She slammed the screen door. She was in the T-Bird before she remembered to go back and lock up the house. She caught her reflection in the window. Should she wear lipstick?
If dreams were lightning and thunder were desire
This old house would have burnt down a long time ago
She sang above the noise of the trucks along the gravel road. There was a time she wouldn’t have left the house without lipstick and a manicure. She smiled and kept singing. That was a long time ago.
The regulars nodded hello to her as she cleared the plates that had been left at the counter. She put Janie’s tips in the cup under the cash register.
When I was a young girl well, I had me a cowboy
He weren’t much to look at, just a free rambling man
She sang under her breath as she dumped the coffee pot and made fresh. She wondered where he was now? Maybe she should have said yes that evening so many years before. Tim had been a good husband, but…but, what?
But that was a long time and no matter how I try
The years just flow by like a broken down dam
There was that new regular at his favorite booth by the window. She went by to check on him. He ordered some toast. He liked to order one thing at a time, she noticed.
He watched her walk among the tables and wondered what it was about her. She’s an attractive woman, he knew anyone could see that. But there was something else, something more.
Make me an angel that flies from Montgom’ry
Make me a poster of an old rodeo
She brought him his toast and went back to get the almond butter he decided he wanted to try. As she turned away, his mind flashed to those old railroad tracks. His grandmother’s house; the clothes dancing on the line in the fall breeze. That was it. She smelled of apples and fresh laundry.
Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
To believe in this living is just a hard way to go
She refilled his coffee. What else could he order? He asked her about the daily specials, again. How did a woman get eyes that blue? He could stay and read the paper a while. People did that, didn’t they?
He didn’t know if he remembered to smile at her.
[Lyrics in italics, from: “Angel from Montgomery,” by John Prine. Original release: John Prine, 1971.]