Kenny Sherman runs one of the last filling stations that pumps gas and checks fluid levels for you. The place is on the north side of four corners, in Stopgap.
If you need an oil change or some such, Kenny set up a small café inside, where customers can have a sandwich or a milk shake while the auto techs work on your vehicle.
The other morning, I stopped in for a doughnut and coffee, and to top off my gas tank. Bugsy Bolen was at the counter eatin’ a bacon sandwich, so I joined him. “G’d mornin’ Bugs, how’re you doin’?”
He swallowed a bite of bacon and toast, “Fine, Ted. Thanks. How’s everything going with you.”
“Pretty well. It’s gonna be a hot one today; I’ll cut scrub this morning ‘till I can’t stand the heat anymore.”
Bugsy slid a spoon off his napkin, and raised his right arm. He snatched the napkin away with his left hand and simultaneously slammed his right palm on the counter top.
He picked up his coffee cup and took a long sip, “I don’t blame you a bit, Ted. Weather like what we’ve been having is what my grandpa called heart attack weather. No need to push yourself in heat like this.”
The front door shut with a bang and a slim feller with shiny new boots, and a belt buckle about the size of Denver, came toward us and sat on a stool to Bugsy’s right. “G’d morning gentlemen.”
Through the front window, I could see the stranger’s Lexus. The car tag was a different color from what me and Bugsy had.
Our server brought the newcomer a cup of coffee. She shook her head when he asked, “Do you have fresh bagels this morning?”
“Okay, what about waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream?”
Our server held her pen poised above her little green pad, “No sir. Sorry.”
The belt buckle settled for coffee and two coconut covered doughnuts. He looked directly at Bugsy and over at me. “You folks from around here?”
“Where?” Bugsy said.
“This place, right here. I don’t know the name of it, but I was wondering if you and your friend live around here.”
“Yes. This place is nice; me and my friend live down the road; him east, me west.”
The stranger chewed his doughnut, sipped his coffee and nodded, all at the same time. He sort of leaned back on his stool when Bugsy raised up his left arm, real high, and slammed the palm of his hand down hard on the countertop.
“Can you believe it Ted? I missed him again.” Bugsy said”
A big doughnut hunk dropped from the belt buckle’s open mouth.
“You’ll get him next time, my friend. Just keep a sharp eye.” I said.
The out-of-towner eased his doughnut plate, and coffee cup, away from Bugsy and closer to him; all the time watching Bugsy from the corner of his eye.
Our server refilled my coffee cup, turned, and left a meal ticket on the countertop in front of the unknown customer. “Thank you,” He said, “These are mighty fine doughnuts, and the coffee is delicious.”
The belt buckle chewed his remaining piece of doughnut as fast as he could and drained his coffee cup.
He pulled a wad of bills from his shirt pocket and laid a ten-spot on top of the paper ticket.
This time, when Bugsy’s right arm went up in the air, the belt buckle hopped from his stool, and headed toward the door.
“Wait,” Our server called out, “Your change!”
“S’okay little lady, keep it. I’m outta here.” And the door shut at the same instant Bugsy’s meaty hand hit the counter.
“Darn. Missed him again.”