Opening the door, he simultaneously managed to drop into the seat, press the brake, insert the key into the ignition, and start the engine. “Finally,” he thought, “I’m outta here.” He turned up the Christmas music and began his drive to pick up some dinner.
He made believe that he hadn’t decided where to go, and ran down the list of options–mostly fast food. He knew, though, that he was only craving one thing. His own version of crack-cocaine. Or at least his own version of crack’s most common feature that the planet’s comedians can’t stop talking about.
Turning into the familiar parking lot, he avoided the enormous dip that surrounded the manhole cover. He got out of the car and noticed there were a couple people waiting in line as he pulled open the door to the restaurant.
He overheard the entire conversation between the current customer and the cashier. It was shocking. The lady had ordered a pizza other than pepperoni or cheese. “Wow!” he muttered, shaking his head in disbelief. The rarity of the moment caused the cashier to take a moment to place the order during which he noticed three more customers pile in behind him. For a restaurant bent on having its food hot and ready the growing line created a palpable angst. Finally, one lady near the end of the line couldn’t take it any longer and broke the awkward silence. Gripping her cigarette pack with the familiar three-finger cradle, she nervously packed the tobacco against her left hand with the recognizable staccato “thwack! thwack! thwack!” and said, “Man! This place is hoppin’ t’night!” The others rewarded her benevolence with wide-eyed nods and exhaling.
He smiled. Then he wondered if they knew how much he loved them.