-I apologize that this one has been so long coming. I had most of it written a week or two after the last chapter but got writer’s block going into the date. I have had this finished for a few months, but life got in the way of editing this one. Thank you to all my readers and their patience. I hope to be wrapping this one up in another chapter or two.-
Without any groceries in the house, Oscar made the wise choice to go to Mel’s Diner the next morning. It was his favorite place to eat and a staple of everyone in town. Mel’s was family-owned for two generations, and someday soon, it would probably be three. Melvin Clark Jr. had taken over from Melvin Sr. who ran the place when Oscar was a kid. Oscars ties to Mel’s went back is rookie days as a patrolman. His first patrol included this area, so he usually started and stopped his shift here with a cup of coffee. In fact, that was how he met his late wife Wanda, she waited tables here and worked the morning shift.
As soon as Oscar walked through the door, Hanna, Mel’s oldest daughter, who was hostess, shouted out back to her father.
“Dad,” she hollered behind her with a massive grin beaming at Oscar. “We got an escaped jailbird here! Better call the cops!”
“Haha,” Oscar barked at her as he hung his coat on the hooks in the entranceway. “I was let out on good behavior.”
“Oh, we know,” Hanna said. “Dad and I saw that weird press conference. The rumor was that you got a beating in there from an orderly.”
“No beat down for me. Just good beating on an orderly that didn’t understand the meaning of the word “No.”
Hanna was Melvin’s oldest daughter of his four. At forty, she definitely looked it and never tried to hide it. She was the spitting image of her mother with blond hair dark rim glasses. They both had pointy noses with dark brown eyes. In all honesty, Hanna was not a looker but had all her father’s ambitions. She planned to take over for her dad when he retired. Oscar knew from prior talks with Melvin, he was ok with that but not the idea of retirement.
The diner was still empty on a Sunday because it was still way before the local churches let out. Oscar knew the routine well. If he got here before seven, he could always get his favorite booth in the back. Old cop habits died hard, and training always taught him to put his back against a wall with a clear sight of all the exits.
Oscar didn’t wait for Hanna to seat him. He just walked down to the booth at the far end and sat down. A few minutes later, Hanna dropped a cup of coffee in front of him just the way he liked it.
“You in a rush to order, or can you wait a bit for Rene to come in?” she asked, watching as a few new patrons walked in.
“No rush at all, hun,” Oscar replied. “I could use the paper if you got one. Don’t hurry, though.”
“I’ll have dad bring it out, he has a present for you,” she told him and then walked up to take care of the new customers. “Glad to have you back.”
Mel’s Diner was you’re traditional all chrome fifties-style diner. They were famous for the best hash browns in the county, and as per usual, Oscar would likely place two orders. The hash browns were just as good the next morning if he heated them in the microwave. That was no easy feat.
Oscar sipped at his coffee and watch the few cars out on the road this early. The Diner was right at the edge of town, making it a commonplace for everyone in the whole area.
“Oscar,” said a big heavyset man with Santa Claus style beard. “Good to have you back, man.”
Melvin, the owner, took a seat opposite Oscar and slid him the newspaper. It wasn’t just the newspaper though, underneath the paper he carried was something framed.
Oscar lifted the paper and laughed at the sight. Melvin had cutout last week’s news headline about Oscar saving a nurse. It was framed for Oscar and everything. Melvin pointed at a hook on the wall behind Oscar.
“Figured you might want to hang that up over your booth,” Melvin joked.
“Thanks, but I didn’t do anything,” Oscar said, holding his hands up.
“Yeah, yeah,” Melvin said mockingly. “Just like back in ninety-five when you were off duty, and that guy came in with a knife to rob me. I swore that kid shit bricks when you pulled your gun.”
“Right place, right time Mel,” Oscar said modestly. “Doesn’t always work that way.”
“True, but I thought my old friend deserved a bit of recognition.”
“Well then, I thank you,” Oscar said, extending his hand to the big man.
They shook hands, and Mel replied, “Your welcome, and I am sorry I missed your welcome home party yesterday. Nat swung by to invite us, but I couldn’t leave the diner.”
“No biggie,” Oscar said, placing the frame on the wall. “How long have we known each other? I know the drill, my friend. The only time I see you is here or if your wife invites me to dinner.”
“I am a workaholic. You know that. You’re going to have to tell me later about how they treat the patients up at Winterbrook. I have heard some horror stories.”
“I will. For now, let’s just say it isn’t so bad except Kartal Escort for the strictness. Us, old fogies are hard to break from bad habits.”
Mel tapped Oscar on the shoulder, “They took your cigars away, didn’t they?”
