The man at the store is nice. His name is Carlos. He gives me a discount because he knows Roy and I don’t have a lot of money. Two years ago his wife left him and took their two kids with her. Carlos says he’s going to find them some day. And I think he will. I bought the milk and butter and threw in a pack of gum just because I was in a good mood. Then I left the store and walked across the street to the flower shop. I didn’t want to keep Roy waiting but the flowers we had on our table had turned brown and dry. It was very depressing; I needed to replace them. I bought a couple of blue tulips and headed home.
I felt very important with the tulips tucked under one arm and the grocery bag in the opposite hand; rushing to get home so I didn’t keep Roy waiting. I had somewhere to go, a purpose. As I walked I started humming. It was a cheerful tune to a song I couldn’t quite remember the words to. Then as I stood at our door, fumbling with the key, I suddenly remembered the lyrics. I opened the door and burst through singing the song with the newly remembered words at the top of my lungs. I finished a line of the song and announced my arrival just as loud.
“Roy, I’m home! I have milk… and butter!”
There was no reply.
“Roy?” I called.
Still no answer.
Full story available in Midnight Diner.