“And, don’t forget a bag of oranges.” My wife’s voice followed me out to my truck. I zipped up my jacket and simultaneously waved.
“Got it,” I yelled, as I plopped on the seat.
The radio came on with the turn of the key. I slapped the big orange button and the music stopped. “Hmmm, I don’t remember it being that loud when I got home yesterday.”
My dog jumped in the cab across my lap and I closed the door. “Alright Kate, we’re on our way.” The orange rabies tag jingled against a bell on her collar.
Ten minutes later we were parked in front of a gas station/grocery combination store. My friend Walt owned and ran the store. His big orange and blue sign advertised “Walt’s Place” was hung over the building. He had purchased the run down gas station for a song, fixed it up and expanded it, and now it served a country community with everything from fuel to grilled hamburgers. A stop at Walt’s meant a person did not have to drive into town. I parked my truck in front of an Orange Crush sign and rolled down the window an inch.
Kate curled up on the truck seat and immediately fell asleep. I, carrying my coffee mug, strolled into the café.
“Hey guys.” I greeted the gathering.
Mumbled greetings and raised hands signaled the welcome of a number of men.
I nodded to the fry cook. “Shirley, get me a country ham biscuit today, and put an egg and some cheese on it.”
Shirley, winked at me. “Yer wife called, said you could have a piece of dry wheat toast and a little orange marmalde.”
“My doctor’s not here, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt me.”
Walt patted me on the shoulder. “Nope, but it will hurt me. You drop dead and I lose a customer.”
“Well, I can see that Beth has been here. A man can’t even get a decent breakfast without his so called friends bowing to his wife.” I was teasing, but there was a lot of truth in my words. I was lucky, six months ago, when my heart decided to stop, I had been downing carbs and fat like a garbage disposal. The vessels around my heart were filling with cement and I was writing my own death warrant. I was lucky in that I was at church when my cardio infraction hit, and two doctors, four nurses, and an EMT were in the congregation.
I poured myself a cup of decaf coffee out of the orange handled pot and took the piece of toast from Shirley.
Walt sat at the table with me. “So, how does it feel to get out of the house?”
I laughed. “Oh, I get out of the house. I go to the cardio rehab lab twice a week.”
“I mean get out and around like you used to?”
“Doing better, but it will never be quite the same. You know Walt, a person just doesn’t appreciate everything the Lord has given them until they go through something like this.”
Walt stood to go to the cash register. “Yeah, I suppose so, glad you are still here.” He left my table and sipped my coffee.
One of the men at the other table leaned toward me, his orange key rang banged the metal chair. “When you comin’ back to the gun club?”
“Don’t know Jake, I gotta a lot of sin and aggravation to heal from before I can consider walking in the woods for a day.”
The man tilted back. “Know what ya mean. Take care of yourself.” His orange key chain caught in the fold of the chair, he wrestled to get it loose.
I finished my coffee and paid Walt as I left the store. It was a beautiful morning, a light orange haze hung over the creek. I took a deep breath, the air was musty but as in the last 180 days it was the best I had smelled in a lifetime.
Kate stood up when I opened the truck door. “Well, girl, I guess we better head home.”
I mashed the orange button and the local K-love station came on; then, headed the truck down the country road.
Kate jumped out over my lap when I parked. “Hey, girl, you’re in a hurry.”
My wife stood at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips. “Bring the oranges?”
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