Dewey’s Diner had a small but loyal clientele. Its food wasn’t the greatest, but what it lacked in quality, it made up for in quantity. Its claim to fame was “The Dewey Dig,” meaning that every customer could count on having to dig through a pile of fries to find his sandwich. As marketing strategies go, it was genius. New customers were often so busy marveling at the amount of fries heaped on their plates that it never occurred to them to think about whether they were very good.
And then there was the fact that Dewey’s had a well-deserved reputation as a survivor. The place had been serving up calories and cholesterol to hungry customers for over fifty years. It had weathered wars, storms, floods, recessions, and even a fire in 1998. Dozens of fancier establishments had come and gone while Dewey’s, like Ol’ Man River, just kept rolling along.
During the typical lunch shift Dewey’s was about three-quarters full. Such was the case on a Thursday when Will Pinkney and Wayne Corbin sauntered in and selected a booth in the back. Thinking themselves hilarious, they had started referring to their friendship as The Will and Wayne Show because just about everything they did, they did together. This included being a two-man team of flooring installers for a couple of local carpet and tile outlets. But their real specialties were getting tats, drinking beer, smoking pot, and ogling women. On this particular day, it was the latter that was on their minds.
The current object of their less-than-wholesome desire was Wendy Crosby. An attractive, newly-divorced single mom, Wendy had recently moved from out of town and taken a job at Dewey’s to earn a few extra dollars. Will and Wayne, connoisseurs of the female form that they were, practically dropped down on all fours and barked like dogs the first time they saw her. Slender and tanned, Will thought Wendy looked like Jessica Alba. Wayne quipped that she looked like the future Mrs. Wayne Corbin to him, which set them both to snickering, even though they knew (as did anyone with two functioning eyes) that Wendy was a million miles out of their league.
However, this dichotomy did not stop them from making Dewey’s their current go-to spot for lunch. The Will and Wayne Show did not excel at math, but they did manage to figure out that since Dewey’s had only two waitresses working the lunch shift, they had a fifty-fifty chance of sliding into a booth that would be serviced by the adorable Ms. Crosby. On those days when they guessed right, they could barely control their excitement.
For her part, Wendy had grown weary of the two losers. The first time she served them they acted a little awkward and shy, but in no time they became more aggressive and even openly rude and sexist with their comments. They called her “babe” and “honey.” They openly stared at her chest, often placing their entire order without either of them ever raising their eyes to meet hers. They asked personal questions like where did she live, was she lonely, and since she had a tan line where her wedding ring used to be, did she need a new man. They also told her filthy jokes just to see her reaction. And they stared. No matter where she went in the room, she felt their eyes boring into her like lasers. She served them because she understood that rude customers are just part of the serving gig. But she did it with a clenched jaw, avoiding eye contact, and never, ever answering their personal questions or lingering at their table. Often, she walked away while one of them was talking to her. Still, they kept coming in day after day.
On this particular Thursday, Wendy was delighted to see that The Will and Wayne Show was somewhat distracted by a pair of attractive women (one blonde and the other brunette) who walked into Dewey’s and took the booth directly across the aisle from them. The women appeared to be about Wendy’s age and, if not quite as good looking, certainly good enough to set off a spark or two in the likes of Will Pinkney and Wayne Corbin. The boys, who couldn’t spell subtlety let alone define it, gaped openly at the two women, who, like all women Will and Wayne encountered, showed not the slightest shred of interest.
Will had just swallowed the last bite of his burger and belched when the two women’s conversation took an interesting turn. Will and Wayne, who had been eavesdropping all along, tuned in even more when they heard this exchange about old Doc Hansford, who lived all alone in a big old house about a mile outside the city limits: