Quiet nights take me on drives, and on this one,
to a local restaurant. The teen-something cashier
checks my ten dollar bill with a pen that will colorfully tell
if I’m an honest soul
or have less noble pursuits.

I pass and she subtly flirts, unaware of my
age or commitment— perhaps not.
I say nothing and frown, while silently wishing there was a tip
jar so I could fail to contribute, just
to drive the point home.

I hunker in a seat by myself and become
This quickly dissipates as I discover that my
hot sandwich has
cold, un-melted cheese.
Eh, I move on.

Two middle aged women enter and begin pointing and staring at
the sign above my booth, advertising something
they heard was good, but have no intention of ordering.
They’re uncomfortably close and awkwardly happy.
I become self-conscious again.

I finish my meal and refill my drink.
Forgetting my lid on the counter,
I begin heading to my truck without cup holders.
Once inside, I pinch
the drink between my legs and
wonder if there is anywhere else to
go, but home. I drive that direction, tired,
realizing that quiet nights take me on drives,
but loud ones bring me home.