Maude was what you might call a real character. Everybody at the Waffle Shack loved her, even though she had only worked there for a few weeks. She had quickly become a fixture and had made her mark.
She would gladly pick up a shift for somebody who wanted or needed some time off and was affectionately called “moms” by the younger employees.
She looked to be in her mid-sixties and if you were being gracious, she could be described as “a stout woman.” Short, curly grey hair framed her face and her pink, horn-rimmed, rhinestone-studded glasses, looked like a throwback from the glamorous golden age.
Her favorite customers were a group of policemen who stopped by every morning before their watch. They always left her two dollars each, whether they had time for a full breakfast or simply relished a cup of fresh coffee that she had brewed just for them. She took to calling them “her boys.”
There was Richie, Chris, Gary and Floyd. Floyd was the seasoned old-timer and was just a few short years away from retirement.
Amidst the chatter of their walkies, they talked and told jokes. Floyd, having been around the longest, knew the best ones. He would have the other guys literally rolling in the booth with laughter.
Maude thought it must be a sort of release because she knew the kind of dangers and ugliness that they faced every day.
Richie was married to a wonderful woman that he absolutely adored, named Kathleen. They met in high school and theirs’ was what everybody called the perfect marriage.
Chris was a tall, handsome young sprout who as he put it, was “single, free and on the prowl.”
Floyd was divorced, had two grown children and five grandchildren. As he proudly showed pictures of each one, he said “grand-babies will either keep you young or send you to an early grave.”
Gary and his wife, Grace had been married for three years and were expecting their first baby. They decided not to learn the sex of the child because they wanted it to be a surprise. Gary took some good-natured teasing and suffered the threat of getting a football with a pink ribbon tied around it at the baby shower that weekend.
Floyd asked Maude once if there was a “Mr. Maude or any little Maude-etts at home.” She just smiled and said “no.”
Chris had been the one who said “Maude, your voice doesn’t match you.” When she asked him what he meant, he said “your voice just doesn’t match you.”
Maude said “honey, I have heard that all my life. I have these young whippersnappers flirting with me on the telephone when I’m ordering something and then they tell me they want to make the delivery personally. I just laugh and tell them they will be mighty disappointed when they get here.”
Gary asked her what brought her to this “miserable” place. She said “It used to be home. I grew up in a house just on the other side of the hill. My great-great-great-grandfather built the house and you know what? He still lives there.”
It took her boys a few seconds to get that she was pulling their leg. They laughed as they threw down the two dollar tips and said “that was a good one, Maude.”
As they were walking out, she heard one of the walkies say “code 10-72 and watched as Chris ran to his patrol car.”
To be continued_______________________