There is just something about a girl with blue eyes.
|The cafe was crowded and bustling with people, but one girl sat alone in the corner, sipping her coffee and watching the people around her. She’d been sitting there for hours, it seemed, and the waitress just kept bringing her more coffee and refilling the creamer with milk. The girl in the corner was a nondescript little thing, perhaps early twenties with longish hair somewhere between dirty blond and muddy brown. Her hair was constantly in her eyes, which were, when someone actually noticed, a brilliant, cobalt blue.
She had been sitting there watching and listening to the weekday lunch crowd. She’d seen Jimmy Parker come in with Timmy and Davie Bailey and order up Casey’s Double-er-Nothin’ Cheeseburger and fries special. They’d given the new waitress a hard time, and with her flaring red hair, her mottled face, when blushing, was most unattractive. She was a determined young woman though and kept on smiling as she tried her best on her first day of a job she badly needed. Jimmy joked his way down the aisle between tables on his way to the men’s room. He never saw the girl in the corner on his way in or out. He did tell Floyd to move his chair out of the way before rudely pushing by.
Floyd and Frieda Andersen sat at the table in front of her and ate tuna fish sandwiches while they mulled over what the undertaker had said about burial costs and plot sizes. They discussed the benefits of cremation over a shared slice of Casey’s Boston Crème Pie. They wondered if they should still plan on finally taking that trip or put it off even longer. Floyd took Frieda’s hand at that point and said softly, “Sweetheart, you’ve been waiting fifty years for your honeymoon and we are not putting it off any longer.” She smiled at him the same way she had fifty years ago and it made his heart glad. They lingered over coffee pondering why it cost so much to die.
Lila Parker Wiggens, Jimmy’s little sister, came in with her three boys and the new baby. She and Justin had finally had the girl they wanted. The three boys were noisy and rambunctious, knocking over the first glass of water before the new waitress could even set down the second one. Aged six, five and three, they were a handful, and would be a handful for the rest of their lives. But then, they were miniature versions of their daddy, and Lila wouldn't have wanted them any other way.
The baby, Sara, had white-blond hair, vacant, washed-out blue eyes, and the beginnings of a quick and ready smile. It didn’t matter to Lila that the doctors thought that Sara would never see and that something had happened while she was carrying Sara to make her blind. Sara was her love, her daughter and that was all that mattered.
Somehow, Lila got the three boys settled with crayons and placemats, moved all knock-over-able objects out of their way, settled the baby with a cookie, and was finally able to take a deep breath.
She looked over at the girl in the corner and smiled. The girl smiled back and for the briefest of moments, Lila had the impression that the girl’s eyes were the oddest shade of blue she’d ever seen. But before she could give it a second thought, a squabble broke out over the red crayon. Once again, she was completely involved with her three darling boys.
Down at the other end, she could see Terry LaPlant sitting with Susie Spindleton. The kids used to joke and call her Simpleton. She, perhaps living up or down to the name, wasn’t very bright, but what she was, was nice. She had a ready smile, would help anyone and, believe anything. This included her believing all the lies Terry would tell her about where he’d been or why she deserved what she got. Even though it was quite warm outside, and dim inside the diner, Susie sat bundled up in a turtleneck sweater and wore large sunglasses.
The new waitress, Cindy, according to the black marker written nametag, asked the girl in the corner if she needed anything else. The girl looked up and asked if she might have another cup of coffee.
"Sure thing," bubbled the waitress and bustled off with ankles swelling over the sides of her shoes.
After dropping off more coffee and milk to the girl in the corner, and taking Lila’s big order, Cindy cleared the table where that awful Jimmy Parker and company had sat. She picked up the fifty-cent tip and sighed. Should have been at least two dollars, three given the teasing. She’d tried to be a good sport.
Down at the far end, an argument erupted. Terry was yelling at Susie who sat there, still agreeing with everything Terry said. Susie headed towards the ladies' room after Terry told her to quit blubbering like a baby and go wash her face. The girl in the corner followed her in and simply laid a comforting hand on the shuddering shoulder of the crying girl. Their eyes met in the mirror after Susie dried her face and Susie wondered if the girl was wearing contacts; eyes couldn’t possibly be that blue!
