Achmad Dani Rizki N
It hasn’t changed a bit.
Everything seemed older, of course. What used to be bright flashy walls now looked dull and the neon lights just didn’t have the same feel as it used to. That may be the lack of patrons, though. During the height of its time, Gibbs Diner never seemed to be empty. There were always guests, whether young or old. It was especially crowded after school hours, when the high school students would take up all of the empty tables. There are plenty of empty tables now and I took one by the window. A look at the menu told me that the only thing that changed from the past was the prices, which made total sense. All my favorites are still there and they were still very tempting. What is 11.00 PM valid for? Breakfast? Lunch? Brunch?
“Hello there,” someone touched my back.
I looked up from the menu and turned my head to see a woman standing there. She was about my age, with straight blonde hair ending at her shoulders and pretty brown eyes. She was tall, too, and just why was someone this pretty talking to me at all?
“Excuse me, but is your name Dylan by any chance?” She asked, a small friendly smile on her lips.
“Yeah,” I responded, with my face looking confused as if I had pronounced my own name wrong. It’s been a long time since I was here, did I change that little that someone still recognized me?
“My name is Rose and my husband is Chris,” she said as she points to a rather farther table near the exit door.
I looked in the particular direction that she was pointing to but I also did not recognize the man sitting alone at the table. This has been pretty much very confusing for me, a stranger just walked up to me to point out another stranger.
“I apologize. I’m, uh. But, I’m err, very confused. I don’t think I know you guys, which is why it’s a greater wonder why you guys know me. However, my name is Dylan. Dylan Allen to be precise” I told her hoping that she just mistook me for a wrong Dylan and would just take off.
“Chris Dixon. Chris from Ramona High School right here in Riverside, California?” She sounded particularly hopeful, though failing to hide her disappointment completely.
“I’m really sorry, but that name doesn’t ring a single bell.” I said, and it looked like that broke her spirit.
She turned and walked back as quick as she can to her table by the exit door and sat down with that man that she was pointing out-Chris, I’d assume . She and her husband immediately began talking. A look told me that she was probably telling her husband of their conversation. Will I be on the receiving end of a fist-fight from this, I wonder? Is that a diner thing too or only a bar thing? They weren’t exactly subtle with the way they kept glancing at me.
I finally decided to order that brunch after what felt like hours of detour that I felt the urge to order dinner instead. However, I swallowed that urge and ordered bread and toast with butter and jams with a cup of decaffeinated coffee. I sat there continually racking my brain trying to remember who this Chris guy was. Am I just getting too old to remember people now? I’m drinking decaf after all…
“I have to know him,” I say to the cup of coffee in my hand. “He recognizes me for some particular reason, I just have to search for him in this brain of mine.” I picked my coffee up and took a slight sip of that coffee that was barely cool enough to drink.
All of a sudden it hit me, like that searching logo in my brain just found what it was looking for and came to a halt.
“Chris. KINETIC CHRIS.” I whispered to myself, with eyes wide open I swung myself around on my stool and faced in his direction. Funny how things always came back around.
“The bully of my three years in high school,” I thought to myself. He got that nickname by the way every other students would just part in front of him without him ever needing to lay a finger, although fortunately they didn’t call him Moses. Further more, he was middle linebacker in football from high school, he would just throw all the opposing players away. I know, such a super villain.
How many times had that sorry excuse of a guy made fun of my bigger than average nose in front of the girls in my class? It was full of boogers he would say t everybody. How many times had this son-of-a-gun laughed at me because I had no parents and had to live in an orphanage? He made feel very insecure because he said that no one, even my parents, wanted me. How many times had this big bully slammed me up to print my face in the lockers in the hallway just to make himself look like big and strong in comparison to all the other students?
Surprisingly, he raised his hand and waved right at me. I smiled an unsure smile, forcefully returned the wave and started turning back around and began to eat my breakfast, an activity that has been long since overdue.
