Ephram sat in the diner and waited for service.
A waitress made her way over, placed the menu in front of him, and said, “Anything to drink?”
“Just a water, please,” Ephram said. “Maybe a tea, if you have it.”
“Sure. You ready to order?”
“Nope, you only just gave me the menu,” Ephram said.
“All right, all right, relax old man.”
She walked away, and Ephram grimaced. He hated it when people called him that. I know I’m old, thank you, I don’t need you reminding me of my approaching death.
He picked up the menu and looked through it. He already knew what he wanted – the same thing he always ordered. But he liked the ritual of looking anyway.
He finished with the menu and set it down in front of him, a signal, in his mind at least, that the waitress should return and take his order. While he waited, he looked beside him at the little coin slot with its list of songs. He chose one – one of the hits from his childhood – slid the coin in, and soon the diner was alive with the doo-wop music he remembered. He hadn’t loved it then, but now, in the time of angry crime and sex songs, it was a nice reminder. An easier time, for Ephram.
The waitress returned with his tea, having forgotten the water. “It’s a great song, I like this one,” she said.
Ephram smiled, then gave his order. When the song finished, he put another quarter in and played it again.