Saturday, December 24, 2016

christmas eve at the diner

they pulled in late at night,
   the parking lot overflowing
   ‘cause it was the only
        place open for the holiday;
the dash was blinking
      ‘check engine soon’
   they were running on gas
            fumes
      and bone weary from
      the long trip;

with callused, blue-collar
hands, he helped his
      the-baby-will-come-any-moment
   wife out of the cab
   and into the warm diner
      where a couple of
      goths offered them
   their booth, when they
   should have been placed
   on the at-least-45-minutes
   waiting list;

when her water broke,
   the waitresses suddenly grabbed towels,
   the short-order cook gave the husband
         a snort from his hip flask,
   the cop at the end of the counter
      delivered the newborn, gently
         placing him in a nest
         of clean aprons, while
   the squeaky-voiced cashier began to
      sing, ‘silent night,’ until all joined in:
               the stammering introvert,
               the burly college student,
               the lonely grandparents,
               the voiceless teenager signing along;
 
and in all the commotion,
no one noticed the grizzled
      trucker slip the manager
      the funds to pay everyone’s bill,
   as well as a nest egg for
   the little one and his family.
 
©  2016 Thom M. Shuman

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