#37

Murray’s was full. It was late, near midnight. Cigarette smoke hung in the air, no one cared. They all had them dangling from their mouths. The waitresses were quick on their feet, comfortable shoes, hair pulled back, pockets in their aprons for pens, notepads. The stools were all occupied, I took a booth and slid into the faux leather seat close to the window to watch the rain outside. On the juke box, Roy Orbison.

Waitress: pancakes, no butter, extra crispy bacon. More coffee honey?

I was headed west on Route 9, going nowhere fast. I had been on the road a few days, nothing in particular in mind. I suppose I’m what some folks call a drifter, but I had a house, I just didn’t want to be there.

Across the room, men in hats, women in dresses, heels. It was the time of day where you were either eating to soak up the booze or to stay awake longer and drink more booze. No one much cared if you ate breakfast or dinner — they served both round the clock.

The bill was honest, I left a tip that was generous. Around by the gents, a bank of pay phones, several occupied, one by a woman in tears, hanker-chief in her other hand. Her light yellow dress hit just above the knee and her legs were overly tan, bronzed, she must have been in the sun this past week. She looked at me as I passed, and turned her head quickly, ashamed, not wanting to engage. Hiding her puffy red eyes. It’s ok, I thought, we’ve all been there.

Later, the sun rose as I approached a t-junction, the end of Route 9. To the left, Route 112, headed south. To the right, Route 114, north. Straight ahead were mountains, still snow capped. The window was down, the air smelled of jasmine. I made a U-turn and realized that I’d never seen the other end of Route 9 and took off, nothing particular in mind.