“Jesus. H. Christ. He’s so thin now, what happened? He’s not that big burley guy that I remember from back in 1986, he was a freaking grizzly bear back then” I muttered to myself.
Then, all of a sudden the sound of dishes breaking broke the silence of the room, so again I spun my stool around to see what had happened. Chris, as unbelievable as it was, had accidentally hit several glasses knocking them off the table spilling water everywhere as he was trying to get into his wheelchair, which had been parked right by the door while they were eating. Funny how I didn’t even notice that, my brain had been too busy to study every detail of the diner. The waitress quickly ran over and started picking up the broken pieces of glasses as I listened to Chris and his wife’s apology to the waitress.
After that Chris rolled his wheelchair by me, being pushed by his wife. Now that he is in a wheelchair and I was sitting down we were on the same eye level. I looked right up at his eyes and I smiled, sincerely this time.
“Dylan,” he said, as raised his eyebrows to make that smug look he always has. Although I don’t know why, it doesn’t seem to upsetting this time round.
“Chris,” I respond back, as I nodded my head, in return. I also don’t know why I nodded though, maybe it was a habit of being bullied to just look at the floor instead of his face.
Unexpectedly, after all that trouble at the beginning of reminding myself of who he was, that was it. A single word, each other’s name was all that came out of our mouth, after all those years in high school, all those things he did and what he made me feel, that would have to suffice.
I watched as they slowly went out of the door and made their way to a family saloon. My eyes widen seeing as it had a wheelchair loader located in the side door of the vehicle.
I just sat and watched as his wife tried, over and over, pushing the button that’s supposed to get the ramp to come down. Tired of it, she puts her weight on the ramp in the hopes of bringing it down. But it stuck up there and just would not work. Finally I got up, paid for my meal, swallowed my heavy heart and walked up to the car.
“What seems to be the problem?” I asked without realizing that I sounded like a police officer.
“This stupid thing does this once in blue moon, I guess today’s just my luck” said Chris. “Could you please help me get him in the car?” Rose, her face looking flustered as hell.
“That’s the least I can do,” I said as I grabbed his wheelchair and rolled him over to the other passenger door, the one without the ramp.
I pulled the brakes on the wheelchair and then I opened the door.
“OK. Arms up, put it around my neck amigo,” I said as I reached my arm down and grabbed him by his thin waist and slowly but carefully raised him up onto the passenger seat of the car. Suprisingly, he was as light as a feather.
As Chris let go of my neck, I reached over to his chopstick-like, motionless legs and swung them up one at a time, into the car so that they would be sit nicely directly in front of him.
“You remember. Don’t you? Of course you do” he said, looking directly into my eyes with a sharp but somehow sad look painted on it.
“I remember, Chris, of course” I replied.
“I can’t blame you for thinking ‘what goes around comes around’,” he said, softly, almost just under his breath.
“I would never think like that, Tony, is that how shallow you think I am?” I said, with a strong look on my face.
Suddenly, he extended out his hand to reach both of my hands and squeezed them tightly.
“Is how I feel, right now, in this wheelchair the same as how you felt way back then when you lived in the orphan home? Way back when I make fun of you for it?” he asked me.
“Not really, Chris. You are still very lucky. You have, Rose, someone who’s willing to push you through anything, figuratively and literally, who loves you very much. I didn’t have anyone back then.” I responded, trying my very best to not let my voice crack.
I reached in my pocket and pulled out my notebook and pen, tore out one of the sheets to write my home telephone number on it and I reach for his hand to put it right on his palm, closing it as soon as he receives it.
“Ring me up sometimes. We’ll do lunch, again, just like today” I told him. We both laughed it off.
I stood there watching as they drove toward the high way and finally disappeared onto the southbound ramp. A smile was painted on my face, maybe they’d notice it from their rearview mirror. I sincerely hope he calls me sometime. He, my bully, will be the one and only friend that I have from my high school days. Maybe Gibbs Diner would change after all, maybe the walls would look flashy and the neon lights would have the feel it used to have again, now that I have company to be here with.