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Today's Story by Susan Marie

I couldn’t even drink my coffee thinking of the grimy hands that would soon be groping my breasts.


I greeted the day curled up in the back seat.  Spending the night in my car was not what I had in mind when I agreed to take this job.  It was only supposed to be for two nights.  It is now going on day five.

Damn her, I thought. It was still dark outside. I lit a smoke and cranked down the window whistling some Dylan tune. I saw lights on in a window up the street. Hopping into the front, easing into the driver’s seat, I cursed her for leaving me in this town.

Then I saw the note. It was lying on the dash, her usual manila envelope with thick, black scroll on the front, my name, what she liked to call me:  Toni.  I tore it open, thinking how much I loved and hated this woman.

Toni, my love,

Get something to eat, wait for my call.



There was a twenty-dollar bill inside, crisp and pure.  Like Jezelle.  I snatched the smokes and headed up the street to Bobby’s.

Nobody stared at me when I strolled into the diner.  A good sign.  I could really use a drink, I thought. There were five people that I could see, not counting who might be in the kitchen or getting their jollies in the john.  Two men in the back booth, an old man at the counter, and a girl in her teens.  She looked new.  You could tell by the way she sat all hunched over looking cold.  She held her cigarette as if she were posing for a picture. I had to laugh. That was me three years ago. I felt sorry for her.

When I turned my gaze from the girl, behind the counter stood Bobby.  God, how I had missed her.  She smiled. I headed for the bathroom. I took off my coat, gave my face a quick rinse and stared straight ahead.

Nothing scarier than staring into your own eyes.

When I came out, Bobby already had my coffee ready, black, as usual, and a plate of toast.  I pushed the plate away and sipped the coffee.  The elderly man mumbled to God.  Egg yolk dripped down his stubbly chin.  I turned away, focusing on the two men.

This is how bad it’s gotten.  Two men in a diner, a twenty-dollar bill and a half pack of smokes.  So this is where it ends.  I couldn’t even drink my coffee thinking of the grimy hands that would soon be groping my breasts.

Bobby nodded.  It was time.  I choked down the cup and took a shot from the pint in my coat.  Nothin’ like ole’ Jack to give you a hug when you need it.

I sat down next to the blond guy and whispered:

“Hi, I’m Toni.  Jezelle sent me.”

They both grinned and the mulatto slid in next to me.  Bobby quickly pulled down the shades.  I wanted to scream.

The white guy rubbed my thigh and I closed my eyes.  I thought of Jezelle.  I always thought of Jezelle.  And at this moment, it was her lips upon mine, her hands on my body and my eyes searching for her, once again, in the darkness of Bobby’s diner.


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