Old Home Café: The Next Generation

By Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr.

Episode VIII: Jon and The Cake Factory, Part One

(Originally published in The Legend-News of 2003 January 6.)

Six customers at once walked through the door. Well, not really at once (the door wasn’t wide enough), but from the first person to the last, the door didn’t have time to close and the little bell above the door only tinkled twice.

Jon, of course, leaped into action, grabbing an order pad and a pencil. “Good morning, folks. Take a seat anywhere,” he told the crowd, opening his arms wide to indicate that the entire seating area was available. One elderly couple sat in a booth by the window; two working men — wearing ball caps, denim jackets with hooded sweatshirts, jeans with unidentifiable stains and dusty, worn tan leather boots — headed for the stools at the counter; a third man veered off down the side hall toward the restrooms; and the sixth customer chose the table in the middle of the room, right next to where Jon was standing.

Len Alpin shouted a cheery “Good morning!” and thrust out his right hand. “Len Alpin’s the name. Insurance man.”

“Good morning, Len,” said Jon, shaking hands. “What can I get for you? Coffee?”

“You betcha. Black as the night,” said Len, grabbing a upside-down coffee cup on the table and flipping it over.

“Thank you,” said Jon. “I'll be back in a minute.” He headed for the counter, and as he picked up a carafe of coffee asked the two men at the counter what they might want. They both grumbled “coffee”; Jon quickly poured the cups then walked back to Table 6, at which Len Alpin sat.

“Refills are free, Len. I hope that you don’t drink too much,” said Jon, smiling.

“Nah, two cups is my limit,” said Len. “Anymore, and I’d stay awake all day.”

“Anything else?”

“Gimme a minute to down this cup, and we’ll see,” said Len. Jon excused himself and walked over to the window booth. So far, so good, he thought. I can handle this.

Jon had just said “Good morning, folks. What can I get you?” when the door bell tinkled and two more customers entered.

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