The rain was coming down hard on the window, the sound echoing into the room. Mark sat in an old worn out chair that looked like it had been rescued from a dumpster, which it had been, reading a book, a single dim light bulb lit the tiny studio apartment.
A flash of lighting briefly lit the room. The apartment was in the attic of a old building that had been converted to an apartment building many years ago. It was sparely furnished; a mattress in one corner, A old beat up desk next to it. Two old, mismatched chairs that had come out of the trash and a table lamp with no table in the other corner. Beyond the chairs was the kitchen.
Mark set his book down and walked to the window. It had been storming for hours and was getting worse and worse by the minute. There wasn’t much to see out the window. Through the dark he could see only the dim pools of light the street lights cast and even the lightning didn’t cut through the darkness. There were no cars on the road because of the storm – not like there would be any at this late hour.
Walking over to his desk he picked up a pipe that had been waiting there and packed a piece of bud in to it, his fingers getting sticky from the reefer. Putting the pipe to his lips, Mark touched the flame from his lighter to it and inhaled the sweet tasting smoke. Letting the smoke linger in his lungs for a few seconds he exhaled the smoke from his nose in to long streams.e looked at the long wooden pipe as he turned it over in his hands thinking about nothing in particular, just letting his mind wonder. He relit the pipe and took another puff followed bu another until he had finished off the bowl.
“Her finest creation.” He said, the last wisps of smoke wafting from his mouth as he spoke. The ash was then tapped out of the pipe, falling to the floor, and the pipe was carefully set in the desk and the drawer was locked
A bolt of lighting lit the apartment again as Mark took a dark well worn trench coat from the nail by the door, clicked off the light and exited the tiny apartment.
Exiting the building he realized that the rain was a lot harder then he had first thought. He pulled the coat tighter and started walking down the street, the sidewalk, which was covered with a few inches of water, was pitch black, except for the pools of yellow light from the street lights.
A few blocks away on 5th Ave was the 6th Ave Diner. He could never figure out why it was called 6th Ave when it was on 5th. Stepping in to the old diner Mark shivered as he stepped out of the cold.
“Hi John,” Replied Mark as he noticed the owner, John, standing at the counter holding a carafe of fresh coffee “I’ll take a cup.”
“Sure thing kiddo.” John puled a cup from under the counter and poured some coffee in to it. Sitting on the worn red bar stool Mark pulled 50 cents from his pocket and set it on the counter.
“Put that away,” said John, looking at the money, “You know how I feel about your money.”
“You know I have to give you something. How about a sandwich and soup?” Mark pulled a few creased singles from his pocket and set them on the counter, “What you got today?”
“I just put on some vegetable and I can got a little tomato left.”
“Can you do a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Need something warm.”
“One of those nights, huh kiddo?”
“No, just cold.” John shrugged at that and went into the kitchen to start cooking. John could see him through the large window that separated the kitchen from the rest of the diner.
Mark looked around the diner. The building was about 70 years old and had been a diner for many of those years. Everything looked old and worn. There were some old faded pictures of mountains and trees on the walls. There was not one thing that looked like it was newer then 15 years. Mark closed his eyes and listened. He could hear John in the back, whistling some tune as he cooked the sandwich. He could hear the rain coming down harder and harder outside as the storm raged on. He opened his eyes to the sound of approaching footsteps.
“Nice and hot, the way mother made it.” Said John setting a bowl of soup and a plate of sandwiches and potato chips down on the counter.
“So why call it 6th Ave?”
“That’s what dad called it and I didn’t see a reason to change it when he passed.” John had got the little diner when his father died years back and had kept it running as well as he could. John’s younger brother Rich ran the restaurant during the day while John was there at night and did all the ordering and maintenance.
“Why did he call it 6th Ave?”
“How’s the soup, Kiddo?” John Asked, changing the conversation.
“It’s good.” Replied Mark, realizing that he wouldn’t be unlocking the secret of the 6th Ave diner tonight.
“So whats on your mind kiddo?”
“I’ve been thinking.”
“That’s never good.”
“There has to be more in life then this shit. I hate working, I hate it with a fucking passion. I love working at Olympus, but I just hate working itself. I hate my shit hole apartment. I just hate my shit hole life.”
“Then do something about it.” Replied John as he poured himself a cop of coffee.
“I’m going to. I am. I’m going to pack my stuff in to a pack and see the fucking world. I feel the road calling to me!”
“I’ve heard this before. You said…”
“No! I’m serious this time. I’m doing it. I have been saving my tips and paycheck. I got some cash put away for this. I think I can beg for money to get along, but I have a little put away in case I need it. The rent is due next week and I’m not paying it. On the first I’m out of here. The world is calling and I am going to answer the fucking call this time.”
“You sure you want to do this?” Asked John, a hint of concern in his voice. Mark sat quite for a second, thinking.
“Yeah, I do. I need to. I know that my destiny is out there, waiting for me.”
After about 20 more minutes of idle conversation Mark let the diner and headed home. The rain was still coming down in torrents and the wind had picked up a bit. Managing to clime the flights of stairs to the top of the apartment building, Mark quietly entered his apartment and striped off his soaking wet clothing. After hanging the wet cloths on the shower curtain rod, he layed down on the mattress that was his bed, covered himself in a number of heavy blankets and fell asleep.