I got back to the Thru-Way Diner at five in the morning, the day after Easter. It was pouring and the Corvair leaked where the convertible top met the windshield. A slow but steady drip that fell on my right knee, which was now numbed from the cold weight of wet 501s.
The car had made it without a problem. That was very good. I still had four hundred and twenty-three bucks in my pocket, also good. And one and a half packs of cigarettes, including the one cradled in my hand as I ran limping across the parking lot. When I got to the door I paused for one long drag, and watched the wind drive ripples through the puddles. I doubted it was much over forty degrees. Too cold for spring.
From the booth and my perpetual smoke cloud I surveyed the scene. Five a.m. mixes early-rising go-getters with the flotsam of endless night. Half the crowd scrubbed clean, the other, me included, in the remnant clothes, smells, and attitudes of yesterday. At this point no one's off the late shift yet. It's just the last of those partying too long, those just sneaking out of girlfriends' beds, those with no place left to go.
With a double fried-egg sandwich before me and coffee splashing into my gut I could count what was against me. It seemed like a long list that had finally chased me from my new life attempt in Virginia. But all those things I tried to count came down to one. I began to whistle "If I only had a brain," softly, so that only I could hear.© 2004-2005 by Ira Socol__________________________