Small time town with big time drama.
It felt like a search light burned into his vision in the pitch darkness, and he burrowed into the bedding and pillows covering his bed in the tiny apartment he occupied over the grocery-cafe-gas station which he owned. Once he adjusted to the brightness, he knew full well it leaked from the diner kitchen where Miss Dorthy created the homemade biscuits she came to town six days a week to make for him.
It was a good thing she did too, because no one would pay to eat what he cooked, but they would drive across the county for an order of Miss Dorthy’s biscuits and sausage gravy. Unfortunately, to keep his six-am customers happy, the breakfast cooking had to begin at the un-Godly hour of four in the morning.
The noise of the pots and pans being dragged from their storage created a din Alec had learned to overlook. The bang of metal against metal, jarred him from the sleep he’d drifted back toward.
He considered pulling the pillow over his head for a little more slumber, but a minute later he heard an enormous whisk against the metal bowl.
Get your ass out of bed, Alec. Miss Dorthy isn’t going to put up with crap from you, and if she quits you’ll be out of business.
With a soft groan, he slipped his feet from the quilts and dropped them onto the cold wooden floor. He stretched to his full six-feet-three-inches and felt his joints pop. His morning woody tented the front of his briefs to an impressive degree. He grinned down at his monster, but resisted the urge to take it for a little early morning activity.
Instead he moved to his tiny bathroom and turned on the shower. He did a fast check of his appearance and found the same heavy scruff he’d dealt with since high school. I’m a hairy shit, there’s no way around that fact. But he kept the heaviest thatch trimmed, so he didn’t look like an Oklahoma Bigfoot.
More sounds from the kitchen below set him into motion. He pushed down his underwear and kicked them onto the small pile of clothes accumulating in the corner of the room. With a final change to the shower spray, he stepped into the cascading water.
Alec turned slowly, letting the searing cascade wake him up. He stood under the pouring stream and let it run off his head. He peered through the runlets traveling down his face and grabbed the bottle of body wash. After filling his palm with the blue gel, he coated himself with its lather. The spicy scent filled the air as he washed the soap from his skin, with the methodical pace of someone coming awake.
He lifted the hand-shower for a final rinse and sprayed the soap from his lower parts. Once he finished with his morning rinse, he moved through the rest of his pre-dawn routine. It didn’t take long before he was pulling out his clothes for today. Most days the choice was a no-brainer: black jeans and T-shirt with a pair of shoes comfortable enough to get him through the day.
Alec tucked the shirt in and threaded a hand-tooled belt through the loops in the pants. He moved to the full-length mirror and turned a few times to make sure he had overlooked nothing. But he couldn’t find any problems this morning. The last bit of grooming consisted of styling his hair. A well-practiced task, a few minutes later he had his waves in his preferred flip over his forehead.
Without a glance back, Alec snapped open the apartment door and descended the stairs at something approaching a run. He jumped the final step to land beside a set of pegs and grabbed his apron. After looping the top around his neck, he focused on tying it over his waist. He glanced up to find Miss Dorthy’s warm smile greeting him.
“One of these days you’ll try to jump that last step and break yourself into a dozen pieces of Alec,” Miss Dorthy said.
Alec winked at her before organizing the kitchen for breakfast. The tiny space was more like a typical home setup. But Alec didn’t have an issue with that difference, he didn’t need to have a diner that would hold hundreds. The small group of regulars were enough to keep him in business.
Miss Dorthy’s next words changed his focus. “Looks like the first boys are here. You best get the coffee started.”
Alec followed her line of sight to see Eli and the college kid who was helping this summer with the enormous flocks of sheep he ran along with an expansive cattle operation. He stood frozen until the pair walked through the glass front door and into the diner… and twisted Alec’s stomach into a knot.
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