A knock at the door and a few half hearted barks from Lucky Jim wake you up. Rusty leads you into the dining room, a place you would only feel comfortable calling knick-knack’s 7th level of hell.
Porcelain figures of children fishing or getting the mail or doing other precocious bullshit things clutter the shelves alongside snow globes, a framed picture of Jesus so old it’s only got one side, 3 urns, and other assorted odds and ends. The flowery wallpaper sags with age and probably also the weight of all those fucking snow globes.
Norma comes flitting into the room, all too happy to have a guest. Norma looks like everyone’s mother got together and had a sketch artist draw them as one person. Her hair is dark but giving way to gray (or is that just dust from all the tchotchkes?) Her smile is warm but her eyes have a distance to them, dreams she had to bury swam around behind that smile. She has on a yellow and pink apron that could make Easter wince. Her voice is sweet and oddly heavy, like old molasses being poured off a cliff.
“It’s so nice to have a guest around here! We don’t see quite as many visitors as we used to and Lucky Jim doesn’t care to hear my stories again.”
Norma fills you in on her and Rusty’s entire life over plate after plate of waffles and bacon. Every time you try to resist more food she simply piles your plate and keeps talking. Luckily her waffles taste like the kiss of 1000 angels after the bad diner food and questionable snacks you’ve endured thus far so you manage to make room.
She tells you about how the town had a boom period in the 40’s and how her and Rusty bought the property that is now the hotel waiting for the money to come rolling in, but the boom didn’t last long, and all the people had fled before they opened. Now they just waited for tired people to stop on their way to somewhere bigger and flashier.
Time seemed to stand still for Norma and Rusty, even though they and their businesses showed signs of age, they never moved on from the idea that the town could be a diamond in the rough.
Pretty soon you realize Norma has been talking for 4 hours. It’s nearly 3 now, and you really need to get going. You thank her for her food and hospitality and settle your tab. You head out to say farewell to Rusty, but not before Norma can shove a basket full of homemade goodies into your arms.
Her house turned hotel may have been where tacky goes to die, but God damn it that Norma is a sweetheart wrapped in the most gaudy apron you’ve ever laid eyes on.
As you pull out of the gas station you toss a muffin to Lucky Jim who gobbles it in the blink of an eye.
You chuckle to yourself as you wonder if there’s any Yelp reviews for Rusty and Norma’s.