He brought the cold with him

A semi dropped the man off
He held his sports hat between his hands
Which were held in anxious repose across his abdomen

He didn’t want to enter Patty’s diner
But in a way the prospect thrilled him
He had lost touch with the throbbing heart of the center states

There was no choice but to go inside that dimly lit place
To interact with people
To see that they hadn’t changed much, but he had
The cold was stinging his face and whipping his hands

“I’ll just go inside for a bit,” he said to himself.
One of the waiters greeted him
His eyes still had ambition about them
“One day I’ll make it”
The waitress floating by had that same look
And the cashier too
Their feet didn’t seem to touch the floor

Even the owner felt his own sense of smallness
The inspector writing a secret code down on her notepad
One customer was even eyeing the plates of food distastefully

“I’ll have the breakfast platter,” he said, folding his sports hat in anxiety
The waiter nodded, giving a curt smile
As the man sat down in his booth, he tried to look out the window
All the while wondering if people were staring at him
They probably were

He decided to distract himself by thinking about the nature of the diner
And the fact that he had some camaraderie with them
Everyone was marooned here, trapped by a sea of painful white wind
They wanted to get on with their lives
To finally “make it big” and never return to this obscure hole in the wall

The waiter finally brought his food
Piping hot bacon against quivering eggs
A hero’s breakfast
He did brave the waiter’s stare after all
And the long journey here
To prove to himself he hadn’t lost touch
That had to be admirable, to some extent

Or maybe being bacon was admirable
It drew quite the crowd over time
Insanely loyal, generation after generation
The immortal crowd
Which was the most important kind

But the rat carried historical heft too
It was the reason the health inspector existed
A large part anyway
Despite any wrinkled up nose, the inspector tried the chicken soup
And the snowstorm raging outside was the glue that held them there


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