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The Diner - Part 1Paradise, Texas; Population 451. Located about 65 miles northwest of Dallas, the speck of a town had more churches than people. I first encountered the aptly named villa on my way back to Houston from Oklahoma City, where I’d been stationed for the past week while meeting with a potential new client for work. A wrong turn off of I-35 put me miles off course, and I hadn’t passed anything but cotton fields and cow pastures for what seemed like hours.
Now, my rented Altima was running on fumes, and I didn’t know if I could make it another ten minutes down the road, much less the hour or more it would take to reach the relative civilization of Dallas. So, with the silver Nissan threatening to die at any moment, I coasted into the gravel-covered parking lot of ‘Pearl’s Diner and Petrol’ to give my trusty steed a much needed drink.
It was mid-July, and the sweltering Texas sun beat down on my already perspiring brow as I popped the
The Diner - Part 2It was two months before I found myself back in Oklahoma City, meeting with the client we’d picked up on my last company road trip. Heading south on I-35, I pondered if I should detour and visit the old diner I’d discovered over the summer. Of course, the diner wasn’t really what I was going back for, but I wasn’t sure if you-know-who would be working today, or if she even still worked there at all, for that matter. I decided to take my chances and cross the barren wasteland of cotton fields and cattle ranches once again.
Things hadn’t changed much outside the diner, other than the fact that a stray dog had taken up residence near the entrance. The skinny mutt barely stirred as I approached, and I once again crossed the threshold into the dimly lit interior.
In the corner I recognized Carl, once again with his two compatriots who were finishing up their breakfast platters. There were several other customers scattered around th
The Diner - Part 3I had to subdue my jubilation when my company finally sent me back to Oklahoma in early November. It had been 48 days since I’d last seen my sweet southern belle – I know because I was literally marking the days on my calendar. I was on the verge of going MIA and making the drive to Paradise as I had jokingly mentioned during my last visit, when my boss, Herb, pulled me into his office. He told me I’d have to spend ten days at a convention with our newest client as a team building opportunity. Ten days would be tough to endure, but if it meant I’d get to see Liv again, they could double the time for all I cared.
The next day, I hopped in my rental car and made the six and a half hour trek north, only stopping once to fuel up in a town called Denton. Denton has one of those massive novelty gas stations that makes their own snack foods, and I had a hankering for some of their signature beef jerky. With my dried meat craving sati
The Diner - Part 5April led into May, then May into June. Summertime was beginning to rear its ugly head in Houston, and there were already days where the temperature was breaking 90 degrees. Liv and I continued communicating as before, although now she seemed a lot more open about her snacking, and had even taken to describing what she was munching on in sensual detail. For instance, I once listened to a thirty minute rundown of every bite of cheesecake that made its way past her lips, from the moment she opened the box until she was licking the last crumbs from the empty tray. I’ll give her one thing - she certainly seemed to be accepting her new role as a fat girl.
Then one day, I got a call from Liv and she was nearly hysterical.
“Grandma had a stroke,” Liv sobbed. “They don’t think she’ll make it through the night.”
“I’m so sorry, Olivia. What can I do?”
“I really need someone to talk to.