On Sundays

Here's something a little different. It's a short story. I haven't written one in a while.

The man at the lunch counter is usually the only one who listens to me when I start to ramble. He takes his knife, serrated for slicing bread of course, saws his way through a tough loaf of rye, and magic happens.
"Tony," I say, always thinking to myself that for some reason I found his stereotypical Italian name funny, "every day I order a ham and Swiss on rye, with a little olive oil drizzle and a side of potato chips."

He looked up from under his black bushy eyebrows and lack of eyelashes. "And?"
I wasn't expecting that question. I wasn't expecting a question period. I stared at him in apparent shock, mouth agape.

"And?" he asked again, I suppose because he thought I didn't hear him the first time.

"I don't know."

He took off his plastic gloves. "Sundays are different." He sighed. "On Sundays, I go out to my parents' property. They're dead now. They've left me 1200 acres of untamed wilderness. It was my dad's dream to build my mother a house on the highest point on that land, which overlooks the Colorado. They got as far as leveling out the land on top of that hill.
"Then, dad had a heart attack. Died right there on the spot." He put on a new pair of gloves. "Mom grieved for eighteen months. She slept all day and at night she would escape into the house, making a ghost of herself. I was fifteen and I got a girl pregnant."
I leaned in. I realized I didn't know a single thing about this man.
"Her name was Abbey. My mom's. Not the girl's. The girl's name was LeeAnne. My mom took LeeAnne into our house, saw her through the pregnancy. LeeAnne and I got married when I turned 17. Our daughter, Frances, lives with her now. But, my mom, died three months after Frances was born.
"This land out there, this 1200 acres, I named Frances Abbey. That's where I go on Sundays."
I leaned back in my chair, hot ham and Swiss on rye steaming little curly q's into the air above us.

"Hnh." What else could I say?


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