Melvin got wearily down from the cab of his truck and walked slowly towards the restaurant. Emma sat at a window table and watched him cross the parking lot. It was raining softly and the traffic was splashing by on the cross road running under the freeway. A slow freight train was passing on the embankment behind the restaurant. Eighty five cars filled to overflowing with coal from the pit mines on the other side of the mountains. This train had just divested itself of the extra engines needed to climb the pass. Now the trip was all down hill to the coast and then on a ship to Japan.
Melvin entered the restaurant and looked around at the sparsely populated tables. There she was, sitting at the table at the end of the room below the velvet painting of a panther being ridden by a woman with improbably large breasts. It was the best table because from there you couldn’t see the painting.
Emma had come to meet him here. It was the only way that they could spend time together in the next week. He was making the long-haul trip carrying mining equipment up to the asbestos mines in some bleak town up north, a 3000 mile round trip.
He had met Emma three years ago when he was driving a log truck out of Fernie in the forests to the west. They spent two happy years together and then when the forest had been clear-cut, the work ended. He couldn’t keep up the payments on his log truck and the bank just took it. They spent another six months growing vegetables and doing odd jobs. But it had become clear that he had to get a serious money job or they would lose their couple of acres and the cabin. So he signed on to this long-haul job. It meant spending so much time away from Emma.
They would meet here at Polly’s Roadside Breakfast Hut for two hours in the middle of his run. It would be five more days before he could spend two days with her before he had to climb back into the cab for another run. Emma had a long drive just to be here.
Melvin smiled as he approached the table. He had one of those off-center smiles that fooled some people into thinking he was snarling at them, but it warmed Emma’s heart. It was one of those odd things about Melvin. He was a kind and gentle man who would always say how he felt about things. He could never keep things hidden for long. Sure enough, just as their lips parted from their kiss he said, “This is the last trip to the mines.” It was simple as that. She knew what it meant. They would probably lose the land they both loved, but they would be together. She laid her head on his shoulder and hummed to herself while he ate his pancakes and eggs.