"The Most Handsome Man In Oklahoma" and Other Stories
The Most Handsome Man In Oklahoma
Al’s suspenders barely covered his protruding belly. Every waitress at Dot’s Diner in Tulsa, Oklahoma knew he should lose at least fifty pounds. He denied this and, whenever he dug into a piece of cherry pie, deftly ignored their judgmental glances.
Al would turn seventy in two weeks. He wasn’t a “spring chicken,” a fact he always reminded Betty Sue, his favorite waitress. Unusually astute about the inner-workings of those she served coffee, hash browns, and sweet potato pie, she realized he was afraid of something which also terrified her: dying.
Every weekday morning Al would join friends Franklin and Samson for coffee and pie at Dot’s Diner. Franklin was remarkably slender, whereas Samson’s girth was more concerning than Al’s. They consistently requested the booth furthest from the kitchen. Unwilling to tackle their vexation if denied priority seating, every seasoned waitress knew to keep this booth available.
Typically the last to arrive, Al was first today. Betty Sue, her dyed blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, strolled purposefully toward him.
“How are you doing? You are looking handsome as always.”
Al smiled weakly. “I’m okay, but you know I’m no spring chicken.”
Her hazel eyes wide with mock surprise, she replied, “I had no idea. You seem full of life to me.”
Al, after easing himself into the booth, smiled gratefully. Even though she wasn’t the prettiest woman in town, she never failed to make him feel like the most handsome man in Oklahoma.
Brianna, a comb in one hand and a Debbie Gibson cassette tape in the other, paused in front of her bathroom mirror. In twenty minutes Trevor would pick her up, and she wondered if she should braid her waist-length red hair or leave it loose.
“What will we talk about?” she wonders while combing her hair. Debbie Gibson’s pop hit “Only In My Dreams” played in the background.
She was nervous, excited, and uncertain. Trevor was handsome, smart, and outgoing. But he also had a reputation about breaking hearts and pushing boundaries. Three girls at school—two popular, one less so—had warned her about his charms. One even called him a snake with murder in her voice.
Pausing in front of her closet, Brianna shoved her concerns aside. After all, it was only a date. What’s the worst that could happen?
For those of us who love music from the 1980s...
Best Friends Between State Borders
Alexa easily maneuvered her 2001 Chevy Corsica into the passing lane. Having driven in New York City for the past three years, navigating minor lane changes on the interstate in Kansas was child’s play.
Her black hair pulled back in a messy bun, Alexa’s best friend Sadie flipped through a case of CDs. She was infinitely impatient and therefore never willing to sit through any song she disliked.
“What are you looking for?” Alexa wondered. The CDs were hers, and she wondered if she could ease Sadie’s foul mood by directing her to the right CD.
Sighing audibly, Sadie replied with exasperation-soaked words, “I don’t know. Haven’t we already listened to everything here? Where in the world are we?”
“Somewhere in Kansas. I think Topeka is the next town we’ll reach. Are you hungry?”
“Maybe. I’m in one of my moods where nothing appeals to me.”
Nodding sympathetically, Alexa turned and offered Sadie an encouraging smile.
“I feel you. We’ll be in Colorado soon. Why don’t we talk about all the boys we liked in high school?”
Amused by this idea, Sadie agreed. Soon they were animatedly discussing Joe, Pete, Luke, and the ill-fated Tim as the nondescript miles accumulated.
Rainy Day Bliss And Blues
“Is that thunder?” Eddie asked aloud. It was 6:03 a.m. and he had just awoken from a dream about beating Andy Murray on the tennis courts at Wimbledon.
Unequal helpings of thunder shook his bedroom walls. Resigned to the fact he may be too awake to revisit the cocoon of slumber, he pushed aside his dark blue comforter and stepped out of bed.
Today was his first day off in almost two weeks. He’d been too tired last night to check the weather forecast; consequently, the storm was unexpected and unwelcome.
By 7:30 a.m. he was still in his boxers and found himself barely motivated enough to watch “Inception” on the flat screened TV he bought himself after receiving a raise at work three months earlier.
“How should I spend this rainy day?” he wondered at 11:15 a.m. while sheets of rain slobbered against the windows in his one-bedroom apartment.
Phone calls were made in the early afternoon to see who—anyone would do—was free. His close friend Patrick was working, whereas his childhood friend Steve had a hot date. Even Eddie’s second cousin Sheila—a woman so extroverted she vibrated with excitement while at parties—wasn’t interested in hanging out.
“I suppose this must be a solo day,” Eddie concluded. Finally able to find the upside in his circumstances, he located his favorite Orson Scott Card novel and began rereading it. By early evening, as he bookmarked page 115, he spied a rainbow outside his kitchen window. Reenergized, he changed into street clothes and ventured outside to see what his rain-stained world smelled like.