Livie listened to Gert as the cook Enis came out to talk to her. She hoped Gert’s sitting with her wouldn’t get her into trouble.
Enis looked to be about Gert’s age, weathered and gray haired wearing a big food smudged apron.
You ok Gert"? Asked Enis.
“Enis damn it, leave me be, I’m fine, I swear to God you watch me sharper than those knives you use. I’m just talking to Livie here” said Gert with a smile.
Enis looked at Livie, bobbed his head and said “Ma’am” before turning to Gert and saying “Now Gert don’t get your panties in a bunch I just wanted to let you know that Cora called and said her boy Seth was sick and she can’t come into work for the lunch crowd”.
“Well damn”, said Gert, “that poor baby, Cora has had her hands full with him.”
Enis looked at her and asked “Should I call Elsie?”
“No she’s visiting her sister down in Virginia City, I’ll stay through lunch” said Gert.
“Now Gert you know what the doctor said” said Enis worriedly.
She looked imperiously at Enis and said “I’ll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself Enis Eugene Shrugg”. Enis sighed and shrugged his shoulders and shuffled back to the kitchen mumbling about women being so contrary.
Livie looked at Gert and asked “I hope you sitting here isn’t getting you in trouble”?
“Trouble”? Gert said, “Child Enis and I own this place, Enis is my husband he's just a worry wart.”
“Oh” said Livie smiling, and then she noticed Gert’s rheumy looking knuckles.
“Could I help out?” asked Livie.
Gert looked at Livie and asked “You ever waitressed young lady”?
Livie looked at Gert and said “Well no, but I could try, that is if you could first direct me to a motel where I could put my things. I could be back before lunch”.
“We ain’t got no motel child” said Gert. She saw the flicker of dismay on Livie’s face. Livie unconsciously bit on her bottom lip and worried the napkin in front of her.
“Is there somewhere I can rent a room”? Asked Livie.
“No child, at least not now, Ethel who runs the boarding house is visiting her daughter down in Florida and won’t be back for a month” said Gert.
Livies’ face fell again. Gert watched her then made a decision.
Gert said “I own a small cabin around the corner back towards the woods by the train station; my tenant left a month ago but you’re welcome to stay there in exchange for helping out here till Cora’s’ boy is better. The place isn't much but it's clean”.
“Really”? Said Livie, thankful to the old woman. “It’s a deal”.
Gert grimaced as she got up and slowly walked back to the kitchen taking a key off of a hook by the phone. She brought it back to the table and gave Livie directions to the cabin, told her to turn up the heat and asked her to be back by 10:30.
Livie agreed, put on her coat and scarf, gathered up her things and headed for the cabin.
The crisp air blew wisps of hair as she made her way back the frozen road to the small cabin set back against trees. Her shoes crunched in the packed snow as she made her way to the cabin. Thankfully someone had plowed and she was able to make it through to the cabin. She used the skeleton key to open the front door and dumped her bags inside the door. As she looked around the small cabin she found the thermostat and turned the up the heat. Moments later she heard the furnace grumble as it kicked in before hearing its purr as it came to life. She walked through the cabin; it consisted of a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.
This was actually perfect thought Livie. The furnishings were worn but clean. She opened up cabinets in the kitchen and found the basics, glasses, plates, bowls and the like. As she looked at the old Frigidaire refrigerator she noticed all the different magnets on the front, one holding up what looked like a paper from a fortune cookie. She read “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.” ~Confucius.
She smiled and took her bags into the bedroom. She sorted through them finding a pair of jeans, long sleeved t shirt, socks and a pair of sneakers. After she changed she went into the old fashioned bathroom tiled in pink and white and smiled into the mirror as she brushed her hair and pulled it into a ponytail.
I did the right thing coming here she thought. Then she glanced at her watch and saw it was time to head back to the diner. It had begun to snow again. She pulled on her coat and scarf and gave a prayer of thanks for the kindness of strangers, then squared her shoulders and headed out to go help at the diner. Waiting tables can’t be that hard she thought.
Joe woke up to the shrill sound of his phone’s alarm. He stretched at first uncertain where he was, then looked around the room rousing himself from his deep sleep. Then it came back to him… Livie.
He got up and went into the bathroom, when he was done he flushed the toilet, washed his hands then threw some water on his face to wake up. As he walked back into the motel room he ran a hand through his hair.
I need to figure out how to get to the next stop, he thought. He pulled his laptop out of his backpack and found that thankfully the motel had an internet connection. He booted up his pc and began looking up the best route to go.
His stomach rumbled and he looked out the window seeing a diner across the street. He got dressed and went over to eat. The snow had stopped and he saw that the roads had been plowed while he had slept.
He found a seat at the counter and ordered his food. A TV was on behind the counter and he listened to the weather report. It didn’t sound good. There was a front coming in from the west, and it was forecasting more snow and ice.
He was just east of Billings. He needed to continue west on route 94 and by his calculations it would take him about 4-5 hours to get to the next stop. He finished up, paid and headed back to his motel room. Since there were no real towns for a while he figured he’d better pick up some food for the ride. He decided to drive down the road the small grocery store he’d passed on his way in to get some supplies before checking out.
He got in his car and turned the key.
Nothing. No, don’t do this to me, not now he thought.
He waited a moment then tried again, still nothing. His head dropped to the steering wheel. Of all times for his car to break down, this was not good.
Joe sat up and thought. Ok, this is a minor setback, I’ll just find a mechanic and get it fixed, things could be worse this could’ve happened alongside of the road.
He got out of his car and walked over to the motel office. The clerk came out and Joe asked “Where can I find a good mechanic, my car won’t start”. The clerk jotted down a number on a post it and handed it to him and told him to try Bud down at the gas station. Joe thanked him and went back into his room and called the number on the paper. After ringing several times a voice finally answered “Bud’s”. Joe explained the situation and was happy when Bud said he would stop by in about an hour.
With nothing left to do Joe turned on the TV and flipped through the stations. He paused on the History channel and watched for a few minutes. The program was about the Chinese philosopher Confucius. From time to time some of his most famous sayings were transposed on the screen. One caught his eye. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
Joe smiled, just what I needed to hear he thought.
Then there was a knock on the door. Joe got up and opened the door to an old man in overalls and a heavy coat, wearing a hat that said “Bud’s Service” on it, a cigarette hanging out of one side of his mouth.
“Ya got a bum car for me to look at”? Bud croaked.