The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 37
Rich awoke and immediately chastised himself mentally for not keeping the fire hot. It was cold and damp. He packed the gear in the darkness and by the time he pushed the bike onto the road. Frost had blanketed everything. The day was starting miserably and he hoped not for a day like two days earlier. “Too many such days and it might become a habit. Maybe that’s it. These folks in Maine have just got into a habit.”
Fog again shrouded the day. Headlights appeared out of the fog like illuminated eyes of a demon monster or the headlights of a mad scientists on an early morning run for live body parts to complete a diabolical project. Traveling in the fog increases time and distance by ten. Rich knew that is impossible, but with only a wall of fog to entertain him, there are no distractions to make time go by faster. It seemed like a Twilight Zone experience.
Soon the houses became more frequent and street lights appeared. He entered Bath. The fog became thicker with the daylight.
He peddled to the business center of town and spotted a small restaurant on a side street. Beyond the widow were six or so people seated. They were sipping coffee and conversing. A waitress skittered about the dinning room with coffee warmers. Two men sat a counter reading newspapers.
Rich opened the door. It squeaked.
One by one everybody said, “Morin’!” “Morin’!”
Rich replied in every direction and making eye contact with each person. He hung his coat on a coat tree.
“Would ya like to be at the counter or seated at a chair for yer poor achin’ back?” the waitress said. “Cause I saw ya ridin’ up on yer bike. Ya might best want a chair for the back.”
“That chair sounds good,” Rich said.
She directed Rich to a table and he sat down.
She was a masculine woman, wore jeans, and a flannel shirt.
“Now if we should be gittin’ busy ya don’t mind if I sit some other folks at yer table do ya?” she said.
Rich smiled, “Not if they don’t mind.” Then he whispered, “It’s been a couple of days since I showered so make this a last resort.”
“Did ya hear that every one?” She said. “He’s ashamed that he’s a bit ripe from not showerin’.”
A distinguished gray haired man with a tweed jacket and vest spoke up, “Wait till the water front gang gets in here. It will smell like the dead fish under the docks and that’s after they showered!”
That was met with laughter.
“Don’t worry about the smell,” she winked. “Just worry about the tip.”
Rich smiled, “Cheerful place ya got here.”
“Cheerful!” She spouted. “This place is like a funeral parlor today. Let me pour ya some coffee while ya look over the menu.”
“I know what I want,” Rich said. “Two eggs scrambled, sausage, and pancakes with real Maine maple syrup.”
“Would you like a daub of raspberry butter on those pancakes?” she asked.
“I don’t know what a daub is, but if it’s bigger than a sliver, the answer is yes,” Rich said.
He sipped the coffee from a thick white mug that was chipped along the rim. The table was set for four. None of the silverware or china matched. It was the same at every table. In fact, none of the tables or chairs matched.
The man in the tweed jacket said, “What’s your story, lad?”
“My story?” Rich said.
“Yeah, where ya from, where ya goin, where ya been,” he said. “That sort of thing,” he paused. “And forget the name business. Nobody will remember it any way.”
“I from a farm in Ohio. I started peddling about two weeks ago. I’m going to the Rockland area and here I am. And I’ll be looking for work when I get there and a place to live. I don’t know anybody there.”
“Ya don’t want to be a lobsterman,” a man at the counter said. “You’ll starve to death.”
Soon they forgot Rich was there and wrapped up into conversations about lobstermen, fishing, and economics of the area. Rich listened. The conversation was not unlike farmers talking about grain prices. The breakfast was brought and Rich began to eat like a hungry field hand.
A stout woman at a table called over to Rich, “Best be mindin’ the traffic, young man. You will be hard to see in the fog. I work at the hospital and I don’t want to see ‘em bringin’ ya in on a stretcher.”
“I’ll be careful Ma’am,” Rich said.
A woman at the same table with the man wearing the tweed jacket said, “Will ya listen to that, what he said, ‘Ma’am.’ He’s got some breedin’ and manners. Ya don’t see young ones doin’ that any more. It’s a disgrace.”
That started yet another discussion.
As Rich ate a few others came in and greeted with the obligatory “Mornin’.” He felt obliged to add also to the chorus. Before I was done eating just from the conversations I knew where everybody was employed. I knew their political party, religion, and philosophy on life.
The waitress brought the check. “There’s no other place like this in town. I don’t know where they come from. I think every other place in town has kicked ‘em out so they all congregate here.”
Rich looked at the check. The meal came to $1.99. He handed her two dollars and two more for a tip.
She smiled and said, “That’s nice of you.” She then called out to the man in the tweed jacket, “Hey judge you should take a lesson from this young man, a two dollar tip on a two dollar breakfast!”
“You’ll be takin’ me bowlin’ tonight,” he said and laughter erupted.
Rich went to the coat rack and slipped on his jacket. As he walked to the door everyone said, “Good luck to ya.” He waved and said, “Thanks,” and “Good bye.”
That breakfast dispatched any concerns he had about any perceived or prejudiced views about the Maine indifference. If things did not work out well in the Rockland area he thought about returning to Bath.