Sunday, February 25, 2007

A little more to read with her coffee.

As soon as the lids were on the coffee pots she unlocked the front door. The first customer usually had to wait for their coffee, but it was always delivered with a small glass of ice because it would be too hot to drink. When the first pot came off of the burner another went on in order to keep up with demand. Etta often wondered how so few could drink so much.

Etta unlocked the door and turned the faded paper sign in the window from closed to open just as the neon Coke Cola clock hands divided the face in half. Another day at The Cove had begun. She walked back to the counter where the Indian boy they called Sunny was pouring ice in the cooler under the front counter. Sunny had a regular routine and he followed the same order of chores just as Etta had taught him. He filled the ice chest first, put the fresh produce by the sink to be washed and then he made a bucket of ammonia water and washed the glass in the front door, the window on the front of the cafe and then the long mirror that went down the side wall of the dinning room. Etta could not stand an eatery with dirty windows and it was never a concern at The Cove.

The bell over the door announced the first customer of the day. Douglas took off his cream colored cowboy hat and walked to the counter. “Morning Miss Etta,” he said with a voice well seasoned with weariness.

“Douglas, what can I get ya son?” Etta had watched Ruth and Douglas come up from little kids. Douglas would often sit on the front steps of the house and watch Stokie and the crew as they framed the houses across the street. Douglas had been given strict orders by his mother that the front steps were as close as he was to get to the lots where the men were working.

“Cup coffee I guess, are the biscuits up yet?”

“I expect they are, one to wash and one to dry, as usual?” she asked.

“I reckon, I do seem to eat the same thing over and over, don't I?”

“I think we all do,” Etta said. “Douglas, you don't mind me saying so, you look like the south end of a load of bad luck. You feelin' okay?” Even though Etta knew that he wasn't a little boy any more she still felt a little sorry for him since he had no momma to ask after him.

“That's a good way of sayin' it Miss Etta, that's about how I feel. I haven't slept for more than a few hours back to back for two months or better. I walk the floor for hours, I'm worn out.” the exhaustion was evident in Douglas' bloodshot eyes. Each morning when he looked in the mirror to shave his eyes looked like two Missouri strawberries mashed flat.

“You feel alright otherwise?” asked Etta as she put a bowl with one split biscuit covered with heavy sausage gravy in front of him. She set a small plate next to the bowl with another biscuit on it with a buckeye size piece of butter in a cup with an equal serving of strawberry jam next to it. “There you go, one to wash and one to dry, coffee's about done, hon'”

“Other than being worn out, I feel fine.”

“You eatin' a good meal over there at your place or are you eatin' like a bachelor? You know, fried eggs, bacon, sliced tomatoes, stale bread? When have you had a vegetable Douglas?”

“Last Sunday, Miss Etta. I cooked a pt of green beans with jowl meat and onions, I put some new potatoes in em and baked off a ham steak like Mother used to do.”

“If you're doin' that this Sunday, Stokie and I will be around after church. You wanna bake the pie or should I bring one?” Etta and Douglas laughed but Etta knew that Douglas wasn't afraid of the grocery store or a four burner Roper Range. Ruth had told Etta once that Douglas fried a better pan of chicken than their mother did. Etta had told her that she bet that was true, she knew that their mother never took a prize for her cooking, but the woman could sew.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Barb said...

I finally had my cup of coffee...what's next? Are we at the beginning of this? I feel like I'm watching a movie. Thanks, Don.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Don Jerome said...

this isn't the beginning, it's more toward the middle, but it's what I hope is a future best seller, or at least somewhere on the top ten.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Duane said...

Don,

I am so greatful that you share these wonderful stories with us here in this space. You create masterpieces out of mere words.

Since I have not said it before, please know that it applies to all the thoughtful things you have observed from perch high overhead...Thank you, Don!

2:03 PM  
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