The prospect of good food and a job had Levi’s lips tilting up. His mood lightened as he entered the brightly lit diner. Waitresses bustled between the filled tables attesting to the popularity of the diner. A large chalkboard announced that tonight’s specials were stuffed peppers and chicken fried steak.
“They both sound good, “Levi remarked to Calvin when he heard Melody’s familiar laugh. His eyes traveled over numerous couples until stopping at a corner table. The woman’s back was to him. Hadn’t he seen that same top draped across her arm as she left this morning?
A thirty something guy sat across from her sporting hair too strategically highlighted to be natural and wire rimmed glasses. No doubt, he thought he looked both artistic and intellectual. Levi’s brows lowered on their own. The important thing was what Melody thought.
A waitress waved them to an empty booth cutting short his scrutiny of the couple. He followed Calvin who was on the heels of the server who led them to a booth. Realizing her direction, Levi asked, “Isn’t there a table empty?” He gestured in the direction they came.
Her eyes slipped to Calvin who answered while the woman stared at Levi. “Loretta was taking me to my usual booth, but a table would be a nice change.”
The waitress gave Calvin a smile while Levi only received an annoyed look as she turned and led the way to a free table closer to the two.
Calvin headed for the chair facing Melody and the unknown man, which would leave Levi with his choice of the other three chairs. He’d be constantly turning his head to stare. It wasn’t something he wanted to do. He made a lunge for the chair Calvin was heading for, placing his hand on it. He dropped into the chair thinking possession denoted ownership, before he remembered Calvin was his only lead on a job. He forced himself to stand. “Did you want to sit here?”
Calvin took the seat to his right and picked up a laminated menu. “Apparently not as much as you do.”
Was he that obvious? Did he offend Roy’s old friend? Not knowing what to do he played the card, he’d swore he’d never play the veteran one. “Oh, sorry, battle reflexes, I guess.”
His companion’s face grew interested as he placed his menu on the table. “No reason for me to look since I’ve eaten everything that’s served here. I was in Vietnam. What battle reflex forces you to take a certain chair?”
That’s what he got for playing the card. Harry at rehab mentioned most folks never served in combat. Any mention of it usually dumbfounded the general populace. It usually gave the person who played it a free ride for a while. His volunteer tutor did caution him about talking to war veterans because they could usually see through excuses or at best would want to trade war stories. Lucky him.
Melody laughed again distracting him from his current dilemma. Was that a real laugh or a forced laugh? It was hard to tell when he couldn’t see her face. The man leaned closer demonstrating he was clearly a date as opposed to a friend. Levi’s back stiffened. He knew the behavior well enough to realize the man was working hard to impress her. If her laughter was any indication, he was succeeding.
Calvin half turned in his seat to see who grabbed Levi’s attention. “Know them?”
“One of them.” He forced the words out between clenched teeth.
Calvin whistled as he turned back to face Levi. “I’m betting it’s the woman and probably the reason behind your battle reflexes too.”