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He had lived in this fashionable (read over-priced) neighborhood long enough to know the ins and outs of The Parking Game reflexively. The Green Signs read “2-HR Parking, Except by Permit  Mon-Fri 8 AM-6 PM”.  Here it was Friday Morning at 9:57, The Parking Enforcement People were lurking, ready to pounce, when they found her car, started it and motored off to the diner on Broad.

The diner was one of those places that was almost too “Home Town”. Politicians would show up there for grits, eggs, country ham and a photo-op, eager to show that they were of the Common Folk, despite being multimillionaires. But the food was good, the coffee was drinkable and the waitresses’ tattoos were interesting in their own right. As they walked from the car to the diner, he took her hand. She gripped his as if this little intimacy was completely natural.

Karen was working this morning. “You again?” she teased him  “Got your Rolaids under the counter all ready, Darlin’.” She pointed to an empty booth. And they sat down.

“What are you doing off on Friday?” she asked. “I know. You work from home and set your own hours.”

“Bingo. How about you?”

“I’m a nurse. This is a long weekend”

“Where do you work?”

“Orthopedics. Lots of old ladies with hip replacements. Spinal fusions. You know. And what do you do at home, when you claim to be working?”

“I’m a writer, but I’m only doing it until I can get a part-time job waiting tables.  I’m one of those lucky stiffs who has a trust fund. I keep quiet about the money. People think I’m a vet with bad PTSD, so bad I can’t work. I say nothing to stop them thinking that. I’m a vet all right, Marines, Iraq, Fallujah. But my head’s on pretty straight. I know plenty who aren’t so lucky. I volunteer at the veterans’ outreach.”

She looked at him, trying not to be too obvious in her approval. “This may be the last unmarried man out there not totally stuck on himself”, she thought.

For a few minutes, they discussed ordering the salt herring and decided to get them. That they were salty and fried were bad ass enough reasons to get them.  Both secretly rejoiced at being on the 10 Most Wanted List of The Food Police.

Suddenly, in the middle of the small talk, he grew quiet and looked her straight in the eyes. It was one of those scary moments when she knew what he was thinking and he, in turn,  was aware of her thoughts.

“This is nice.”

“Yeah, nice”

As they ate, she took off her Dansko clog and rubbed her foot on his shin, moving to his calf muscle. He smiled. He swore to himself that this was the sexiest thing any woman had ever done to him.

When they had finished and he had paid, they walked out. She reached in her purse, took out the Camel pack, looked at it as if that camel had told her to fuck off, and then tossed them in the trash barrel at the corner.  She looked at him and said. “Have you ever had one of those moments when you know you’ve had enough?”

To be continued

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