“Now you jest come on back here, Lilly Jean, and I’ll rassle up something for you to eat.” Spank helped Lilly Jean into a chair before tying on an apron.
“I don’t know that I could eat, Spank. I hurt too much.”
“You’ll eat my special soup. Wonton. Cures everything.”
“You’re shittin’ me, Spank. You bin cooking in this here diner all these years making greasy shit food and you kin cook Chinese?”
Spank beamed. “Yep.” He took a bunch of green onions from the refrigerator and began to wash them.
“Where’d y’all learn how to cook fancy?”
“Cable television. Bitsy lets me experiment after the diner’s closed.” Spank cut the roots from the onion and began slicing them.
“I can’t believe you’re making me wonton soup.”
“I’m making you more than that, Lilly Jean. I’m making you a feast. You just rest now. OK if I turn on the radio?” His hand hovered over the dial. “I won’t put on my oldies. I know you don’t like ‘em.”
“No, Spank. You listen to whatever you want to.” Lilly Jean leaned her head against the wall, closed her eyes and allowed herself to fall asleep to the sounds of the Lawrence Welk band.
* * *
“Lilly Jean?” A hand on her shoulder.
“Leave me alone, Daddy Sheriff.”
“You don’t cook, Daddy Sheriff.”
“I ain’t Daddy Sheriff. I’m Spank.”
“Oh, thank God.” Lilly Jean opened her eyes. Spank had set a table before her with a white cloth; a vase of flowers in the center. She took a slow, tentative breath: Her ribs still hurt. “Oh my Lord, does that smell good, Spank. I can’t recollect the last time someone cooked for me.”
“Lemme’ get your soup.”
Lilly Jean watched Spank bustle about the kitchen, dishing up soup into pretty bowls. Arranging egg rolls on a plate. Dishing up rice and shrimp. The man had energy, Lilly Jean had to credit him that. And skinny? “Hey, Spank are them your legs or are you riding a chicken?” Lilly Jean laughed. She instantly regretted it: Spank was the only person who’d visited her in the hospital.
Spank walked over on his skinny legs and set two bowls of soup of the table. He sat across from Lilly Jean and took her hand. And Spank laughed, too. “You’re beautiful, Lilly Jean, anyone ever tell you that?”