Janie took her normal seat next to the hospital bed and clasped his hand in hers. It had been 3 weeks now since the accident but it seemed an eternity. Scott laid there unflinching as though he was in the deepest and most peaceful sleep humanly possible. Doctors encouraged her to speak to him as data indicates coma patients can hear you. She whispered softly into his ear and let her warm breath meet his skin in hopes that he might respond. Seeing no effect, she sat back in her chair and began the daily ritual of reading the paper aloud. Scott was a man of routine and she wanted familiar things to fill his day. Since coffee cannot be administered intravenously, the day’s headlines would have to suffice.
Janie had an ability to read but not engage fully. She would often drone on about the gas prices, the war in Iraq, and the latest sports updates all the while drifting off into her own world. Today she recalled their first meeting at the restaurant. He the manager of a quaint diner and her a customer seeking nothing more than a burger to tame the growls of hunger. He was so cute in his own little way…overly proud of managing such a dive. His smile sent shivers down her back and she was unsure if his piercing look was meant just for her or if he tore everyone apart with his beautiful blue eyes.
She stared at him casually from the corner booth as he rang each guest up at the register, smiling with a bright white gleam. He caught her eye and she quickly, bashfully looked down at her fries with a quiet giggle. I cannot believe I’m flirting with cheeks full of greasy treats. He must think I look like a chipmunk storing nuts for the long winter. As gracefully as she could, a napkin met her lips to catch the mustard oozing from the corner. As she looked back up, he was gone. Hmm…must have retreated to the backroom for a break, she thought.
“Hi, I’m Scott”
Startled that he had managed to creep up on her unexpectedly, she almost shot milkshake from her mouth as she regained composure and swallowed. Her cheeks turned a light shade of red as she held her hand out to greet him.
“Nice to meet you. And how’s the food today?”
She was nervously tapping her foot under the table wondering if his inquiry was part of his managerial duty or because her flirtatious body language had snared him.
“Very good, though not of the healthy variety that I should be eating.”
“No, nothing healthy on our menu but it will cure what ails ya.”
“Either that or put me in an early grave.”
Nodding in agreement he continued, “I get a lot of regulars around here and assume that you’ve never graced us with your patronage.”
“Nope. First time. I’m pretty new to the area and was told this was the best burger joint in town.”
“Well the burgers are good but the manager here is what makes the experience so wonderful,” he said with a sarcastic smile and a wink. “All kidding aside, I hope you come back when the healthy food starts getting bland.”
“Thanks. I certainly will.”
“Great. Nice meeting you.”
Sure enough Scott continued table to table, striking up small talk and asking about the food. Maybe he was just being a good manager. I cannot just leave. Well sure I could, I can always make an excuse to come another time. Yeah that is what I’ll do…don’t want to come on too strong and get embarrassed.
Janie collected her things and started for the door. By this time Scott was behind his counter again and was meticulously wiping down the trays.
“Bye now,” Janie said over her shoulder with one last look of interest.
“Wait. I mean…just a second.” He removed his apron and smoothed out the wrinkles of his work shirt as if to primp before moving in for the kill. Noticeably nervous after being so confident earlier he offered, “Umm…you are new to town, right?” Before she could answer he went on, “And I am sure you already have several friends and all but…if you ever need someone to show you around, I’d be glad to. I mean…I know this area pretty well. Banks, grocery stores, the health foods market,” he let out a nervous chuckle.
“Actually friends isn’t what I have. They are just co-workers and I would love a tour. Let me give you my number.”
Pen still behind his ear, he fumbled for it with shaky hands and offered it to her.
“I don’t have any paper, do you?” she asked.
“Here, just write on my hand.”
Her smile gave away her thoughts that even this was just so cute…and typical male.
“I promise I will write it down when I get in the office and have paper,” he said apologetically.
“No problem. Just don’t wash it off by accident before you do.”
The sound of Nurse Bailey checking Scott’s vitals brought Janie out her day dream.
“How’s he doing?”
“Still stable with good readings,” Bailey touted heartily.
“When is the doc making the rounds today?”
“Should be any minute ma’am.”
“Ok…thanks.” Her tone gave away the sadness in her heart. She realized that she needed to stay positive but the burden of this was getting too big to handle. If only she had not asked Scott to go out for milk and eggs that drunk driver would have never crossed his path.
Doctor Reid entered the room looking down, fastidiously studying Scott’s chart. Laying the clipboard on the patient’s legs he leaned forward with stethoscope in hand. Janie studied the expression of Doc Reid’s face, looking for any clues of good or bad news. He listened intently averting her direct gaze and began shining his pen light into Scott’s eye. First the left one, then the right.
“Well.” Doctor Reid began. “I have wonderful news.”
Now leaning forward in her chair, Janie said, “Yeah, is Scott making progress?”
“Oh no…not at all. But I did save 15% on my insurance by calling Geico. A fifteen minute call could save you that much or more. Get a free rate quote, view your account and pay online.”
Got you again, didn’t I?!
To make up for it, have a laugh by clicking here.