Crack the Spine Issue 96 - Page 15

Barb Nativad A Slice of Pie at the Crawley Diner “Morning, hon. Cup of coffee?” Brenda asked. It was early, before the breakfast crowd rushed in, and the man at the counter was the only customer. An upside-down cup rested on a saucer in front of him. He turned it right side up. Brenda reached for the coffee pot and poured without overfilling or splashing. “You new in town?” she asked. “Passing through.” The man’s voice was deep and hollow, like his eyes. Brenda wondered if he had traveled all night. “Where’re you from?” “Here and there.” “Me, I’ve lived here all my life. Never even been to Chicago.” The man grunted. “That ain’t but a hundred miles east of here.” “Got no reason to leave. Everything I need is right here in Crawley. Kids, grandkids, friends, church, work.” “That so?” “It is,” she said with an emphatic nod that made her gray curls dance. “The early bird special’s printed on that card in front of you, or you can order something off the menu.” She pointed above the grill, to a black board on which white plastic letters spelled out both the breakfast and lunch entrees. “You do the cooking, too?” Brenda snorted. “College Boy’s the cook. Probably in the office studying. You know what you want, hon? I can holler for him.” “I’ll have pie.”