“You know it,” Oscar remarked, smirking.
The bell on the main door rang as more people began coming in. It Looked like it was going to be a busy Sunday at Mel’s.
“I think that is my cue,” Mel said, getting up from the table. “Rene should be here any minute.”
“Did someone say my name?” echoed from a tiny voice in the kitchen.
“Nevermind,” remarked Mel as he shuffled off to the kitchen. He waved goodbye to Oscar and shook his head as he walked away.
“I heard my favorite customer is here!” chirped a tiny blonde girl as she tied her apron over her jeans and t-shirt. Then walked over to Oscar’s booth, almost skipping with bubbliness.
Renee was the youngest daughter of Mel’s, and let’s just say, she was very much a surprise to the family when she was born. At four foot eight, she was a bubbly bundle of energy that never stopped. She looked nothing like any of her older sisters except her blonde hair. No pointy nose, not tall and lanky. Mel used to joke that she was the mailman’s kid, but there was no way she wasn’t his. Her eyes were the spitting image of Melvin Jr.’s baby blues. Natalie had babysat her most of her life, so Oscar was like her uncle. The girl wasn’t more than twenty and going to college for psychology. She only worked for her dad on the weekends.
“Hey, Tiny,” Oscar said to her.
“Hey, grumpy pants,” she quipped back. “The usual?”
“You know it.”
“DAD! OSCAR WANT HIS USUAL!” she screamed to the kitchen.
“Rene! No screaming!” jabbed Hanna from the front area, shaking her head in embarrassment.
The petite girl rolled her eyes and looked back at Oscar. She snickered at Hanna and pointed her finger.
“Some people, am I right?” she joked with Oscar.
“How’s school?” Oscar asked, trying to change the subject. He did on want to get in the middle a sister squabble. Those never ended well.
“Meh,” she said, leaning in closer to Oscar. “Why don’t you tell me about the big house?” she whispered to him.
“I was not in the big house,” Oscar stated dryly. “Just a mental health facility.”
“Stage any prison breaks, or get electroshock, or or…”
“No, ” Oscar said, interrupting her. “Nothing like that. It was pretty boring until I took out that orderly.”
“Didja karate chop him like in the movies?” Rene teased make a swinging gesture with her arms.
“No, just tripped him with my cane,” he told her. “It was pretty unremarkable. He was just a dumbass.”
“Did it make ya miss being a cop?” she asked, being more serious.
Hanna walked up to them with a pissed look on her face. Her hands were crossed, and her eyes were daggers. The diner behind looked like it was filling up quickly even for a Sunday.
“Leave poor Oscar alone, shrimp,” Hanna said. “I got you four more booths while you were over here bull shiting. So get to work.”
“Sure thing dear wonderful great much much much older sister of mine,” Rene replied with a salute. “Bet they don’t tip nearly as good as you,” she said to Oscar while fluttering eyes mocking innocence at him and then vanished.
“Seriously, Oscar,” Hanna said, smiling. “I don’t know why you encourage her.”
“She reminds me of what it was like to be young again. Also, I wish I could bottle her energy and sell it,” Oscar joked.
“Don’t we all,” Hanna said, going back to the front. “Dad says food will be a few more minutes.”
Oscar nodded and went back to his paper. The coffee here was sludge, but Mel kept the fancy stuff outback for himself. It was also the stuff he gave Oscar too. Over thirty years of friendship had to mean something.
Mel and Oscar went way back. Mel was only just shy of retirement, making him a bit younger than Oscar. Mel’s wife Joan and Wanda had been longtime friends going back to elementary school. Besides Oscar being here in on patrol, Wanda worked the register and helped hostess when the busy seasons came in. Renee had been born just after Wanda had passed, which was heartbreaking. Natalie and Tom were teenagers then so Natalie took a shine to the new baby. In her grieving, she helped Joan out with the baby in hopes it would brighten everyone’s sadness. That was why Renee and Oscar were so close. Renee spent many a day at Oscar’s house over the years while Joan helped her husband with the diner.
The newspaper didn’t inform Oscar of anything even close to new. Even after months away, nothing had changed in the headlines. Politicians were still fighting like children, and the economy was on edge to hit the shitter. Oscar sipped his coffee, not reading as he flipped pages in search of the crossword puzzle.
“Ehem!” coughed a familiar voice. “You look lonely in this booth. Mind if we join you?”
Oscar lowered the paper to see Daphne and her son standing there. He fought back his urge to scoop her up right there and Pendik Escort kiss her. This was a pleasant surprise. She wore a pair of dark blue denim jean cut-offs and a light gray tank top. Not as sexy as her dress from the previous day, but she still filled it out nicely.
