About to mentally start comparing how different his wife’s idea of ordinary was from his father’s idea, but that was the time that Kimmy came back asking to have her seat back. She also brought the coffee pot with her.
“If you are hungry, you are welcome to my French toast. Don’t want it to go to waste.” Richard said with a hand outstretched to where she was sitting.
Kimmy seated herself across from him, took off the green strip of paper binding: a knife, a spoon and a fork in a rolled thin paper napkin. She took up the fork and cut into the corner of the non-syruped toast, looking at him.
“I know you don’t want the whole story, but I was born thirty-two years ago today.”
“Happy birthday!” Kimmy smiled.
Richard couldn’t help but to smile back, that was the first time in a long time that he wished happy birthday and it’d been genuine and natural, “Thank you,” Richard inhaled, “you just made my day.”
Kimmy was chewing when he said that and she stopped and swallowed hard, “Are you going to tell me that you don’t have any friends?”
Richard nodded, as he poured more coffee into his mug.
“I am an only child, my mom left me and my father when I was seven. My father and I don’t see eye to eye.” Richard then added, “for ten years.”
Yes, he heard from him today but not to wish him a happy birthday. But to give Richard a tongue lashing, no doubt after a beer or two maybe even a shot of whiskey. His father told him over the phone when Richard was twenty or twenty-one he couldn’t remember just how old. He said, ‘that it was because of his unworkable ability that made him drink.’
The call came in at eight, Richard was up at and sitting in front of his computer. No caller ID or answering machine, so he always picked up.
“Hi, Dick!” His father announced into his ear.
“Hi, dad,” Richard sighed being called Dick was more of an insult, when it came out of the mouth of his father, then just another form of his name.
“Listen, deadbeat, you ain’t going to get your life together on your own. I’m going to help you do it.” Forced, “your mom had plans for you and so did I, at one time. There is a job, that even you can fuck up being the lazy shit that you are.”
Richard was rattled, more than ever before. He held his tongue with all his might for years, and now he couldn’t anymore.
“Dad, stop concerning yourself about me. You might not last to see something come of my life-”
Richard was overrode by his father laughing fully in his ear, “You actually think there is something coming, Jesus, you are more delusional than I apt you to be.”
“Fuck you!” Richard squeezed the receiver wishing to hang up, but didn’t want to be the first one to do it.
He heard his father take a swig of whatever he was drinking, “‘Fuck you’.” his father repeated the two words back to him thoughtfully, no doubt wearing a smirk, “If it is like that. You are dead to me.” The line went dead in Richard’s ear. He dropped the phone and buried his face in his hands.
Richard felt a soft touch on his arm, he jumped and was back in the café. With Kimmy staring at him with care and concern in her eyes.
“Yeah, sorry...Did you ask something?”
Kimmy considered him for a moment, nodded and repeated her unheard question, “How about your wife?” She pointed to his left hand that was wrapped around the mug, on his wedding finger was a faint white band. He unwrapped his hand from around his mug and brought it up under his chin folding his right hand over the other, then rested his chin there.
“That is why I am writing, well trying. She thought I was good.” To his own ears that phrase made no sense to him, obviously, hiding the truth, “I what to give her the best story.” His voice was slightly childish.
Kimmy looked at him sadly now, “How long have you been separated?”
Richard shook his head and squeaked out, “She died.”
Kimmy gasped, with eyes gleaming apologetically at him, “Sorry.”
“It happened five years ago.” Richard slid his elbows out to his sides till his arms were flat on the table, still hiding his left hand beneath his right. He allowed his eyes to fall on the legal pad beside his left elbow, nothing was coming.
He had talked, of course that would not be enough for any psychologist. Kimmy, fortunately, was a friend. Details were unnecessary, private. He was not ready to share them aloud, as to exactly what was torturing him.
“She encouraged me to write, I enjoyed making up stories and they were pretty good. She wanted me to try and get one published, but I was always comparing myself against the big name writers.” Richard shrugged and took up the pad, “after she died my ability went with her.” He flapped the pad.
“Well, have you tried talking ideas out loud to someone?” Kimmy hoped to help him.
Richard never had because he had no one to talk to, but now that the opportunity was at hand he was hesitant. If he were to do it, he might come to rely on the talking, which he didn’t want. Though, considering that he has gone five years without as much as a single spark for an opening line, he figured it couldn’t hurt.
“Okay, no, I have not. Do you think it will help?”
“Let’s try and see what comes of it.”
Kimmy slid the empty plate to the side and was in the process of grabbing for the legal pad from Richard. He held it against his chest, like a child holding his favorite toy. Kimmy pulled her hand back and looked at him.
“Sorry,” he lowered his head, ashamed.
“Not a problem,” she pulled out her order pad out of her apron. Then looked at him thoughtfully, she put the pad in front of her and laid her arms across it, “question for you first?”
“What genre are you seeking?”
“Well, she had a thing for horror and mysteries.” Richard met her eyes at that point.
“I have what you might be looking for,” she smiled. Lifting up the corner of the pad and let it flick back down, “if you want to hear the idea, that is?”
“Sure,” he had nothing to lose.
“I am sure that you have noticed the sign on the front door?”
Richard had just today it seemed, he nodded.
“And that the interior does not match the title?”
“It wasn’t on purpose, I assure you. The dull yellow color walls against what should be a deep blue. The title on it’s opening day was `The Sunny Café’.”