The Diner

Gavin McCloud looked straight ahead as he drove on the interstate. He tried to concentrate on his surroundings but his mind kept going back to the scene he’d just witnessed. He still couldn’t comprehend it.

Shaking his head, Gavin concentrated on the vehicles around him. He didn’t want to be one of those reckless drivers who put other people’s lives in danger because they should not have been on the road. Still, he worried that’s exactly what would happen. At the first sign of a diner, he pulled over.

He looked at the small trailer that housed Bernie’s Burger Bar. He barely remembered the days when people actually lived in something so small. Now it was being used to feed a small crowd. Looking inside the window, Gavin noted the tables were full. He hoped there would be room at the counter.

Unfolding his long legs, Gavin stood up. He felt a twinge of discomfort in his right hip. “You’re getting old, Gavin,” he said out loud. With that, the handsome 55-year-old made his way inside. Spotting an empty stool at the counter, he took it.

A waitress arrived almost instantly, handing him a menu and a genuine smile. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” she cooed in a sweet voice.

“I was out driving and spotted the place,” Gavin explained. “It looked inviting. The food must be good. You’re packed to the rafters.”

“Best food in Virginia,” the waitress bragged. He could tell from the tone of her voice that she believed in what she was saying.

“Well, what do you recommend?” Gavin winked at the waitress in a friendly, non-threatening manner. The action seemed to please the plump, middle-aged blonde.

“Bernie’s is known for its burgers, but all the food is good. I personally like the meatloaf.”

“Meatloaf it is, then, with a cup of java.” Gavin handed the menu back and looked around the diner.

As the waitress toddled off to put in his order, Gavin watched the people as they ate. There was a family of four seated in the back. The kids were laughing and carrying on, making their parents smile. Gavin remembered such days with his children.

A couple of truck drivers were whispering dirty jokes just a little too loudly. The waitress walked over and whispered in their ears to “tone it down”. Gavin smiled at their embarrassment.

A nervous woman sat on the stool next to him. Something was obviously bothering her too. She looked as though she could jump right out of her skin. Gavin felt for her.

After checking everyone out, Gavin’s mind went back to the scene he was trying to forget. He’d gone home early to surprise his wife, Gina, with a matinee and dinner. When he drove into the driveway, he noticed the car of his best friend parked out front.

Worried that something was wrong, Gavin hurried into the house and called Gina’s name. When she didn’t answer, he went searching. The last room he checked was the bedroom. He heard water running and laughing sounds from the adjoining bathroom. The voices belonged to Gina and Stan, his friend.

‘Why would she have an affair after all this time?’ The question plagued Gavin then and now but he found he had no answer. As far as he knew, the two of them were happily married. He’d gotten no vibes or other indication that his wife was displeased with him or their life together.

“Here you go. Eat up.” The waitress put a huge platter of meatloaf and mashed potatoes in front of Gavin. It looked delicious. It tasted even better.

“What’s the verdict?” The blonde smiled at her new friend.

“It’s excellent,” Gavin admitted. “It’s even better than my wife makes and that’s saying a lot.”

“So where is she?” The waitress chirped the question obviously expecting an answer.

“At home, I’m afraid.” The look on Gavin’s face must have given him away. When he looked up again, the blonde was looking very serious.

“There’s trouble in paradise?”

Without knowing why, Gavin nodded his head. “I found her in the bathroom with my best friend.”

“They were doing it in the bathroom?” The waitress’s eyes grew big.

“I guess. They were giggling,” Gavin mumbled.

“So you didn’t actually see them doing anything wrong?”

“No, but I heard it.” Gavin felt like he was being attacked.

“You heard them making love?” The waitress pressed the question.

“No. They were laughing,” he reiterated.

“So based on laughter you are willing to assume the worst of the woman you love?” The blonde put her hands on her hips and made an angry sound.

“I don’t think I want to talk about this anymore,” Gavin stated firmly.

“Fine, but let me just leave you with this. If you are going to break up your marriage, maybe you should make certain of the reason first.” With that, the blonde walked away into a back room.

Shortly afterwards, a redhead appeared in front of him. “How’d you get that plate?” She looked at Gavin with utter confusion. “I didn’t bring it to you.”

“No you didn’t,” Gavin answered. The blonde waitress brought it.”

The redhead stared at him. “I’m the only waitress here,” she returned. “There is no one else. I came over to apologize for being late in taking your order. As you can see, we’re busy today.”

Gavin dropped his fork and looked up. “I’m telling you a middle-aged blonde lady waited on me. She had a uniform on just like yours. Are the two of you playing some kind of game?”

“Bernie,” the redhead called out. “Do we have a blonde waitress working here?” The waitress turned to look in the direction of the cook.

“There’s only you, honey bunch. You know that.” Bernie answered, looking confused.

“I’m sorry,” Gavin said as he pulled money out to pay his tab. Then he turned and left the diner. Getting into his car, he did a U-turn and head home. Gavin knew with certainty that what happened at the diner was a warning. He was about to throw away the best thing in his life based on assumption.

Two hours later, he pulled up in front of his home. Gina came running out to meet him.

“Gavin, where have you been? I called everyone. No one knew where you were. Stan helped me look for you. He came over today to fix the shower so he waited to have a few beers with you. When you didn’t show, we got worried.”

“Stan fixed the shower?” Gavin started laughing out loud. “He fixed the shower?”

“Yes, honey. Stan fixed the shower. It doesn’t leak anymore. What is with you?”

“Just this,” Gavin stated as he grabbed his beautiful wife and kissed her passionately. “I love you more than life itself. Don’t ever leave me.”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Gina giggled. “At least not for another 30 years or so.

Gavin swept Gina up in his arms and headed inside, knowing with certainty that he had a guardian angel.

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