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The Fine Line 2011

May 8, 2012


Mirsky noticed them right off. They were standing patiently waiting for a table to be cleared when he walked in. He cut the line and took a seat at the counter and a few minutes later the waitress, waving her mop cloth, motioned them to a corner booth directly in his view.
What a view it was. She—about thirty with high, model style cheekbones, big innocent eyes with not so innocent long dark lashes, and henna colored hair hanging long in a planned disheveled look.  She wore a black satiny three buttons open blouse, and ‘watch my wiggle' black jeans with a fire red belt—no rings—no jewelry.
He. Naturally curly blond hair, short pressed pants with suspenders and an Izod striped shirt and Nike sneakers. Spotlessly clean hands and face. Age—about three years.
She didn't look the type to be in this off the highway diner. She neither looked at others nor noticed others looking at her. Good thing. Mirsky couldn't take his eyes off of her.  
Mirsky knew her. He had never met her, but he knew all about her. The boy too. Mirsky felt he always had the ability to study a person for a few minutes and do a biography.  This talent was inherited from walks with his mom when he was young. They invariably would pass someone Mirsky didn't know, but she and the passerby would nod their hellos, and as Mirsky and his mom would continue on, she would give him a short biographical profile with a touch of gossip about that person.  Ann Bigelow, look at her, my goodness!  She was voted class sophisticate.  No man was ever good enough for her and they were all after her.  It was said that she would work all year to save for a cruise hoping to land Mr. Rich.  Doesn't look so good for Miss Sophisticate.
His mom either had a wide circle of acquaintances or a very fertile imagination. Mirsky never knew which.
They were passing through on the way to her mother's house. Probably have about three more hours of driving to go. D.C., maybe Virginia. No ring.  Recently separated or divorced. Poor kid. Mirsky knew what it was like.
They order. His name's probably Brett.  Looks like a Brett.  Makes his bed every day and brushes his teeth without being reminded. Short grownup.
She sips her cocktail.
He tries his Coke.
She smiles at Brett.
Brett smiles back at Mother.
Brett has to call her Mother. Mother probably called him Brett honey. Mirsky wonders if Brett will ever slide into third and then decides he would. Looks like a three year old winner. 
Mother starts on salad.
Brett spoons his fruit cocktail.
Mother and Brett dab with napkins as choreographed.
As noisy as this diner is, Brett and Mother could have been in their own dining room.   They look only at their plates, each other, and now together at the main course being served.
Mother starts on her scallops.
Brett picks up a drumstick.
Kid's got an appetite. That isn't even a child's portion of fried chicken.
Mother leaves some scallops.
Brett leaves nothing but picked bones.  
Mother and Brett order.
Mother sips her coffee.
Brett starts on the strawberry ice cream.
Well, what do you know?  Brett can’t even eat half his dessert. The little grownup is rubbing his eyes. Funny—he doesn’t seem the type to crawl onto Mother's lap. He looks so cute and innocent all cuddled up and resting his head against Mother's bosom.  
Mother sips.
Brett yawns.
Mother touches Brett's head. 
Brett unbuttons two buttons on Mother's blouse.
Mother sips.
Brett nurses.
Mother and Brett both close their eyes.  
Mirsky almost spills his third cup of coffee.     
Then a guy dressed in jeans and a Red Sox baseball cap walks to the counter, blocking Mirsky’s view. Finally, stepping aside, he snaps his fingers and gives a whistle for the waitress, who turns and throws him a stare. He, oblivious to her hostility says, "Hey Hon, give me a tuna sandwich and a cup of coffee, black, to go."    
Baseball cap turns, and Mirsky watches as Mother opens her eyes at the sound of his whistle. He motions to Mother, who smiles and gently nudges Brett.  
Mother waves, buttons up, tosses some money on the table, and leads Brett by the hand over to the counter, where she stops and gives baseball cap a hug and a passionate kiss.  Picking Brett up, he says, "C'mon son, you can sleep in the car.  It's all fixed and we can make Boston by dark."  He hands his to-go order to Mother and off they go. 
Go figure, Mirsky thinks.  Grabbing his check, he waits his turn for the cashier and realizes there is something familiar about her—kind of a Midwest preacher's daughter look.  Mirsky figures her name to be Rachel or Rebecca, and that she’s working here to support her child born out of wedlock. She can’t go home because of the scandal it would cause her parents.
Mirsky pays the bill and looks at her nametag—Tami.  Poor kid, Mirsky thinks, had to change her name too. He shakes his head as he leaves the restaurant. 

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