“If I didn’t know any better, my dear, I would say I have a stalker,” Oscar kidded her.
“Of course you do,” Daphne replied, winking at him.
All the while, Peter stood there, confused by their exchange. Oscar put down the paper and gestured to the seat in front of him. Daphne slid into the booth first, and Peter slid in after her.
“So Peter, this is Oscar. And Oscar, this is Peter.” Daphne said, picking up a menu. “Oscar is the man who saved me last week.”
Oscar shook Peters, and they exchanged pleasantries. Peter was a decent looking kid but seemed a bit awkward socially. Oscar could relate, his nephew had been much the same way. It took time, but Oscar did his best to get Tom out of his shell.
“Thank you,” Peter told Oscar.
“For what?” Oscar asked a bit confused.
“For saving Mum,” Peter stated. “I wish I could have been there to help.”
Oscar just nodded in acceptance of Peter’s comment. The boy was protective of his mom, and Oscar was charmed by it. His nephew and niece had been much the same to him as they grew up.
“So, what brings you two out so early on a Sunday?” Oscar asked, sipping at his coffee.
“Peter here needs to buy his first car,” Daphne said, putting down the menu.
“Mooommm,” Peter chimed with embarrassment.
“How old are you, Pete?” Oscar asked.
“Eighteen next month. Going to be a senior this year,” Peter told Oscar.
“Good to own a car at your age,” Oscar told him.
“Yeah, most of my friends have had their cars for a year now.” He said bashfully.
“Ehhh,” Oscar remarked. “Don’t let that bother you. My nephew didn’t learn to drive until late in college. He got his first in his late twenties. Better freedom when you have one, he couldn’t believe it.”
Peter smiled at Oscar’s comment, and his mom interrupted. “That what I have been telling him. It would also be nice not to have to chauffeur him around town or let him take my car.”
“Yeah, but you put too much pressure on me,” Peter quipped.
As Daphne went to speak, they were all pleasantly interrupted. “Oh, we have guests today, Oscar! Should I be jealous?” Remarked Renee as she appeared with Oscar’s food.
“Nah, just some new friends,” Oscar said, smiling.
“Hey Peter,” Renee said, looking down at the young man. “Didn’t know you were friends with the old man over here.”
“Hey Renee,” Peter said back, turning red. “He is a friend of moms. We just got introduced.”
“Hey, Daph,” Renee said. “Coffee?”
“Sure. Two cream and one sugar,” Daphne replied.
“Tea for me,” Peter managed to get out.
“Be back in just a sec,” Renee said and disappeared in a flash.
“Ahhh,” Oscar said. “So you know Renee.”
“Yeah,” Peter said. “I tutored her in calculus the last year before she graduated. How do you know her?”
“I have been coming here since before she was born. Her mom was best friends with my late wife. I am her Godfather.” Oscar said, then pointed at his food. “Mind if I eat? Don’t want to be rude, but it is getting cold.”
Both replied, “no,” and the three sat there chatting and eventually all eating. Peter, who seemed a shy kid at first, opened up for Oscar right away. Oscar assumed it was because the kid had a massive crush on Renee. Knowing Oscar knew her and her whole family made the kid pretty chatty. Oscar was good and didn’t point out the crush, but it was pretty obvious. Peter blushed every time Renee looked at him. It was pretty adorable as far as puppy love goes, Oscar thought.
Just as they were wrapping up their meal, Peter excused himself to the bathroom. This left Daphne and Oscar alone. Oscar’s heart skipped a few beats in excitement to be alone with her. Tomorrow couldn’t come fast enough.
“So I can’t wait for tomorrow,” she said as soon as Peter was out of earshot.
“Me too,” Oscar said. “I was thrilled to run into you today.”
“Well, I did hear from someone. This was your favorite hangout,” Daphne told Oscar with a wink. “Also, in case you couldn’t tell Peter has a thing for Renee. You should have seen his face when I said where we were going for breakfast. She came to our house about a dozen times last year for tutoring, and I didn’t know the boy knew what cologne was before her first visit.”
“I see him and his mother have a few things in common,” Oscar said with a smirk.
“You have a thing for older men, and he apparently has a thing older women.”
“Oh, stop,” Daphne said with a small snot. “Renee is not that much older than him.”
“No, but I know a few old ladies that might love to get their hands on him,” Oscar joked.
“Not funny, Oscar,” Daphne said with less humor in her voice.
“Ok, ok. I am sorry,” Oscar said earnestly then quickly change the subject. “Tomorrow, did Göztepe Escort you have any particular place you wanted to eat or go? I haven’t taken a woman out on a date in over a decade, and I want to make sure of my success. Especially with one as lovely as yourself.”
