Red Bob Gets an Offer
by Laura L Mays Hoopes
“Hey, Hank. Want some coffee?” Hank nodded, so Red Bob poured coffee into the cup without losing a drop, then sat across from Hank in the booth.
“Did I hear right, Glorietta’s getting government money now?” Hank mopped up the last syrup from his plate with a piece of pancake.
“Ah, yes. Glorietta’s a spunky one. I wouldn’t go into that den of government thieves down at Social Security, but she did, so now we get a check every month. She’s right, it’s really her money that they stole out of her paycheck all these years.”
Red Bob got up to meander around the Cleghorn Diner with the coffee. After a while, he slid back in across from Hank.
“You get Social Security too?” Hank asked.
Red Bob scratched behind his left ear. “She wants me to. I dunno, going to that place gives me the willies. We could use the money. If I never ask for it, the politicians will keep it and be all pleased with themselves.”
“I don’t vote, myself. Don’t want to take responsibility for their tom-fool behavior,” Hank said. “Got more coffee?”
Hank said, “What’re you going to do with the Cleghorn Diner when you two retire? Do you want to sell it?”
Red Bob’s eyes popped open. “Maybe. Or get a manager. Why, you interested in buying?”
“Yes, but I didn’t talk with Susan yet. I’m just 53. I’m bored sitting around the house all day. Too much TV. Don’t think I mentioned it before, but I retired three years ago from being a custodian down below, at John Muir High School in Pasadena. Sue retired from teaching there at the same time. We love it up here in the High Desert. The air is so clean, and it’s got weather. I can see spending some years doing what you do.”
“Wow. Never knew you were interested. I’d have to talk to Glorietta.”
“Might make you an offer later this week, buddy.” Hank wadded up his napkin, threw it into the empty plate, swung his legs into the aisle.
Red Bob said, “See you soon.” He sauntered towards the kitchen, his mind racing. Would Glorietta go for it? She had talked about getting a manager if Red Bob retired. Did she need to own the place? Back in the Haight commune, she used to make fun of property owners. He mopped his forehead with the bandanna from his shirt pocket. Calm down, now, she might like the idea.
Glorietta hovered over six pancakes and two fried eggs on the griddle. She looked up and smiled. Red Bob patted his wife on the butt and she giggled. He winked, then said, “Glor, can you take a break soon? Got something we need to talk about.”
“Sure, Nicole can tell people it’ll be a while.” Glorietta slipped the eggs over gently and stacked the pancakes on two plates. She added the eggs to one plate, set the orders on the shelf outside the window, then rang a bell to get Nicole’s attention.
Nicole was a fortyish, well-groomed blond, a little plump, with a ready smile. She hurried from the back of the café. “Hey y’all. Good, Buzzy and Dave were gettin’ antsy for these ’cakes!”
“Nicole, we’re going out for a break for about ten minutes, okay?”
“No problem. See y’all.” Nicole picked up the plates and walked back towards the booths. Glorietta and Red Bob went outside.
“Whassup, hon?” Glorietta said.
Red Bob said, “Glor, Hank surprised me. If Sue agrees, he wants make an offer to buy the Cleghorn Diner. I told him I needed to check with you.”
Glorietta sank down onto a big rock beside the parking area. After she said, “Oh,” she was quiet for a while.
Red Bob took a deep breath. He put his hands in his pockets, then took them out again. “Do you think we need to keep it? You talked about getting a manager.”
Glorietta looked at the ground. “I don’t know. I never thought about selling. I suppose we’d have to move; our trailer is on the café property.”
Red Bob looked at their old house trailer. “Well, I don’t know. Hank and Sue have a house. Of course, maybe they’d have to sell that to get the down payment.” Red Bob pulled up his jeans and cleared his throat. “We could travel, maybe.”
Glorietta frowned, then her face relaxed. “We could visit Mimi.”
Red Bob felt his throat tighten at the name of their twenty-four year old daughter, who had gone off to Las Vegas three months before. “Yeah, it’d be a good way to keep in touch. An’ we could go lots of other places. Like back up to San Fran, to the Grand Canyon, which I never saw before, whatever. We might decide just to live in an Airstream. Or we could get a small place here in Victor Valley, and use it as a base.”
“That sounds good. Need somewhere to send my Social Security checks. I used to think roots sucked, but we got friends here. We shouldn’t disconnect, right?”
“Yeah. Are you thinking yes, then?”
“You talked me into it. Traveling would be fun. We’ve been nowhere to speak of.” Glorietta looked out over the flat desert with a few Joshua trees sticking up and a distant rim of blue mountains.
Red Bob said, “Okay. Don’t know if Sue’ll want to. Just wanted you to think it over.”
Glorietta got up, shook out her skirt. “Now I think I’ll be disappointed if they decide no.”
Red Bob put his arm around her and they walked slowly across the blacktop and went inside their diner.
© Copyright 2010 Laura L Mays Hoopes. All rights reserved
Laura L Mays Hoopes is a biology professor turned creative writer. In 2009 she completed the Creative Writing Certificate at UCLA Extension. She lives in the Inland Empire with her husband and terrier, Sabby. Her two kids are grown; one in Chicago and one in Santa Cruz.She has published in North Carolina Literary Review, Christian Science Monitor, The Writer’s Eye, and other publications. She is working on a biography and two novels. In addition, she maintains the West Coast Writers blog. If you like Red Bob and Glorietta, read her prequel here.