I listened as bumpkin Rich went on and on about some sort of horse or another. It was strange, he could literally ramble on and on about the stupidest things for almost two years straight and we still knew as much about him as we did when he bought the diner. Or maybe he did tell us and no one cared to listen or even remember I dunno. He was such a talkative son of a bitch it could very well be the latter of the two.

Then I got an idea; I slide down to a seat and propped my head up on my hand coyly to which he stared blinking. i clicked my tongue. "I envy you." I started.

"Me?" he drew in his southern drawl fixing a soft serve cone. "Why?"

"Because you are still in the honeymoon faze." I state bluntly, but he doesn't miss a beat sadly and says with a roll of the eyes. "Nothing is ever a honeymoon with that busy body girl of mine." I tried not to frown at his response, I was hoping to catch him off guard. But he didn't let up, not an inch, not even a twitch of the eye.

"in fact I was just tellin Miss Judy-"

Judy of course, she was a natural born pest so I was sure he had enough practice being bombarded by questions from her to build somethin plausible to tell other priers. I slumped a bit as he went on talkin; and talkin and talkin.

And as he was talkin Joyce came in with brown grocery bags balanced in both arms. Rich smiled. "Hi honey!" he greeted. "I was just telling Cynthia the chicken story, you know the one… when I was a boy and I poured the sand down the Chicken's throat and daddy chased me clear into a ditch and-"

"I know the one." Joycie complied cutting him off as politely as possible making her way towards the back. "Can someone hold the freezer door open for me please?"

"I can." I answer automatically getting to my feet. Before we can go to past the counter Rich cuts us off. "Now." He starts with as firm of tone as he can manage. "I hope you didn't go to the market and buy more tomatoes when the supply delivery guy is acomin tomorrow."

At this Joyce's face became contorted with annoyance. "Yes I did." She affirmed.

"Now why would you go and do a thing like that? That is a waste of money and precious time!" he roared in a whiny way.

Joyce looked even more aggravated at him than ever before. "Oh Rich!" she breathed. "Its not even like it was on your dime! I paid for it out of pocket and-"

"But honey-" he cut her short and if looks could kill… the look she gave him would have likely killed him dead before he could even blink.

"Now you look! It wasn't on your dime, I paid for these damn things out of pocket because it says clearly on the menu that the BLTs comes with T! now unless you want to make a liar out of me and the menu, take these things back and pocket the 10 dollars and something odd cents I spent to get us through till tomorrow." She didn't even finish, I just opened the freezer door for and she went in briefly before coming back out and adding with a point of her finger. "And stop calling me honey!"

Well, if they weren't dating they certainly had the dynamics of a married couple down. Rich crossed his arms. "She's just stressed about tax season, that's all!" he stated.

"Tax season?" I questioned raising an eyebrow. Why would Joyce be worried bout taxes? Surely she could do her own taxes in her head licidy split and make sure she wouldn't owe with her math skills. And the diner was doing fine. Joyce came back out from the fridge sprinting and rubbing warmth back into her arms. "Jesus its colder than the brass balls of a monkey in there." She chattered.

"You worried bout taxes Joycie?" I ask. "You ain't thinkin you're gonna owe do you?"

She took over Rich's place at the ice cream machine, bumping him over as was typical. "Me? Owe?" she said with a laugh. "Never."

I glance at Rich for the obvious shut down of his theory. "Well, I didn't say it was her own taxes she was worried about." He defended. Joyce shot him a warnin look.

"Has anyone gotten a letter from Chino lately?" she tried to change the subject.

"Joey has." I say bluntly. "he says he's fine."

I kept tabs on Chino that way, through Joey. There was a couple times as stupid as it sounds that I had tried to watch the war to try and see the kid on the news but it was too morbid, too much. So I would go see Pesci every couple weeks and collect a packet of pages of letters and read them whenever I had free time; like waitin for an appointment, or waitin for the kids in the car. Chino was far less awkward in his letters and better spoken. It was as if he had found his niche overseas. The written word.

"He's fine." I repeat trying to get back on target. But just as this was about to happen the door flung open and in ran Tommy stumblin over his feet only stoppin at the sight of me. "Oh pom poms didn't know you were here." He crossed one leg behind the other and rubbed the back of his neck.

"I own the diner you idiot, where else would I be?" I ask him simply.

"Maybe watchin that big mouth of yours." He comes back, clearly riled up about somethin. I leant back mockingly. "Hey maybe next time you decide to barge in here like a bull in a china shop maybe you'll look around and check for customers, this isnt a bowlin alley Tommy!"

"Well maybe I'm bowlin for minorities, the ones in tennis shoes are ten points." He tries to sound smug, but I can tell by the way he's dancin around he's itchin to tell I know who something. And she just happens by. He grabs her by the shoulders and pulls her aside. "Hey Joycie how you doin?' he starts tryin too hard to act like his idea of normal. "You hungry? You look a little hungry! Let me take you to lunch you don't look so good."

I puff out a laugh. "Cant take care of himself but suddenly is an expert on Joyce. When did you become such a grandmother?"

He turns his head. "Why don't you can it ok Cynthia?" he snaps, Joyce pulls him away clearly concerned. And they start whisperin. "Is everything okay?"

"No everything is not ok. We need to get the F out of here so we can actually talk."

Joyce bites her lip and turns to me with a look in her eyes that told everything and I waved at her to go. They left, the bell above the door chiming behind them, I timed it out; 10, I grabbed my purse and started after them; Rich tried to stop me but couldn't get the words out quick enough. Luckily on the way I ran into Judy who was headed the opposite direction. I grabbed her arm and dragged her along side me. When she asked where we were going I told her on a steak out. I was going to prove that once and for all that Tommy had corner our Joyce into his twisted game.

HI Guys thank you for the lovely reviews, they really inspired me to pick this back up now that i'm on summer break i hope to write more,

Next up is Tommy, hopefully i can do him justice