I was lifting plates off the big circular tray onto table muber three. I looked over my shoulder at the fat man seated at the counter. I had never seen him before. "Yes sir, one minute, please...and you had the cheeseburger with the side order of coleslaw, right? Enjoy your meal." I walked behind the counter and set down the tray. I poured the man his coffee. It was a slow night. I'd been working at the diner every other day for a month now, taking turns with Sandy Purpura, the regular waitress, whose husband had just returned from wherever it was he'd been for the past year. So at least for a while she didn't have to work so much. I was saving money - I had big dreams of going to Hollywood to meet movie stars. I didn't make much, of course, but it seemed important. By now I knew most of the people I waited on, who liked extra ketchup on their fries, who liked a little lemon in their coke.
"Hey, do you think could I have some cream in this?" The man at the counter was calling again. I looked at him - he must have been a trucker, in his dark jeans, old leather jacket and shadowed face, though what a trucker would be doing in out-of-the-way Lake Henry I couldn't have guessed. His first two cups had been black.
"Oh, of course, sir," I said, bringing him the little silver pitcher. "Sorry." I wiped the counter and began filling the napkin holders. There were only five people in the diner: the trucker man, Mr. Klahevka, who worked in the tailor shop next door and stopped in every evening for dinner, and a couple from Groversville with a little daughter. They'd told me they were on their way to visit relatives in Marcy, an hour away. I was very interested in new people that came in, even though their stories were never terribly exciting. The little bell on the door chimed and Mr. and Mrs. Winslet came in and sat down at the table. They always came in at the same time, sat at the same table and ordered the same thing. I put down the napkins, went into the kitchen and told Rita they were here so she'd start the hot chocolate warming, and walked over to them. "Hello Mr. Winslet, Mrs. Winslet. How are things today?"
"Why, just fine, just fine, thank you dear, just fine, wouldn't you say, Wilma?" He looked from me to his blue-haired wife.
"Oh, yes Wilford, I would say, I would. Now, dear, how is your father? You know, I remember he used to come and play ball with our William. Can you imagine that? That was long before your time, you know!" She had a very good memory of my father playing ball with her son. Better than my father's actually.
"Now Wilma, I remember when this girl was born, I do! Time flies, is all I can say."
"It certainly does, oh yes, it certainly does. But this girl's in a hurry, Wilford." She smiled sweetly.
"Oh yes, yes she is. Well, you know, I think I'd like a piece of cherry pie today. How does that sound?"
"Sounds fine, Mr. Winslet. And you, ma'am?"
"I was thinking about a bit of cheesecake, if that's all right."
"Of course. I'll bring that right out to you, okay?" I started to return to the counter.
"Oh, excuse me Miss, one more thing, if you don't mind?" I smiled at him again. "I think we'd each like a cup of hot cocoa."
"Of course, Mr. Winslet." They both thanked me kindly and I left them, checking on the Groversville people as I passed them. Behind the counter I cut the Winslets' desserts, then wtote out Mr. Klahevka's check. I gave it to him and refilled his coffee. "
"Let me entertain you, let me make you smile."