by Lynn Hobbs
A booming voice called his name above the chatter of the crowded café. Cordell perched sideways on a swivel stool.
“What’s up?” An older man approached, narrow reading glasses sliding on his nose. His bald head glistened.
“Mr. Moore.” Cordell stood, and they slapped each other on the arm. The older man towered over Cordell’s lanky frame.
“Look at you.” Mr. Moore stepped back, cocked his head to the side, and scanned the younger man. “What’s with the beard?”
“It’s growing.” Cordell gave a half- smile, and motioned toward the stools. “Lunch is on me. Glad you could make it. This hot weather isn’t healthy, is it?”
Mr. Moore chuckled. “No, but summer heat is part of Texas.”
Both ordered the lunch special with iced tea. He glanced at the young man.
“Heard some talk…heard you divorced Twyla.”
“Pretentious female, and all about herself. Guess you know that now.”
“I know it well…and I should have trusted your judgment… not my hormones.”
“Cordell, sometimes no one can tell anyone anything. They have to experience it firsthand for themselves.”
“Oh, it was an experience. I did everything for her.” He frowned at his older friend. “It was never enough, though.”
Mr. Moore grimaced.
Conversation ceased while the waitress set their food on the counter.
“Anything else I can get you?” She yanked two straws from her pocket placing them near their iced tea glasses.
“We’re fine, thank you.” Mr. Moore focused on his friend as she left.
Gazing at the heavy laden plates, Cordell appeared lost in thought, and slowly cut into his chicken fried steak.
“I’m here for you, man.” Mr. Moore spoke in an easygoing manner. “You may have graduated high school three years ago, but I will always be your mentor.” Blending gravy into his mashed potatoes, he waved his fork at Cordell. “Tell me about Twyla.”
Cordell’s shoulders slumped. He glanced at the other customers, and one couple looked in his direction.
“Twyla.” He paused, lowered his voice, and made eye contact with his mentor. “Twyla would not cook. I’d buy something after work, and bring it home. I heard one lie after another. She’d say she didn’t feel good. I didn’t know she stayed up all night, and slept all day. She wouldn’t wash dishes or clothes, wouldn’t pick up after herself…she always had an excuse. After I washed or cleaned, she’d get out of bed and act sleepy saying she felt a little better. Then on weekends, she’d go out with her friends feeling great.”
“Cordell, there is an old saying for your marriage.”
“That’s too much buck for a little sugar.”
“I did try hard to please her…and for what? She never did anything for me.”
The older man gently bit his lip. Leaning forward, he looked straight at Cordell. “Ever consider it was your will to have Twyla, and not God’s will?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Had it been God’s will for you to have Twyla, she would have been a blessing, not a lesson.”
“Wow. What a powerful statement, Mr. Moore.”
“Same principal applies to your money, and your budget. Is it something you want, or something you need? What happens if you over spend on something you want? Something you need in an emergency might not be affordable. You could be broke by then, or your credit rating could hold you back.”
The young man nodded.
“Hear me out, Cordell. I pray for God’s will and guidance in my life. It is as important to me as is the choice between a good life, and an evil one.”
“I appreciate you, Mr. Moore, and I intend to pray like you do.”
“Wonderful. Thank the Lord. I’m happy Twyla is gone.”
“No more women for me. I’m done.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.”
“Nope, not interested.”
“See our waitress taking drinks to the corner table? I think she’s close to your age. Don’t you think so?”
“Her face glows when she talks to customers. Seems genuine, and friendly.”
“She doesn’t know anything about them. Give her time, she’ll be manipulating.”
Mr. Moore flashed Cordell a wide grin. “Easy on assuming, now. They aren’t all like that.”
“Maybe, but I’m still not interested.”
“Here she comes, behave.”
“Sir, may I get you anything else? Would you care for dessert?”
“No, thank you, we are done. I’ll take both tickets.”
She scribbled on the order pad, and handed Cordell two slips of paper. “Hope you enjoyed the meal.”
“It was delicious.” Mr. Moore beamed.
She smiled, hurrying to the other end of the counter.
“So… what did you think about the waitress while she was here?” He pivoted to face Cordell.
“I wondered if I’d ever find a bag of rotten potatoes gooey on her kitchen floor…”
“Shame on you.”
“I found that on mine and Twyla’s kitchen floor, scooted against the wall.”
“Not everyone is nasty. Most are clean.”
Finishing their meal, each rose, and veered toward the cashier. Cordell paid while his mentor stuffed a five dollar bill into the tip jar. They meandered through the crowded café, and Cordell opened the exit door. The outside heat engulfed them.
“Mr. Moore, thanks for meeting me here today.”
“Let’s do this again, same time, same place next week.”
“Cordell, I’ll look forward to it.”
They strolled in opposite directions to their vehicles when the waitress came barging out of the café. She raced toward Cordell.
“Sir, you left your phone on the counter.”
Recognizing his phone she waved high in the air, he stopped.
“Why, thank you.” For the first time, he gave her his full attention noticing her warm, caring eyes. “Thank you, indeed.”
He felt her skin flush as she slipped the phone into his hand. Whirling about, she hastened back inside.
He opened and closed his mouth realizing he didn’t know her name, and knew he’d return.
Sprinting to his car, he drove off with a glance at the café while the waitress lingered on his mind.