The bus was dirtier than usual, and Fritz and Zooey were the only ones that boarded at the stop, they had the bus to themselves until the next stop.
Fritz and Zooey could her a raspy cough from the back ailes of the bus where a decrepit homeless man had been sleeping. As the bus lurched over a few bumps, the old man straightened himself and brushed the front of his jacket off with two mittened hands. He made his way down the center aisles and stopped two rows behind Fritz and Zooey before sitting down again.
“I’m Haroooollllld,” he slurred, wiping his nose with the sleeve of a tattered millitary jacket he wore.
“Hi Harold,” Zooey said with a laugh.
“You know whaaaaat,” Harold started, “I’m goinnnng to the zoooo.”
“I bet you are…” muttered Fritz.
“Shut up,” Zooey said as she punched Fritz in the arm, “This guy is awesome.”
“Oh yeah?” Zooey said to Harold. Fritz decided to join in on Zooey’s fun and he turned to face him.
Harold leaned on the seat in front of him, “You bet I am…”
“Whoops,” he hiccuped, “This is my stop…” Harold got up and made his way to the front.
“Hey Harold,” Fritz shouted, “What year is it?”
The old man hobbled down the steps and onto the pavement when the bus finally made its stop. As the doors closed he stood on the sidewalk for sometime, waving back at Fritz and Zooey, who could have only been ghosts to him.
Fritz turned back to Zooey, “He really did think it was 1973.”
“Told you he was awesome,” Zooey said childishly.
“Where are we going anyway?” Fritz asked.
“This bus goes to Union Square,” Zooey said, “We can get off and cross over to Mel’s Diner.”
“How American Graffitti of us…” Fritz trailed off as he watched the lights inside the bus flicker everytime they made a stop at a light.
“Don’t you just love riding the bus?” Fritz asked.
Zooey had her head tipped against the window as she watched the city move by in slow motion.
“Yeah,” she said, “it’s actually kind of comforting, its like our equivilant of watching television, except we’re really seeing the world through our own eyes, instead of how other people imagine it to be…”
The world flew by Fritz and Zooey, and they watched the traffic and pedestrians dreamily. The bus made a few stops and became crowded, yet it remained quiet, as if everyone was listening for something they couldn’t hear.
Mel’s Diner was fairly busy, even at this hour. This was the night life they lived for. Zooey breathed in the intoxicating smell of coffee and breakfast served all day. They sat at a booth and immediatly were greeted by a curly haired blonde in a pink uniform.
“Hi, I’m Gina, ooh, those are cute glasses,” she said to Fritz.
“I like your f%#@ing earrings,” he responded loudly. The waitress looked taken aback for a moment.
“Er, thanks,” she looked nervously over towards Zooey.
“Coffee, we need coffee,” Fritz moaned.
“Two cups of coffee, okay…” she said writing frivilously on a pad of paper before turning away.
“No,” Fritz called her back, “we want two pots of coffee, or maybe you could just put them in bowls or something…we’re cultural…”
Another waitress walked up behind Gina, who’s face was plastered with questions which were mostly along the lines of, why me? The other waitress was older, middle aged, and her pink uniform fit more snugly on her pudgy frame.
“Hey, its Brenda!” shouted Zooey. Fritz looked at Zooey amused.
“You know the waitstaff by name…I knew you liked breakfast…but seriously,” he said with a laugh.
Brenda pushed Gina aside, and ordered her to butter toast.
“All she’s good for anyway,” Brenda muttered.
“So,” Brenda said as she looked from Zooey and then back to Fritz,”Two bowls of java, a large order of french toast, one pancake, cut in half, a cup of whipped cream, a marichino cherry with the stem, and one spoon.”
“Brenda, you remembered my usual…you are divine,” said Zooey. Brenda looked over to Fritz.
“And for you?”
“Uh,” Fritz stammered, “yeah, I’ll have that too, minus the spoon part.” Brenda walked away with a smirk and yelled the order to the cooks.
“No spoon?” Zooey questioned.
“I don’t really understand the significance of the spoon,” Fritz said.
“Me either, I just like throwing in silverware into my order to break up the monotany,” Zooey said with a shrug.
Fritz and Zooey looked around wildly at the crowd Mel’s had brought in. The barstools at the counter were filled with night owls getting their fill of cheap coffee and moderately priced atmosphere. The speaker’s blared Surfin’ Safari and Zooey bobbed her head up and down to the beat.
“I feel like I’m in a Daniel Clowe’s graphic novel,” Zooey beamed.
“Where is that Brenda with our coffee?” Fritz scanned the diner for her pink form.
“Right here,” Brenda said unamused carrying two large soup bowls full of coffee in which she set before Fritz and Zooey.
“Groovy,” Zooey said, fighting Fritz for the pink packets of sugar.
“We should get a jukebox,” Fritz said to his coffee bowl.
“And listen to Surfin’ Safari all day!” Zooey said enthusiatically to Fritz’s questioning stare, ”...or not.”
Brenda returned a few minutes later with her arms full of breakfast in which she served to Fritz and Zooey. Zooey immediately dug into the cup of whipped cream, and Fritz watched her from behind his mountain of french toast.
“I wonder if they use condensed milk in this,” he said lifting a piece up with his fork.
“A mmmph a mphhhh bfffsssh,” Zooey said deep into her pile of breakfast. She swallowed.
“If so,” she started, looking deeply into the face of her severed pancake, “we now have a use for all that panda stuff. Although, it does look kind of cute next to the sink.”
“But maybe if we moved it,” she started again, “we could finally be able to wash all those coffee cups that are carpeting our apartment, I keep finding them in my bed…” Fritz looked shocked.
“And ruin my dirty coffee cup collection, no way. It took me months to get them like that. Plus, I just like using the excuse that we have no clean ones, to buy newer, more uglier ones.”
“Mmmphh wmmmph errrrf mmmph,” Zooey replied.
Fritz and Zooey finished half of their late night breakfast before they both agreed that they felt equally ready for a second helping of caffiene. As Brenda cleared the plates she promised to return with a full pot of freshly brewed coffee. Fritz and Zooey doodled idly on their paper menus, and from time to time, would look up to watch the people that passed in and out.
“Don’t you ever sometimes wonder about the different lives these people live,” Zooey questioned with her eyes gazing over the crowd.
“I sometimes draw inspiration from not knowing,” Fritz started, “I like to use my imagination to build up these people’s lives and personalities, sometimes I use them in my own writing.”
Brenda brought around fresh coffee and filled their bowls. They drank it in silence and continued to watch the other customers.
“You know,” Zooey said, “We intentionally left the house to smoke and buy more coffee for the apartment. We sure get sidetracked easily.”
“Yeah,” Fritz agreed, “but look what we did do.”