Authors note: This is a short piece I wrote for another writing site in a segment called “Word of the Day”, and the word was “diner”.


Danny’s All Day Diner


When I first met Danny, he was only 20 years old. He was a great friend from the start, and I always admired his way of making people feel comfortable when they were around him. He had that kind of personality; gentle, easy-going, quick with a compliment, honest to a fault, and so funny that you bent over laughing when he really got going.

Danny wasn’t one to complain. He was born with one leg shorter than the other, a disability that never seemed to get the best of him. None of us ever heard him grouching about his obvious impediment, quite the contrary. His self-effacing way of drawing your attention to his “ball and chain”, as he liked to refer to his leg, made you feel like it was ok to look at it, then you forgot it was even there.

At Danny’s home, the first thing you noticed was all the animals he had. He was an animal lover, and no animal would go without lots of love and affection and food when Danny was on the scene. He had about fifteen cats, five dogs, two parakeets, dozens of finches, three aquariums, and a boa constrictor named Spicy that I was terrified of.

Spicy had escaped from his cage one day while I was there, and was only noticed “missing” when he came sliding down over my shoulder in the middle of one of my lengthy conversations with Danny and some friends on a concert we had attended the previous night. I was telling them about the cellist, and how I had seen her in another solo performance a few years ago that had brought the house down. I heard a gasp, and Miriam was pale faced and pointing at me, but looking down at my chest, where I hadn’t even felt Spicy flowing over my body.

“Help…” I whispered, terrified. Danny hopped up and came over to me right away, telling me to relax and not be afraid.

“Spicy, you bad, bad boy. How did you get out of your cage?” He whispered to his snake. “Come here now, and leave Lenore alone” He carefully removed the boa as it immediately wrapped itself around his arm.

“I’ll be right back guys, carry on” and he laughed. “No need to worry, Spicy just loves Lenore’s perfume!” and laughed on his way down the hall. I was still sitting there looking like I had swallowed a bug mid-sentence. I’ve been looking over my shoulder ever since and check behind my chair whenever I am at Danny’s house.

Danny was also a phenomenal cook. He was known for turning out the most scrumptious meals, and always invited every one of us when he came up with a new recipe, asking us to try it. It was a rare thing when one of us didn’t attend his dinners. We all knew that no matter what Danny prepared, it would be delectable.

One night, Danny pulled out all the stops and made a meal that was beyond compare. He first served us a salad made of baby spinach, beets, thin sliced oyster mushrooms, and sunflower seeds with a delicate pear vinegar. The next to come was a cauliflower bisque, with a buttery flavor that melted one’s tongue. And the coup de grace was a main course consisting of grilled Chilean Sea Bass with a sauce made of butter, honey, horse radish, parsley and herbs, golden raisins and pine nuts, as well as lightly steamed asparagus, with butter and a bit of fresh parmesan cheese grated over the top.

 It was simply divine, and no one left a scrap of food on their plates. It was then that Eric spoke up, and said, “Why in the world haven’t you opened your own dinner house? You are the MAN!” as he rubbed his stomach in gentle circles. We all looked up and laughed, of course! It was so obvious! Why hadn’t we thought of it before? Danny looked at us with surprise, and asked “You mean you guys think it is that good? I mean, I have thought about it a lot, but I didn’t think…I never really thought…do you really think it is that good that I could sell it?” We all laughed some more and agreed, throwing our dinner napkins at him and calling for more wine.

It was a few years before we actually saw the grand opening of Danny’s All Day Diner open. There was the financing, which was difficult to get for a restaurant, and the location, the kitchen needed to be set up, the furniture, all the details of what Danny’s vision was for his place. But once it was open, what a party we had! And the way that he set it up, it was a wonderful thing for the community. Danny made sure he had one night a month where he offered specials for less cost so that anyone could eat a fine meal, and holidays were also cheaper. Danny knew a lot of single parents and Elderly folks would be eating out for holidays or alone, and he couldn’t bear that.

 After the diner was closed, three nights a week Danny stayed late, and fed the homeless for free. He took the food that was left from the day, and served it up himself; no one went hungry, and no food went to waste. He even gave some of them jobs helping out as sous chefs and bus boys. They would do anything for Danny, as he gave them back their pride and dignity. He kept everyone happy, and he prospered, as it should be.

The last time I saw Danny, he was excited at the prospect of opening another diner, and I was so happy for him. He deserved his success. He was a rare man indeed, and I look forward to returning to sit at his table, and stuff myself senseless with his delicious gourmet meals.


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