The Diner (Nighthawks)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
My idea of what is going on in Nighthawks, the painting by Edward Hopper.

Submitted: April 29, 2010

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Submitted: April 29, 2010

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Nothing was said for a while. It was very quiet inside the diner, and the only noise was the soft buzz of the large light in the ceiling, and the quick sips of coffee. A couple sat with their backs to the outside, and the lone man sat facing the outside. All three had cups.
The old man, the only person who didn’t have coffee, wiped tables and straightened chairs from the dinner rush. His head was always down at his work. He looked up occasionally though.
The coupled whispered to each other softly.
“How’s your coffee?” He asked looking at her.
She looked into the cup and saw her reflection. “It’s okay.”
“You look great tonight.”
She touched his hand. “Thanks.”
They both stopped whispering and looked at the old man. He stopped moving, and was looking up. His sad eyes were focused to the outside. He stayed that way for a few seconds, and then he looked back down, continuing his work.
The lone man who was facing the wall stayed perfectly still the whole time. Not a muscle in his body twitched. It looked like he wasn’t even breathing. It was impossible to tell if he was even awake; his eyes and nose were covered by the shade of his hat.
The lone man sat with coffee along with the couple, but they couldn’t see it. When the old man gave him his coffee, the lone man moved it into the darkness like his eyes and nose. They could see his mouth though, but it was shut and no cup ever went near it.
The couple glanced at him every chance they got. Whenever the old man wasn’t looking up, and they weren’t whispering, they looked several times at the lone man. He didn’t seem bothered by this. He didn’t even move.
“Why do you suppose he’s here?” she whispered. She took a drink with the whisper to cover it up more.
“Coffee, I guess,” He whispered back, “he may be a regular here.”
“I suppose so, but wouldn’t he be talking?”
“I don’t know, I guess.”
They stopped again because the old man looked up again. Right out the window, the old man stared outside. It was deep black, and never ending. All of them, even the lone man, knew the road by the diner went on for miles, but with the amount of black outside, it seemed like the diner is all that’s left.
He looked for a few more seconds, a little bit longer than before, then looked back down to his work. He only had a few more tables left.
“What do you suppose he’s doing?” she whispered. She was looking at the lone man.
“Who,” he whispered looking at the old man.
“Your brother,” she whispered, “why isn’t he talking?”
“I don’t know,” he whispered still looking at the old man, “maybe he’s thinking about something.” He took a sip of coffee, and glanced at the lone man. He was still stiff like a statue.
“Why don’t you say something,” she whispered, “just say ‘hi’, or something.”
He looked at her, then at his coffee. He picked up the cup with his index and thumb, and took one big sip. He turned at the lone man, and looked at him hard.
The old man stood up, grabbed his cloth and bucket, and stared out into the outside. The couple took their attention off the lone man, and glanced at the old man. He was standing there for several seconds, not moving.
Finally, he turned his head, and pointed his sad, old face at the couple.
“You leave your brother alone,” he said, “haven’t you caused enough pain already?”

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