Chapter 22 ~ A Reunion of Sorts
Joe and Sam left room 212, took the elevator down to the lobby and walked through the lobby. Sam dressed in slightly worn jeans, and a long sleeve blue denim shirt, frayed at the cuffs and missing the top button, stopped and grabbed a banana and an orange. He whispered to Joe, “You gotta git the good stuff before the crowd gits here. I got three of those kinds of tea supposed to help you sleep. Me, I never have trouble going to sleep because I got a clear conscience. I got em for you.”
“What makes you think my conscience isn’t clear?” asked Joe.
“I ain’t the person running away from a woman I love and my work. You’re running away from your responsibility and chasing a shadow you’ll never catch.”
“Let it go, Sam. Let’s get dinner and see what Donna has to say,” said Joe opening the doors to the BMW.
Joe pulled out on Broadway, took a right and headed toward the Mississippi River. Nothing was said between the two men on the short ride to Riverside Grill. The parking lot was nearly three-quarters full when Joe pulled in. Sam punched Joe in the bicep.
“What did I tell you about that?” barked Joe.
“You think I look okay? I held my good looks over time, I don’t think I’ve aged too much. What do you think?”
“I didn’t know you back then, I can’t judge,” said Joe.
“How old do you think I am. I mean, go by my looks,” said Sam.
Joe wanted to say eighty. Instead, he said, “You look about fifty-one if you’re a day,” said Joe hoping Sam wasn’t younger.
“That’s what I thought. I’m sixty-seven and I look damn good for my age. It’s because I live a good life,” said Sam.
Joe didn’t respond, he undid his seatbelt and opened the car door. He stepped out of the BMW and was hit by the sweet smell of barbecue. “You’re wasting time, Sam. Can you smell the barbecue?”
Sam said, “If Donna said it was good, it’ll be good.”
Sam twisted the rearview mirror around and said, “Donna’s gonna have to take it or leave it.”
Joe said, “It’s been twenty-five years, Sam. Donna may have changed. Don’t get your hopes too high.”
They walked inside. Two girls who looked they were students at the nearby community college stood behind a podium, chatting. Sam nudged Joe aside and walked up to the girls, “We want a table where Donna is the waitress.”
Both girls looked into the dining room, then they looked down at a plastic map of the seating area, each table had a number. Her tables are full, all of our wait staff are very good, how’s about Melanie, she will take care of you.”
Sam said, “I want a table where Donna will wait on us.”
Joe came up next to Sam, and flashed his smile, “Sam’s an old friend. We’re just passing through town. Donna knows were coming. I bet if you tell her Sam and Joe are here she’ll be happy to pick up the other table. Joe said pulling out his wallet and taking a five out, “Here’s five dollars for Melanie for losing the tip. Will that work?”
The two girls, now both smitten with Joe, nodded and together said, “Uh huh.”
Joe and Sam sat opposite each other at a table against a window facing the Mississippi River. Sam looked around the restaurant. A male wait staff came over, brought them menus, and said drinks?”
Joe said, “We requested Donna as are server.”
“Not a problem. I’m just helping out. Donna’s in back putting together a tray.”
Joe said, “Thanks, do you have a local brew?”
“You’re kidding, right? Or, you’re new in town. We have Bud regular and Bud Light.
Sam said, “Bring us two Bud regulars and do you have any homemade bread?”
“Be right out. Donna will over shortly to take your order.”
Sam stared at Joe, “Stow your uppity attitude about beer. Bud’s been around a lot longer than you and it’ll be here when all the other crap that’s posing for beer disappears. I’m hungry, how about we get the feast for two? You kin have the chicken, leave me all the ribs and corn bread.”
“Not a problem, Sam,” said Joe.
A moment later, a woman’s voice from ten feet away, “If it isn’t the most handsome man I ever seen? Sam Fidler, you old coot, you haven’t changed in twenty years.”
Sam stood out of his chair and turned and stared at the woman smiling at him. Her hips were wider. Her hair color changed from blond to brunette. The ponytail gone and replaced with shorter hair style. Her breasts were bigger than he remembered but so was her waist. Sam said, “Donna, how do keep looking so good every man wants to take you home?”
Joe watched Sam and was fascinated. Sam didn’t bat an eye. Surely this wasn’t the same woman Sam knew twenty years ago, but he didn’t let on. And, neither did she. He wished he knew more people like these two.
“Tell that to Harry. We been together for ten years. Harry says he happy with his common law marriage, but I keep working on him.” Donna said, “Who is this stud sitting at your table? Hi, I’m Donna. OMG, you look just like him.” Donna put her hand on the back of the chair to steady herself.
After a moment, she said, “Let’s go in the back. I’d just as soon keep everything private. There’s a place we all can eat and talk. I’ll have Joel, he’s the young man who took your drink order, cover for me. I’ll tell you all I know about your father.”