Chick’s Diner

b1dd7776b4574d506a0dbde4d18a232d (1)

I’ve always been impressed that the apostrophe is in the right place on the old neon sign. It would have added to the cost, but I guess the original ‘Chick’ wanted everything to be just right.

Somehow, the old diner has continued in business with parking in rear, despite sitting on an expensive piece of real estate.

The block would have been on the edge of town when the diner opened, but these days it has been gobbled up by progress.

Steak and Chops are still on the menu, but I prefer the sausages and eggs.

Back in the day, it is said that ‘Chick’s’ stayed open twenty-four hours. These days, it’s open until two in the morning, which is okay by me. The opening and closing hours are flexible, and if the diner has customers at closing time, it stays open until they want to leave, which kind of makes you feel wanted, and I guess if you are up at that hour, you are in need of a bit of comfort.

When I can’t sleep, I wander down to ‘Chick’s’ and sit and write. As long as I buy coffee, they don’t seem to mind.

Taxi driver’s and emergency workers love the place.

The girl who works the late shift is friendly and knows how to listen in the same way that a good bartender does.

No-one messes with her because the short-order cook is a big bloke and rumour has it he strangled someone over a parking space.

Speaking of parking — I rarely drive to the diner, living as close as I do, but when I do arrive in a car, I’m allowed to park out the front. Someone said that it was like receiving a gold medal at the Olympics. Only me and the cops are allowed to park out the front. I don’t know what I did to receive such a high honour, but I have learned not to argue with good fortune. I park out front now and then to show that I can. It has raised my standing in the community.

I found a wallet on the floor of a booth once. I returned it intact even though I hadn’t sold a story in a long while. There was fifty bucks in that wallet, and I was sorely tempted, but I knew my mum would have been disappointed in me if I lifted the money. I remember the look on the bloke’s face when I banged on his door and gave him the wallet.

“Thank you,” he said, “I wasn’t supposed to be in that part of town that night,” he said, handing me the fifty. “Please don’t mention where you found it.”

“Who are you?” said an aggressive woman who reminded me of one of my aunties — the one I was still scared of.

“Just came to return a wallet,” I said, taking a step back.

She pushed her husband to one side and stared at me.

“Where did you find it?” she said.

I looked over my shoulder and noticed the flowers growing on the lawn.

“Just over there, near the footpath,” I lied.

The woman glared at me, and behind her, I saw the man give me a nod.

“Don’t think you’re getting a reward,” said the angry woman.

“No need for a reward lady. It’s enough to see your smiling face,” I said as I stepped back out of range.

I could see my mum smiling as I told her the story. She would be proud of me, and I wished she was still alive so I could see her smile one more time.

Making her smile was my greatest delight.

Cafe.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 12.20.18 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 5.24.50 pm

This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

He always ordered the same dish.

When you found something special why would you bother working your way through the menu?
The cafe was incredibly loud; the noise was coming mostly from the bar area.
It was one of those cafes that tried to have it both ways, and the bright young things who worked in the city were only too pleased to oblige.
Earlier in the week it had been quieter, but come Friday night and the noise registered on the Richter scale.
It hurt his ears when he first walked in but amazingly, he got used to it very quickly.
Humans can be very adaptable.
The cafe had an excellent red wine ‘by the glass.’
He got to know the staff very well after his first visit. They were friendly and looked after him really well.
For forty years he had dined as one half of a couple, but now his wife had gone away and he was dining alone.
It was a strange experience at first, but like most things in life, he got used to it.
His routine was to eat at the cafe and then go wandering through the city in search of coffee.
When he found an interesting spot he would sit, sip and read. Sometimes he would write when the mood took him.
The drive home took about an hour preceded by a short walk through the park.
Counting possums along the way was part of the ritual.
A long drive, late at night is not a hardship. There is time to think and opportunities to imagine.
At the end of the journey there would be excited fluffy white dogs and a warm bed.
Life was good.