Frank and Beth
I was sitting in a very small coffee shop inside of a very small casino located in a very small town people watching. I happened to notice a man who looked like he had already done hard work out on some ranch sitting at the counter eating breakfast. I watched him watch the brown haired, big bosomed, 40 something waitress. His eyes never left her. Me, being me, I wondered what the story was, and my imagination kicked in and supplied one. The following is that story.
Frank sat at the counter, on the next to last seat, on the right side. It was the side that Beth was on. He nodded at her when she filled his coffee cup again. Frank really didn’t like to drink that much coffee, made him jittery, but it was Beth pouring. He wasn’t going to say no to her.
He had been coming here for breakfast every Saturday for probably three years. Or was it four? Frank thought back. His wife of 25 years passed 10 years ago. He was surprised he only felt a little pang of missing her when he thought of his bride. Anyway, he remembered being absolutely devastated when his Sally passed. The only thing he could think of doing, to take away that sharp edge of hurt and loneliness was to work. And work he did. He turned a small, barely making it ranch into one of the country’s premier suppliers of top-notch bulls. Made a pretty penny at it. Enough that he had been able to hire folks to run his ranch. Now all he did was the paper keeping.
With his ranch running well, and the pain of his Sally going away, the loneliness set in. He admired and heck even loved his hands, but he was a man alone. So about four years ago, (and yes, Frank was pretty sure it was four years) he started to come into town for his Saturday breakfast. At first, it was the donut shop, with the old men who sat and relived the lives they really never had. Then it was the coffee shop. Grant had mentioned the new waitress, who was a looker. They talked that this gal had moved into town, alone, from the big city it was rumored. So one Saturday Frank went to the coffee shop. Grant was right, she was a looker. Been coming ever since. At first to enjoy the view, then as he got to know Beth, for the friendship. Somewhere along the line, Frank fell in love with her.
He had never told her how he felt. Heck what would she want with an old rancher anyway. Look at her, her long brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. Frank had always like that hair style. Her laughing brown eyes, her smile could turn cloudy skies into sunshine and she had a body built like a brick house. Most importantly, she always listened to his tales. She always looked as if she wanted to hear how calving season was going and such. Yes, Frank was in love. And today, he was going to do something about it.
The rodeo was a coming and Frank had decided that this year he was going to ask Beth to the dance that kicked off the rodeo every year. He had planned on asking every year. Heck, he planned on asking her to go with him to everything, the ice cream social, the Lyons Club charity dinner, but he never had the gumption.
Here she came, Frank was going to do it, never mind that a gal like her would never want a guy like him. His hands were shaking as he wrapped them around his coffee mug. What’s the worst that could happen. No. No would be the worse.
Beth was smiling at him and said “You going to the dance Frank.” “.
Frank looked up into her eyes, opened his mouth and said “Dunno”.
She poured more coffee into his mug and walked away. He hung his head.
“Probably for the best, maybe next time” Frank told himself. “Hell, who am I kidding, no gal wants a man like me. Especially not a gal from the city. What would she want with me sitting here smelling like cow shit.”
He picked up his bill, laid a few dollars on the counter, put his hat on his head and went to the cashier to pay.
Beth watch Frank walk away. Darn it what more could she do. She had given him the opportunity to ask her to the dance, heck, she did for every event, but he didn’t ask. He never asked. Maybe she wasn’t his type. He was her type. Tall and handsome. Not in that Hollywood type of handsome, like the boys from the city with their shaved chest and their mani-pedis and their designer clothes, but rugged handsome. Frank was the kind handsome that only comes from spending a lifetime outdoors and working with the land, with animals. The rugged handsomeness that could only be sculpted by a lifetime in the sun, the rain, and the snow. Beth loved him.
Not at first, when he first came in he was just another customer. Beth had just gotten out of a relationship with one of those pretty boys back home, who had a nasty temper and nastier right hook. She had taken it for years until one day, all the sorrys, all the jewels and flowers, the big bank account, was no longer enough reason to be a punching bag. Beth packed a few clothes, grabbed a few dollars and drove away. She drove for days until she came to rest in this town. The kind of town where people stopped their cars to let you cross the street. The kind of town where everyone knew everyone and folks said good morning and asked about you. The kind of town that Edgar Matthew Jones the Third would never be caught dead in. So Beth found a small place to call her own, and got this job at the coffee shop.
Having never been a waitress, she was grateful for the chance and after a few weeks of miss-orders and sore feet, become one of the better waitresses there. She actually loved her job. To her, it was nothing more than feeding folks and chatting to them about their day, their hopes, how their families were doing. And the people asked about her. And seemed to care. Beth knew that some of em just wanted fodder for the rumor mill, but she didn’t care. She loved every minute of it. Plus, it was because of her job that she met Frank.
He had started to come in shortly after Beth arrived in town and got the job. He would come in every Saturday and sit at the counter, on her side, third chair from the end. He would always order three eggs over easy, hash browns, biscuits, and gravy. She would always make sure his coffee was full. Mostly because Beth loved to hear his stories. What a grand life he must leave. His talk of calving and bringing in the hay. He told her about the renovations he had made to his house, all by himself. He did not bring in architects, designers, or contractors. He did it himself! Beth was fascinated by his telling of the record keeping and the pairings that created the country’s biggest bulls. She was even interested in the tales of the castrations of those bulls who didn’t quite make the cut. She couldn’t wait for Frank to come in every Saturday. No matter what her day had been like, even if Mrs. Johns was being a nasty bitch that morning or the Cooks had brought in their kids for breakfast, the hellions, all was forgotten when Beth saw Frank.
Every time there was an event, Beth asked Frank if he was going, hoping that he would ask her to go with him. He never did. He always answered “dunno” and left. Maybe she wasn’t his type. A lot of the ranchers here about thought of her as that city girl. Maybe frank did too. Maybe she wasn’t rugged enough or well versed in ranching or something. Maybe she was too fat for him. She had put on quite a few pounds since moving here. She no longer looked like the thin waifs that floated through her life and what she was expected to look like where she was from. Her hair was a little unruly so she always looked slightly disheveled, the brown color not quite right. So maybe she just wasn’t his type.
Beth watched Frank pay the cashier and turn to walk out. No, not this time, Beth decided. She was going to ask HIM to the dance. She didn’t think she could go through another four years hoping he would ask. What was the worst that could happen? He would say No? Well she was pretty used to no’s.
Beth put the coffee pot on the counter and practically ran to catch frank. He had his hand on the door and was about to step out.
Frank and Beth
“Frank!” Beth yelled. “Wait”
She caught up with him, and all in one breath said “Willyoutakemetotherodeodancenextfridaynight?”
Frank looked down at her and grinned, “it would be my pleasure little lady”
Beth grinned back gave him a hug and ran back to her station.
Frank watched her go back behind the counter pick up the coffee pot and poor old man Horace more coffee. She looked up and smiled at him. He tip his hat at her and walked out the door. I wasn’t until he was in his truck and bout halfway home, where he was sure no one would see him, then and only then, he let out the Yeehaw bottled up inside of him. Beth was going to the dance with Frank.