Do You Know John?
I was driving home one summer evening.
It was nice outside, and I was enjoying the scenery, lots of trees with all the bright colors that the leaves become in the fall. I decided I should stop to eat at the next place since I was planning to drive through the night to get home. I really was missing home.
The first place I came to looked like a mom and pop type place that didn’t see much business other than the locals, but in my experiences, those always had the best food.
So I pull into the small muddy parking lot. Muddy? It hasn’t rained in days, why is it muddy?
Oh well, I’m hungry.
As I walk into the building, I take a quick look around. The place is packed, all the tables are full, and a person or two are standing along the walls. I notice everyone has a strange smile on their faces. Like the overly happy to the point of being painful smiles or really excited puppy smiles.
And the place is really dirty. Has anyone cleaned this place, ever?
I really want to turn around and leave, but everyone has stopped what they are doing and are staring at me.
A man stands up from a table he’s been sitting at, walks towards me with that huge smile and asks me very jovially, “Do you know John?” I shake my head and say I don’t and that I stopped looking to get some dinner.
The guy takes my arm, leading me past all the tables to where I could see a couple of order windows near the back of the building.
I look around more as we walk to the windows, nobody has food, they only have these pieces of paper…. or pictures? What the heck? They all watch as I walk by, all still giving me that smile.
I get up to the window to see nobody behind the window, just a pile of pictures on the counter. The guy who leads me back there grabs a picture, hands it to me, and smiling asks again, “Do you know John?”
I look down at the picture in his hand then at the picture in my own hand. They are both the same picture. Some guy was lying on the muddy ground with what looks to be a bullet hole in his forehead.
What the hell is going on?
Is that muddy ground the parking lot? Surely does look like it.
Do they all have that same picture?
I try to set the picture down or throw it away from me when I notice that the peoples’ smiles start to change, and a few who were seated start to stand.
I quickly stop trying to get rid of the picture in my hand, something wasn’t letting me anyway, and I start to smile a little and say, “No, I don’t know John.” At this, the man leads me to the seat he has stood up from, offering it to me.
I sit down and smile at everyone else seated at the table. The longer I sit there, the bigger my smile gets, the less hungry I am, and the less I want to leave. After just a few minutes, my mind can’t think of one reason I should leave.
I’m happy here, can’t you tell by the smile on my face?
The only thing to do is to wait for new friends to show up and help them to join in our happiness. That and hope they don’t want to leave like John.
We miss John and all the others before him that left. But John is missed the most, being the last one to leave our happy little place.