The Diner At Exit #137!
It was a slow trip back to Oregon, coming across the snowy pass. Cars were abandoned, in ditches, upside down. People just don't know how to drive in snow. So when I came to Exit #137 and saw the sign, Emma's Diner, I pulled off the freeway. A meal and a hot coffee sounded nice I thought as I parked. The parking lot had just a few cars and they just parked any which way they could because the snow was deep.
As I got out and shut my door, I saw something catch my eye to my left and I looked in that direction. I saw an older brown car and a small child looking at me sadly. The snow was piled high on the roof and hood. I could see it had been parked there for hours. I carefully slipped and slid my way over to the car and saw two other children huddled together in the back seat. One was a boy about five and his sister maybe seven.
The little blonde haired girl staring at the window so sad into my eyes looked about three. Ice had formed on all the windows except for the circle where she peered out at me. She placed her pale white palm against the glass, and I placed mine against it too. Her hand and her face were pale white. Desperately, I pulled on each door, hoping I could get one of them open and get the children inside to the warmth of the diner.
But all the doors were locked or frozen shut. I headed for the diner as fast as I could. When I opened the door, the warm air made me even more desperate,as I tried to catch my breath. I looked around at the customer's sitting at the tables and stools angry wanting to know which one was the parent.
The waitress was taking an order from a one armed man, when she glanced towards me and looked into my eyes. Unable to contain myself any longer, I shouted angrily, "Who left their kids in the brown car to freeze to death?" All I got were blank, confused stares from everyone but the waitress. She quickly walked to me and asked me if I had seen three little kids in a brown car and I frantically answered, “Yes!
They're locked inside their parent's car, we’ve to get them out!” She placed her hand on my shoulder and asked me to show her where they were. I turned around and opened the door and stepped outside and pointed to the car with the little girl looking at both of us. "See, just as I told you Miss, we have to get them inside. Where are their parents?" I asked. In that split second, she gave us both a sad, tiny wave.
Then suddenly, the car simply vanished before our eyes! It was as if it had never been there, except that the four tire prints were clearly seen in the snow. The waitress was in tears as she pointed to a small plaque in the snow where the car once was. "Hun, it happens every year, when the snows get heavy and the little ones make my heart break.
Their dad came inside for coffee three years ago, half drunk and just fell asleep at his table.
By the time someone finally woke him up and he went back outside, they had all froze to death. I guess they come back, hoping their dad will come out and take them home with him." she told me with tears in her eyes. I couldn't speak. I just held onto the railing and made my way down the steps to the plaque. I stared in disbelief as I read the story of their death line by line on the four foot bronze plaque.
©2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)