Floyd and Frieda squeezed past Cindy as she carried out Lila’s order. Grilled cheese and chocolate milk for the boys, a salad and club for Lila and a warmed up bottle for baby Sara. The boys were all grubby hands reaching for their plates and Cindy smiled. She didn’t know what Lila did, but her boys were sweet, all three saying “Fank you” as she put down their plates. And the baby, Sara, was so sweet. Such a shame. And she thought she had problems, Cindy thought as she headed up front to cash out the Andersens.
Floyd paid for their lunch and handed Cindy a folded bill. As they were headed out of the restaurant, Frieda asked Floyd if he’d noticed that girl in the corner. “She had the prettiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen,” said Frieda as they walked out the door.
Cindy stuck the folded bill in her pocket along with her other tips and the eviction notice she’d been handed on the way out of her trailer as she left for work.
The girl in the corner stood up and stretched. She walked up to the counter to pay for her coffee. Cindy shook her head and smiled. “It’s on me. You only got coffee and you weren’t any trouble at all. Have a nice day!” She hurried into the kitchen before the girl could get out a word.
The girl with the cobalt blue eyes walked out of the diner and headed to her car. On her way out of town, she passed a police car sitting on the side of the road.
When Susie got home after lunch, she was all hot and sweaty from the walk. Trust Terry to make her walk and not give her a ride home. Susie headed into the shower. Standing naked in the bathroom, she just stared in the mirror in shock. All the bruises were gone! Not faded. Gone! Come to think of it, she hadn’t been aching so much since she’d been eating lunch. She took her shower and didn’t think about it again, until an hour later. Terry showed up with a shiner that was all purple and bright blue. He had bruises other places too, just like where she. . .
Floyd and Frieda arrived home to find a large box sitting on their front porch. Opening it, they found an envelope sitting on top of a set of luggage. The envelope contained two tickets to Hawaii. The luggage was bright blue. It reminded Frieda of something ...but what? That girl’s eyes in the diner.
“Floyd, honey, have you ever seen that girl in the diner before today?”
“Nope, can’t say as I have,” he replied. “Do you think the kids did this for us?”
“No I don’t,” said Frieda smiling. “Let’s go pack for our honeymoon.”
Cindy finally got off work and sat on the back steps of the diner to count her tips. The folded bill had been a ten! Old Floyd was sweet, she thought, smiling tiredly. She took more money out of her pocket. What she could have sworn were ones, were all now tens and twenties. Her tips equaled the back rent on the trailer.
Shortly after that new girl in town, the one with the startling blue eyes, drove past him, Sheriff Dunlevy finished his coffee and decided to head out to the South Road. He hadn’t planned to head out there today, but something just kinda told him he should. He parked just beyond the stand of elm trees by Floyd’s back forty. He’d no sooner set his radar gun when Jimmy Parker and the Bailey boys blew past him doing at least seventy-five. Oh, he’d wanted to get those boys for a long, long time.
Siren screaming, Sheriff Dunlevy flew out from behind the trees and got close behind Jimmy’s souped-up old mustang. He knew the boys would have to stop as there was no way they’d make the turn where the road was flooded out at the edge of Floyd’s property.
When the Sheriff reached Jimmy’s car, he saw the open beer cans they’d been trying to hide. He smelled the pungent smoke that didn’t have a thing to do with Marlboros. He radioed for another car to transport his prisoners. Jimmy and the boys sat there-not even moving. Not saying a word. Just staring over Sheriff Dunlevy’s shoulder at the girl with the incredible blue eyes standing there.
Lila settled the boys in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Sara was asleep, had been since lunchtime. She hated having to wake her up for her doctor’s visit, and Lila decided to let her sleep until she was called. When she heard her name, Lila cautioned the boys to behave and picked up the sleeping Sara and brought her in to the doctor’s office. He was new in town and supposed to be very good with children. He came into the room and his eyes went right to Sara, who was just waking up.
“My goodness, young lady,” said the doctor to the little girl. “You have the most beautiful cobalt blue eyes I’ve ever seen.” Sara’s eyes moved and followed him as he crossed the room.