Tony evens out a stack of menus, answers the phone, makes change. Then he says: "Meet. Seat. Greet. That's what I do, run a restaurant. And I've done it pretty well."
Now it is Cone Zone Day--coffee and apple pie, $1.49. Debbie looks into the parking lot and sees a familiar '81 Buick. "Him," she says again.
A few minutes later, Leroy "Him" Broyles, age 78, is thrilled, as always, to see that Debbie has already poured his coffee and arranged his newspaper. As if on auto-pilot, he readies himself for the breakfast he dallies over each morning between ten and noon. It's a senior citizen's special: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and coffee, $2.59. He eats that, smokes a cigarette, then takes a pill for angina. "It works marvelously well," he says.
This has been Leroy's routine for nearly eleven years, half of which were spent at the Speer and Colfax White Spot. He has never known the name of any waitress who served him, nor they his--as if that mattered. "I set here and admire every day how they keep perking along," he says, "and a few months back, when I was in the hospital four or five days, I got the friendliest greeting when I came back, everyone wanting to know where the hell I'd been. It was kind of fun."
Which is why Leroy has yet to miss Christmas or Thanksgiving here, let alone Corned Beef and Cabbage Day. "Since my quadruple bypass," he says, "I quit cooking. And the thing is, I don't have that much money. I get $60 a month pension, plus Social Security. So I can afford to eat here."
He can also afford to "play cards every night at five, weekends included," Leroy continues. "Every Thursday at one, I shoot some pool. Another thing about my life: I'm an avid fisherman. This began when I was nine and my uncle took me fishing at Soda Lake with a ten-foot cane pole. Once I drove straight down the Grand Canyon in a brand-new Cadillac."
Tony passes Leroy's table, waves, asks if everything is okay. It is. And now, another message about Leroy's life:
"That Cadillac was the best car I ever had. No. The best car I ever had was a 1950 Ford with an overdrive engine. I sold office equipment and I drove all over, calling on county clerks. I can still feel that engine purring along under me at 80 miles per hour, heading from Cheyenne to Chadron, Nebraska. What a feeling. I'd stop and eat somewhere like this.
"I've eaten at a million places like this. But this place," he decides, "is the best.