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  Gene's Perspective 

A short story
Another Sip of Coffee
by Gene Johns

May 21, 2016

It was a little after 1 a.m. when he walked in from out in the rain. Except for the waitress and cook, the diner was empty, and he took the last booth in the back taking a seat facing the door. The rain had just started so, for the most part, his clothes were dry, and his hair only slightly damp from the first drops of the softly falling rain that soon covered the streets that glistened in the dimly lit light of street lamps.  

As he slid into the booth, he looked toward the waitress and gave her a slight smile. It wasn't an inviting smile but one that acknowledged the meeting of their eyes and shown he was aware of his surroundings. The waitress slowly walked toward him approaching with caution yet feeling no danger. He seemed to her to be a man of kindness with a hint of intrigue about him.

“Hi,” she said as she approached his booth. He nodded and noticed her name tag. “Hi Susan, I will just have a cup of black coffee.” Susan smiled and turned around and softly spoke to the cook behind the counter, “A cup of coffee Dan, black.” She walked toward the counter and by the time she got to Dan he had poured a cup of coffee and placed it on the counter. "Thanks, Dan," she said.

Susan returned to the man in the booth and placed the cup of coffee down on the table in front of him. “Is there anything else you would like?” Susan questioned. He shook his head no and then turned his attention to the window and the rain outside now coming down hard enough to hear on the roof.

A brief moment passed when lightning lit up the outside like a mid-day sun on a cloudless day followed by a loud clap of thunder that rattled the window next to the man. “Wow, that was close,” Susan said with some excitement in her voice still standing next to the booth. The man turned his head back toward Susan and nodded his head in agreement.

“You’re out late, are you traveling?" Susan inquired. "I was, but I made it here. So I'm home now," the man said looking into Susan's eyes. "Home?" a puzzled Susan responded. "This is a small town, and I have never seen you before," Susan politely responded. “Well, this town, this is where I grew up and left years ago,” he said.

A conversation between the two soon grew into an hour-long exchange. There were even some moments of laughter with several coffee refills as they talked about the town then and now. Then Susan asked, “Why did you leave?” He said, “It doesn’t matter why I left. What matters is why I have returned.” “Then why?" Susan said with a smile and a glee in her eyes. Susan had enjoyed the conversation and was excited to her why this enchanting man had returned to this small rural town.  

The man looked outside once again at the rain still falling but not as hard as it was an hour ago. Then he turned his head back to Susan, took another sip of coffee and then looked into Susan’s eyes and said, “I have returned because you are my daughter.”