Slim sipped hot coffee from the almost-clean cup the waitress handed him. Steam rose from the cup angrily before dissipating into the humid afternoon air. Slim wondered just what he was doing here, in this rundown old diner with stains on the walls and floors and duct tape on the tables. He took another sip, his eyes following an old Dodge as it rumbled down the dirt and gravel road, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.
That could have been him once, he mused before looking back down at the crumpled newspaper on which he rested his hand. Slim had been your typical teenaged boy, loud and a little obnoxious amongst his friends yet quiet and respectful around his elders, especially old Mrs. Tillmen who lived down the street from his parents house. He loved the outdoors although he wasn’t especially athletic. Hunting, fishing, camping – those sports enticed him more than football, but he did play it a bit. Not popular but not shunned by his peers, Slim rarely paid attention to the social ladder and his currently position on it like so many others worked themselves into a frenzy. He had his friends and with them, he had fun. He’d a few girlfriends and while most of those relationships had been short lived, he wasn’t worried about settling down or being doomed to singularity for the rest of his life. He was simply enjoying his youth and maybe, just maybe, learning a little about women while he did it.
However, if Slim wasn’t anything it was slim, as his nickname might have implied. At just over 6 foot, he weighed in at a solid 250 pounds. While his physical appearance might have made him appear a little rough and rugged on the outside, he could be quiet and observant when he thought the situation called for it, although he was far from refined or sophisticated. Slim was intelligent enough, moreso than he appeared, at least and this often worked in his advantage. He didn’t mind if others mistook him for an unintelligent simpleton because he knew better and because, most of the time, nothing really bothered him.
Slim sighed, coming out of his reverie. There was no longer steam rising from his coffee and the sky outside the diner was slightly darker than it had been before. That was then and times were different. Slim had been looking forward to a promising future. College, marriage, maybe even a career and who-knows-what-else awaited for him, but that had changed and Slim plenty bothered slim these days. Slim rose from his seat, his body seemed to resist and, he had to admit, his mind was of the same opinion. He could just sit on that chair in that dirty little diner until his breathing stopped and his heart failed or, at least, until insanity overtook his mind and he’d had no more worries. No, that was no good. He was 32, not 82 and he still had a life ahead of him, even if was a bleak one.
Walking to the register, Slim placed his bill and a crisp $5 bill on the counter before walking out. “Let the waitress keep the change,” he thought, “Maybe she has something better on which to spend it.” Exiting the diner, Slim stared down the road, away from the sunset before starking the nearly-a-mile trek toward the motel where he’d booked a room for the next several nights. One thing was for sure; he’d rise early in the morning and get a start looking for a job because his meager cash supply wasn’t going to sustain even an impoverished lifestyle for very long. Besides, working work help distract him from his guilty conscience and the memories of the boy he used to be, the life he used to live, which left a vile taste in his mouth and made his stomach turn.
Slim’s gaze focused dead ahead as he marched back toward his, hopefully, temporary abode, the setting sun casting his shadow on the gravel ahead of him. Tomorrow would be a long day, but he had a feeling that he’d soon be accustomed to long days.