“To be honest, Oscar,” she said frankly. “We could order pizza and stay in your bed for all I care.”
“Ooooh tempting,” Oscar said. “But I would like to show off someone as beautiful as you on my arm. If you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind at all,” Daphne said, turning slightly red.
“Nothing fancy,” Oscar told her. “You can get away with casual attire but not too casual.”
“I have just the outfit. What time did you plan?”
“Three ish if that is not a problem?” he said as the plans for their date began forming in his head.
“No problem. Peter has been gone a while,” Daphne remarked, looking around.
“He is not gone,” Oscar remarked, nodding his head at the counter. Peter was there chatting with Renee, and she was giggling at something he said.
“Wow,” Daphne said. “I am shocked he worked up the courage to talk to her.”
“Me too,” Oscar said. “Seems like a good kid.”
“He is,” Daphne stated. “Though not usually this much of an extrovert. I usually have to nag him to talk to people.”
“Pretty girls make the world go around,” Oscar said, holding Daphne’s hand.
“I am beginning to see that,” she told him, squeezing his hand.
Both of them let go of each other’s hands as they realized Peter was returning. The boy was grinning like a pig in shit. Oscar assumed his little chat with Renee had gone well. Or at least well enough that he felt good about himself.
When Peter returned to the table, his mother excused herself to the ladies’ room. She left, stating, “If Peter was to drive her around all afternoon looking at cars. It was a good idea to make sure she didn’t piss herself scared of his driving.” Peter looked annoyed at this, but Daphne kissed him on the head and told him she was only teasing.
This left the two guys alone at the table. Oscar took a sip of his coffee, trying to think about what to say or ask Peter. Before he could, Peter broke the silence with a statement.
“So Mom seems pretty fond of you,” he said to Oscar.
Oscar just nodded in agreement.
“You seem pretty fond of her,” he said again.
“I am,” Oscar said, knowing the boy looked like he was about to make a point.
“I approve,” he said, extending his hand again to Oscar. They shook, and Oscar fought the urge to laugh.
Peter leaned in and whispered to Oscar so that no one could hear them.
“You hurt her, and I will break your legs,” he said with a big smile.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Oscar said, now belly laughing. “I like you, kid. You got balls.”
“When it comes to protecting Mom, I do,” He told Oscar. “She has dated some pretty big losers since Dad died. I feel like it is my job to protect her.”
“Goodman,” Oscar told him. “I wouldn’t dream of hurting her. She is a wonderful woman.”
“So Oscar, that was a pretty nice car you dropped her off in last night. What was that?”
And with that, the two guys bonded. Peter didn’t have a fixation on cars, but everyone seems to admire classic muscle cars. Oscar told him about the car and how long he had it. Daphne seemed pretty surprised when she came back. They were both laughing about some wacky tale Oscar was telling about him letting his nephew Tom taking the car out for a date. Oscar had arranged for an officer, who was a friend of his, to pull him over right after Tom had picked up his date. It was a mean joke, but Tom kept his composure with the officer. Tom and Oscar laughed about it now, but back then, Tom was so pissed.
Shortly after Daphne came back, everyone went their separate ways. Oscar, feeling the need to always be a gentleman, picked up the bill despite Daphne getting upset over the idea. What she didn’t know was that Oscar ate at Mel’s for almost free. All he did was pay for Daphne and Peter’s meals and leave Renee a considerable tip.
On the way out the door, Renee grabbed him and pulled him aside where no one could hear. They were standing in the small foyer at the entrance.
“Hey Oscar,” she said. “Don’t mess this up.”
“What hon?” he asked, confused by what she said.
“You heard me, you dirty old man,” she said with a smirk. “I saw how you and Peter’s mom were looking at each other. Don’t mess it up. She has the hots for you.”
Oscar blushed for the first time in what felt like years as Renee kissed him on the cheek. She then bounced back into the restaurant. Oscar was left deep in thought as he went back to the car. It had been so long since he had been delighted that all these feelings left him feeling like he could walk on air.
The rest of the day, Oscar made his plans for his date with Daphne. He picked up groceries, ran to the pharmacy for his meds (including the new blue pills he got the Dr to call in), and called in a few favors.
For the date, Oscar didn’t get super dressed up. He went with semi-dressed up, wearing a lightweight blue polo and pair of khakis shorts. Summer was ending, but the heat was still pretty high. He also wore sandals, but they were the hiking kind. Oscar loved the air on his feet, but the sneaker-like feel of them.