Serial Story: Scene 6
Okay before the month ends, here’s a return to Maria’s story.
“Only 20 minutes left.” Face wrinkled. Can smell her fear . . . Staring at the clock again. 9:40 pm.
Maria paced, “What’s the deal with the ambulance?” she wondered. “The after-game crowd is always here by now.” She stopped, turned, and peered out the front window.
“What do you think, Juan? Did the game just go long?”
He came out of the kitchen, shuffling over to the door to check on traffic out in the street. “Nada,” he said.
Smile long forgotten, Maria paced again. “So close,” she thought. “Just $4.82 more tonight and I will have the rent money. Anything else i make tonight or tomorrow will be mine to spend.”
The minute hand continued to tick away. Headlights, and then a car pulled in and parked. Five minutes before ten. Maria raced to fill water glasses, still praying for a crowd . . . but willing to settle for just four or five tables of customers.
As the door opens, her expectant smile turns down. It’s Joe, the owner. “Where is everybody?” He looks around as if customers are hiding under the tables.
Maria shrugs her shoulders. “That’s what we were wondering. The ambulance went by 20 minutes ago. It’s quit snowing so at least if someone got hurt they won’t be lying in a pile of snow on the field . . . I hope.”
“Well, what do you two want to do? Stay open a bit longer or go ahead and close up?” Joe steps behind the counter. “Juan, are you ready to go home?”
Juan starts to nod his head and then sees the expression on Maria’s face. He remains mute, waiting for Maria to speak.
Maria says, “I think people will be cold and hungry. If we only knew whether the game was over, then it would be easier to decide.” And in unison, they turn towards the lights and sounds behind them on Main Street. Cars pulling up out front, doors slamming, voices, the door opening and a steady stream of people. All talking at once. Loud voices. Cold air. Red noses and cheeks. Coats tightly fastened to keep out the cold.
“Three coffees over here, Maria.”
“Hot chocolate here, Maria.”
It looks like every seat is filled. Maria’s face is consumed by a grin stretching from ear to ear. “The tips don’t even have to be good and I’ll be able to make some extra money,” she thought. Busy at Joe’s Diner on a Friday night after the football game was often good for $20.00 or more in tips. But with the excitement of the ambulance, there was a story here that just might cause the diners to linger a little longer to tell their own stories about what delayed the game. After all, her homework was done and she had no place to go until 11 am when she had to be back at the diner for her Saturday shift.
Disaster averted. Rent paid. “Wait til I tell Mama when I talk to her tomorrow. Maybe she’ll have good news about Grandma and she will tell me when she’ll be back. I miss my family. I don’t really like living alone.” She picked up her order pad and started through the crowd taking orders and turning them in to Juan, bouncing from table to table.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.