Diner Tales: A Triptych by Paul Beckman

Coffee, Hon?

Everyone’s Hon to May. Even strangers. Especially strangers whom you want to feel at home like their regular diner. The regulars are all Hons, only the teens are not Hons, they are Hey Guys or You Guys or Hey Gals or You Gals. You never see any May eating while serving or drinking—even coffee. Maybe when they go into the kitchen the waitresses will take turns breaking off a piece of cruller and a sip of coldish coffee. Another thing, Mays don’t like to be called Hon. It’s like snapping your fingers to get her attention. Don’t do it.


Lil, her pencil in her bun, support stockings, corns, and leg veins big as licorice whips. She’s
got grandchildren, sciatica, a husband who wants to travel but Lil has the hash-slinging gene since she was sixteen. There’s a feeling about sitting down after cleanup with a cuppa and spilling your tips onto the Formica table sorting the change into dollar and then five dollar piles. And it’s not about the money but Lil loves a record breaking night with that one big spender showing off for his squeeze and leaving a doubled sawbuck for a thank you, job
well done.

Closing Rituals

Sylvia and Monica filled the salt, pepper, and sugar shakers and wiped the tables. Monica took a bottle of Smirnoff’s from the freezer and poured four juice glasses, adding lemon. With two fingers in her mouth, Sylvia whistled loud enough to call a cab. Ernie, the cook, and his gofer Ernesto came out and took healthy slugs while the girls sipped and counted. They gave Ernesto stacks of quarters for bussing. Sylvia followed Ernie into the kitchen while her husband sat in his pickup drinking from the six-pack she left him. Ernie dimmed the lights and Ernesto peeked and drank.

Paul Beckman’s new flash collection is Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press). He had a story selected for the 2018 Norton Micro-fiction Anthology and another nominated for The Best Small Fictions 2019 BSF. Some of his stories appeared in Spelk, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, Thrice Fiction, The Lost Balloon, and The Raleigh Review. He curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series at KGB in the lower east side.

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