I Would Love Again

BY DR. AGONSON

Love had deserted me. I moved only as an animal, as an empty body moves. A puppet on a string. Propelled by my desires, I wandered out of the rain into the warm glow of a diner. I was caught unprepared for the storm, and thus shed my thin and dripping jacket on some antiquated coat rack by the door. A heavy green garment was there, the sleeves so filled with stuffing one might wonder if the arms were left in it. The plaid lining looked soft and inviting.

I still shivered with the cold, and glancing around, saw no one. Slipping this stranger’s coat on, I enjoyed the warmth a moment. Behind the counter, an old waitress glowered at me. Old wasn’t the right word. She was little over thirty, but thirty years can be spent in ten, if you’re unlucky; I think she was. Her skin sagged about her face as if too tired to try anymore, as if it had given up on her. I returned the coat, and felt my nipples tighten with the cold.

Walking up to the bar, I was addressed, “What will it be, Love?” The voice was as coarse as her face would suggest, and you felt every cigarette she had ever smoked mixed in her tone.

“Coffee,” I said.

“It ain’t good,” she informed.

“Just make it hot,” I pleaded.

“I’ll nuke it, then,” was her reply, and turning, stomped away behind a pair of double doors that swung back and forth two or three times before settling.

Trying a stool, I found it hard and uninviting, but considering the same maker was behind each seat here, decided to stay. My clothes stuck to my body, and a viscous draft would blow through them and cut me like a knife. I prayed the coffee would come. Beside me was a greasy plate, a fork and knife resting along its center. I could spy a few bills hidden under the napkin by leaning my head toward the counter. Glancing once more toward the double doors, I quickly snatched the napkin and the money under it.

Pocketing a generous five dollars, I threw the napkin back toward the plate. It fluttered open as a butterfly, and landing, opened its wings to reveal a few scratched lines. Reaching over, I rotated this autograph, orienting the words to my prospective. The penmanship was hurried, scratched out in places, and unfinished. As I puzzled at the phrase, the waitress returned, a steaming cup in her hand. With a clank, the porcelain struck the countertop, and the woman began to clean up the plate. She grabbed the napkin before I could stop her, and crinkling it up, took the whole mess away.

Staring at the cup, I thought of the words hastily written down. Throwing the five dollars on the counter, I hurriedly returned to the coatrack. For a moment, I touched the soft and warm garment with the inviting lining and gentle green exterior, but then taking ahold of my simple black coat, I rushed out the door into the rain.

I would love again.

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