This is the fifth chapter of a work in progress (WIP) titled . . . in a love song.
How the only woman who could give him a hitch in his normal attitude and response to her could appear almost bashful in thanking him for putting up her new screen doors baffled him. But she did. He saw tears in her eyes as she inspected them. But she recovered quickly and almost teased him with her remark, “Whenever the right one catches you, you’ll make a fine husband, Mr. Rivers.” And then it was his turn to feel embarrassed.
He cleaned up and set on his way to The Tavern to enjoy Pet’s cooking even if it would be just a cheeseburger and fries. Who was he kidding? He hoped to feast on her pretty face and get a warm reception from her stealth façade. Of all the local information the guys had pumped into him in the short time he’d been here, not one of them had mentioned this pretty gal who worked behind the bar. There’d been plenty of chatter about some other women in town, like Leann, one of the checkers at the supermarket who apparently had a fondness for construction workers.
It was 2:30 when he walked in, the jukebox playing rock ‘n’ roll tunes from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Not as loud as last evening. The place had a healthy crowd for a Saturday afternoon with several tables occupied. He strode toward the bar and straddled a stool next to his coworker Keith who looked like a hangover danced in his head.
“Bud, you look like you shoulda left when I did,” Dale kidded.
Keith looked over with a sly smile after taking a sip of his tomato beer. “And miss all the fun?” His smile turned into a grin.
“Hmm. Yeah, hard to pass up a little fun, huh? Gotta pay the price, though. You know it ain’t free.”
“Never is, is it?” And he laughed a bit like that much movement hurt.
“Here ya go, Trouble. Hope it goes down easy cuz it won’t come up that way.” Pet turned to Dale after setting a plate full of sunny-side up eggs, hash browns, sausage, and toast in front of Keith. “What can I get for you?” Her smile was confident this afternoon.
“Cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke, please. Heavy on the onions.” He looked her in the eyes when he ordered, and she didn’t flinch.
“No reason not to,” he replied with a subtle smile. That comment got to her ever so slightly.
“Heavy on the onions it is then.” She turned to get his Coke and when she placed it in front of him, she said, “You got a name?”
“I’ve been called my fair share of them, but Dale Rivers is my given name.” He held out his hand to her.
“Patricia Edison. No relation.”
He smiled at her quip. Her grip was firm, and he didn’t let go for an extra beat. “Nice to meet you, Patricia.”
For that extra beat, her confidence wavered as it had last night. Her hand was soft, and it felt good in his. He let go. She disappeared into the kitchen.
“Whoa, dude. What’s up with that?” Keith seemed to have surfaced from his haze.
“Pet don’t talk to just anybody like that. She makes herself off limits to most everyone.”
“How come you guys never mentioned anything about her? You filled me in on all these other chicks around town but not her. Why?”
Keith stared at his eggs for a moment. “Pet’s different.” He took a forkful and shoved it in his mouth, chewed, and then downed a big swig of the red beer.
“She’s a Cadillac. Know what I mean? There’s some nice cars out there, but you know you got somethin’ special with a Cadillac.”
Dale could see Keith was dead serious. Respect in his tone. Keith kept eating, staring down at his food.
“Like an El Dorado?”
“Like a classic shiny red El Dorado only belonged to one owner its whole life.” Keith pushed his plate away and downed the rest of his drink. As he tugged his wallet out of his back pocket, he said, “Word of advice? Don’t go there. See ya Monday.” He put a twenty on the counter and walked out.
Dale turned slightly on his stool and watched him leave.
Father, help me with every written word, every story, to honor you. I thank you for all of them. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.