Sunday in the Diner with Orville on the Mississippi river

Sunday in the Diner with Orville on the Mississippi River

A guy walks into Joe K.’s diner for Sunday lunch and a voice calls out, “Join us!”

Normally the guy sits at the counter, but the speaker is none other than Quilt Queen and seated next to her is her handsome devil husband farmer Orville. I’m the guy.

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Quilt Queen inquires.

I tell her I’ll be sitting at home, can of beans at the ready. For all the local “friends” on Facebook out there, I don’t really know any of them, haven’t met them in person, and so far, no one has asked me to join them.

“We are going to the grandkids’ house in St. Louis. Used to be I’d cook for a week, now we just drive and eat.”

I tell Orville to bring me home a piece of pie, to which his wife opines, “We choose the life we live, Gene.” True dat—sort of. Bev isn’t ill meaning so much as she’s espousing Missouri Synod Lutheran philosophy. Her husband looks on noncommittedly, knowing where his bread and butter comes from, not wishing to rock the boat. And before you critics out there chastise me, yes, I just wrote a mixed metaphor.

Happy people were all around us, some of them in yoga pants, a fact I record for history. Quilt Queen had a hamburger, Orville eggs, sausage, and American fries, and I, guy, had blueberry pancakes. “Eat you all the taters you want,” Orville said. “He only eats half,” his wife said, and that included the sausage, so I ended up eating that, taters, and pancakes.

In the news (no, we didn’t discuss the Red Wave), the couple’s church has acquired a new pastor, and he will be installed next Sunday with much pomp and circumstance including some red robed bishops.

“Free food,” Orville said. “Why don’t you come with us?” I like the phrase “free food,” but the thought of hanging out with red robed bishops seemed a steep price to pay.

“I’m a heathen,” I said.

“Oh, we got much worse than you,” Quilt Queen says, not a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

I can’t imagine worse than me. Who can beat me for slovenliness, malaise, libtardness, perspicacity, fanfaronade, and horror of horrors, vituperative verisimilitude?

“Worse than me?”

“Way, way, way worse,” Orville says.

And here I thought I was the Lord High Heathen of the universe. A shrink once asked me to tell her the worst thing I ever did. I did. Oh, I hear that all the time, she said.

It is deflating to know your perverse thoughts are thought by the entire world thus you are not special, thank you Charles Darwin.

“Well, we got to go, Orville,” Quilt Queen said. “Family visiting today, and I need to tidy up. Nice to see you, Gene.”

And off they walked, and I watched and remembered other times. I speared a lone blueberry drenched in syrup and half a bite of American fry. A baby girl in a highchair grabbed some scrambled egg and tossed it to the floor, to the delight of the crowd, and she laughed and laughed, having not heard yet about perverse adults or Red Waves or yoga pants.

I walked outside and shivered. Baby, it was cold outside.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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