you a pack of cigarettes, but they won’t let you smoke ‘em inside.”
I felt like saying if he didn’t like Utah, he could certainly feel free to keep driving. But he was really big, so instead I said, “Yes, that’s how it is here,” and looked away.
Despite my subtle signals, he rattled on. “We ought to do what they’re doing in California. Sign a petition that we’re being discriminated against!”
This nut was latching onto me. Where was Russ when I needed him? The behemoth seemed to be waiting for some sort of answer, so in a voice that could deep-freeze a hot tamale, I replied, “Well, I’m not a smoker, so you’re not going to get much help from me.”
Did he get my understated message? No. In a voice heard in Detroit he bellowed, “There’s some stadium in Michigan that’s being built with money from smokers and the place is going to be non-smoking. Non-smoking!” And then he belched.
I threw the woolly mammoth a look that should have skewered him. What—didn’t he hear me say, “I’m not a smoker so you’ll get no help from me?”
What was taking Russ so long? Was the little boy’s room in the gas station across the street? If he didn’t return soon, the man might think we were friends and eat half my ham and eggs.
Just then, Russ walked in, and though the Titan was a large man, he was fleet of foot. He scurried back to his table and never looked at me again.
“Where have you been?” I hissed. “That big guy over there wouldn’t leave me alone.”
Russ grinned. “He must have been attracted to your endearing young charms.”
Endearing young charms? Those disappeared ages ago. In fact, only two guys had flirted with me in the past decade—the rope-tied behemoth and an inmate at the state mental hospital who thought I was a fellow patient.
Things like that are hard on a gal’s ego. I’m not sure how to resurrect my feminine wiles, but I suppose I really should try.
Maybe I’ll get my nose pierced and buy a leather skirt. That should help.
What books C.L. recommends:
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King
View C.L.’s other work: